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FIFA sets deadline for Nigeria to overturn ban

Nigeria's soccer team failed to make it past Group B at this year's World Cup in South Africa.
Nigeria's soccer team failed to make it past Group B at this year's World Cup in South Africa.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • FIFA has given Nigeria until Monday to overturn the ban imposed on the soccer team
  • Nigerian government banned the national side for two years after a poor World Cup
  • The suspension involves a freeze on any financial help from the sport's governing body

(CNN) -- Nigeria has until Monday to overturn the decision to ban the national soccer team from all competitions for two years, the sport's governing body FIFA said on Friday.

Failure to do so will result in the Nigerian Football Federation being suspended from all FIFA-related actitives, FIFA's communications director Nicolas Maingot told a news conference.

"FIFA will today send a letter to the Nigerian football federation indicating that the government of Nigeria has until Monday 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) to cancel its decision to withdraw Nigeria's participation in all FIFA and CAF organized football competitions," Maingot told a news briefing on Friday.

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan suspended the "Super Eagles" from international competition on Wednesday after their first round exit at the World Cup in South Africa.

Video: Nigerian football team suspended

The team finished bottom of Group B after failing to win a single game.

Jonathan's government also announced the expulsion of the Nigerian Football Federation, with an interim board put in place.

Nigeria's Sports Minister Ibrahim Isa Bio confirmed Jonathan's decision in an interview with CNN.

"The government has taken a decision we believe is in the interests of Nigeria that we should for now, withdraw from international competition because our football since 1996 seems not to be growing," he said.

"The president Goodluck Jonathan has endorsed this decision and the Nigerian people are excited about it."

However, FIFA rules prevent governments from interfering in the running of national football federations.

Should Nigeria fail to resolve the situation, the country will be banned from competitive games including African competitions, and will also lose vital financial help from FIFA.

A suspension goes beyond the suspension of the national team, it also involves the freezing of the financial help
--Nicolas Maingot
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"A suspension goes beyond the suspension of the national team, it also involves the freezing of the financial help and no referees can participate in international competition," said Maingot.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter had earlier warned France that they would face a possible suspension following a similar issue involving an investigation by French President Nicolas Sarkozy into the national team's infamous World Cup exit.

Jerome Valcke, FIFA's general secretary, said Jonathan's decision puts soccer's world governing body into jeopardy.

"You can't allow a government to say all national teams can't play anymore in any international tournaments," Valcke told South African radio station 702.

"Why should we be so strong on France when they did what they did and we say nothing about Nigeria.

"We have 208 members ... if you have one country going against our statute, going against the football system, the pyramid of football ... all is destroyed."

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