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Nigerian president suspends football team for two years

media Members of Nigeria team during the World Cup (Photo: Jamie Mcdonald/Getty Images)

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan banned the country’s football team from international competitions for two years on Wednesday after their poor performance in the World Cup. After finishing bottom of their group, a statement from Jonathan’s office said the ban was intended to help the team “put its house in order”.

“President Goodluck Jonathan has directed that Nigeria withdraws from international competition for two years,” spokesperson Ima Niboro told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

The Nigerian national team took just one point from their three World Cup group matches. They lost to Argentina 1-0 and Greece 2-1, then only managed a 2-2 draw against South Korea.

“We went to the World Cup and found all sorts of problems,” said Rotimi Amaechi, who heads a presidential task force on the World Cup. “We felt we should sit back and look inward.”

However Fifa, football’s world governing body, are likely to look at the move with suspicion and Nigeria could face a ban. They do not like any political interference with the game, as has been demonstrated with the French government’s involvement in the national team’s early exit from the competition.

"Definitely I can tell you that political interference will be dealt with by Fifa notwithstanding what kind of interference and what is the size of the country," Sepp Blatter, Fifa President said on Tuesday.

Nigeria’s Football Federation issued an apology on Tuesday to “the federal government and all football-loving Nigerians for the early ouster of the Super Eagles”.

Although they have received no information about the suspension.

"We have not been directed," Federation spokesperson Ademola Olajire told the AP news agency. "We have no letter" from the president.

Jonathan also ordered an audit into the allocation of funds for the World Cup squad, and how they were used.

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