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Nigeria revokes two-year ban on soccer team's international play

By the CNN Wire Staff
Nigeria's soccer team lost two of its group matches and tied a third at the 2010 World cup.
Nigeria's soccer team lost two of its group matches and tied a third at the 2010 World cup.
  • President says Nigerian Football Federation apologized to nation for "dismal" World Cup play
  • Ban announced last week after Super Eagles failed to win any of their three World Cup matches
  • FIFA had warned of suspension if government interfered with federation

(CNN) -- The Nigerian government on Monday revoked a decision to withdraw its national soccer team from international competition for the next two years after its poor performance at the World Cup in South Africa.

Nigeria, generally one of Africa's stronger sides, lost two matches and drew a third to finish last in Group B of the opening round of the first World Cup final held in Africa.

President Goodluck Jonathan announced last week that the leadership of the Nigerian Football Federation had been fired and that the nation was prohibited from international play for two years.

FIFA, the governing body of world soccer, then warned Nigeria that it would be suspended if the government's penalties were carried out. FIFA requires that national soccer federations operate independent of government interference.

On Monday, Jonathan announced that he was lifting the two-year ban after the Nigerian federation offered an "unreserved apology" to the nation for the "dismal performance" at the World Cup.

The president's announcement, by special adviser Ima Niboro, said the federeation would revamp the Super Eagles, as the national team is known, and "address numerous shortcomings evident in the management" of soccer in Nigeria.

In addition, the federation has appointed interim leadership to begin the overhaul and build a new national team, the statement said.

In a separate statement, FIFA said that it received a letter from the Nigerian government confirming that the two-year ban was revoked and that it continued to recognize the elected leadership of the Nigerian Football Federation.

Because the letter arrived before a July 2 deadline set by FIFA, the federation "remains vested with all its statutory rights," the FIFA statement said.