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NFF Crisis: A Call to Order - Club Owners Insist On FIFA Rules

In apparent intervention on the current leadership dispute disrupting the smooth running of Nigerian football, the Club Owners Association, representing the 20 football clubs in the elite Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), has called out for strict adherence to FIFA Statutes and Code in the administration of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

In a press statement sequel to their meeting on Friday, July 20, in Abuja, the association also decried the unguarded “meddlesomeness” from some quarters to undermine the smooth running of the League Management Company Limited which is licensed to manage the NPFL.

Describing the prevailing situation in Nigerian football as “regrettable and unsavoury”, the statement titled “A call for return to order”, explained the justification and universal applicability of FIFA rules and regulations in association football, pointing out that there would never be peace and order in world football should all member nations of FIFA disregard the standing rules, which they subscribed to in the first place, to resort to the use of regular courts in addressing football matters.

“It must be emphasised that the administration of football all over the world is strictly in accordance with well-laid down Statutes and Regulations of FIFA, the world governing body of the sport. These Statutes and Regulations, which are voluntarily adopted and abided by each member Federation or Association, govern the principles, processes, activities and programs of member Federations, including the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

“Equally important is that, a pre-requisite and mandatory condition for the participation of any individual or group in organised football activity is the written voluntary subscription to an undertaking to resolve any dispute arising from their participation only through the internal dispute resolution mechanisms established by the applicable rules. This undertaking, applicable all over the world, excludes taking football matters to the ordinary law courts for resolution. In this respect, the final forum for arbitration of football disputes, and indeed other sports as well, is the Court of Arbitration for Sports, in Lausanne, Switzerland. Indeed, as condition to participate in the NPFL, every club is obliged to subscribe to the same undertaking not to take football matters to ordinary court of law, every season, so as to be issued licence to participate.

“The good reason for this undertaking can easily be seen when it is considered that football administration, organisation and participation are of such a nature that it will be next to impossible to carry out, if football disputes are subjected to the endless processes of the ordinary law courts, particularly their powers to grant a very wide range of restraining interim orders pending the hearing or final determination of cases. Also, it can only be left to the imagination the absolute chaos that will grind organised football activities to a halt worldwide, if it were left open for aggrieved football stakeholders to file law suits and obtain all manner of restraining orders from the ordinary civil courts in their respective countries across the world.

“In addition to facilitating the orderly and consistent administration and organisation of football activities, observance of these established rules and principles also serve to guarantee the stability required to attract the much-needed investment for the growth and development of the football industry. Readily available statistics show that, apart from its undeniable role of fostering social cohesion and national unity, the football industry, which employs hundreds of thousand directly and indirectly, is a significant contributor to the GDP of many countries.

“In view of the foregoing, the Association rejects and condemns the persistent attempts by a certain group of persons to employ all manner of subterfuge to undermine these well-established Rules and regulations of football administration and organisation and, to the detriment of orderly football administration in Nigeria.”

The club owners particularly rejected and decried the frequent attempts by a party in the dispute to attack the League Management Company and disrupt the NPFL, saying it is unwarranted and ill-informed. They affirmed their satisfaction with the works of the LMC and warned the offending party to desist forthwith and return to the path of discipline and honour for the good of the game and the Nigerian public.

“The Association also vehemently rejects and deplore the misguided blatant attempts to meddle in the highly organised affairs of LMC and NPFL by the issuance of baseless, uninformed, irrational and totally unwarranted public statements, in desperate attempts to mislead the unwary.

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