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Dalung Dares FIFA: You Don’t Scare Nigeria, Treat Us With More Respect

Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung has said Nigeria will not be scared by the world football governing body FIFA.

The Minister told Kwesé ESPN that FIFA should treat Nigeria with more respect because it has invested a lot of resources in football development.

Dalung was reacting to a letter by FIFA declining a request by the minister to meet with the leadership of the world football governing body.

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The minister had written to FIFA requesting to lead a delegation to meet with President Gianni Infantino in Zurich, Switzerland, within the month of August, in respect of the leadership crisis facing the Nigeria Football Federation.

Dalung-letter

But in response, FIFA declined to the request, saying it is not willing to meet with the Nigerian delegation.

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FIFA statement reads in part: “While we are aware of the seriousness and urgency of the matter, we regret to inform you that we are not in a position to respond favourably to your request for an appointment with the FOFA leadership. In fact, the FOFA President is indisposed during the proposed period.

“In this context, we would like to seize this opportunity to remind you that as per the decision rendered by FIFA’s Bureau of the Council on 13 August, 2018, in the event the NFF offices are not handed back to the legitimate NFF Executive Committee under President Amaju Melvin Pinnick by Monday, 20 August 2018 at 12: 00 (CET), the NFF will be suspended with immediate effect for contravening binding obligations of the FIFA Statutes. The suspension would be lifted only once the NFF, under President Amaju Melvin Pinnick and General Secretary Mohammed Sanusi, confirms that they were given back effective control of the NFF and its offices.”

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FIFA-letter

However, speaking at the Seninde Foundation Women’s Football tournament hosted at the Philip Omondi Stadium, Lugogo, Dalung said Nigeria is a big country and will not bow to FIFA’s demands.

“FIFA will not scare us. We are a big country and FIFA must learn to listen to a country that is investing a lot of money in football development,” the minister said.

“There is a misconception of the entire situation. FIFA is an international organisation. Nigeria is a country and a defined sovereign state which is affiliated to FIFA. We have a crisis in the football leadership and the crisis went to the courts and the supreme courts decided. So, what is FIFA talking about? And yet they also don’t want to meet us.

“FIFA cannot be right. They have not even appreciated what is on the ground. Football is funded in Africa by governments which build the infrastructure and pump in money. FIFA must therefore learn to treat the government partners with respect.

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“We wrote them a letter seeking [a platform to] discuss about the crisis in Nigerian football. But, we received a letter on Thursday saying that they are not willing to meet with the Nigerian delegation. That is the best we have done to engage with them and discuss the crisis.

“They have decided to take sides and stand by what they think.”

Nigeria now risks being banned by FIFA, as the leadership crisis rocking the NFF may not end before today’s deadline handed the Nigerian football body.

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