Fifa rules – and this is a good rule in principle – prohibit any government interference with it’s members. It makes sense – you want sport to stay free from political influences, and from a global perspective having a single footballing authority that member FAs report to (Fifa) is more efficient and gives the game a single platform through which it can be nurtured around the world.
But the world doesn’t live only by Fifa’s rulebook. And the problems leading up to Nigeria’s suspension, and allegations surrounding Fifa’s own operations make this a joke of a move.
To start with, there have been serious corruption allegations leveled towards the Nigerian FA in the last few months, especially regarding profiteering by FA members around the World Cup. For the government to investigate this type of (alleged) corruption means only one thing – that Fifa has failed to act in this regard.
For all we know, it’s a power-play, the exact type of situation that the Fifa rule is meant to prevent. But with corruption allegations hanging over their heads, and with Fifa’s past track record in dealing with corrupt FAs (Jack Warner’s history of manipulation, ticket scandals and money laundering has filled many pages here on Soccerlens), it’s obvious that Fifa is not concerned with corruption, only it’s own power base.
And by forcing the Nigerian government to play by their rules (similar to how they have threatened to ban other countries in recent history over government involvement), they are showing the world of football that they have the authority and they’re not afraid to wield it.
A shame that they can’t do the same with corruption or adequate profit-sharing. That would require them to be not corrupt to begin with, and perhaps that’s asking for too much.