Fifa ultimatum prompts Nigeria to backtrack on team ban

ABUJA - Nigeria's government yesterday lifted a two-year ban it imposed last week on its national football team after a dismal World Cup showing, a presidential source said. The decision was made just before a Fifa deadline for Nigeria to reverse the ban came into effect.

ABUJA - Nigeria's government yesterday lifted a two-year ban it imposed last week on its national football team after a dismal World Cup showing, a presidential source said. The decision was made just before a Fifa deadline for Nigeria to reverse the ban came into effect.

"The government has reversed the decision," the source told AFP. An announcement was expected later.

On Wednesday last week Nigeria slapped a two-year ban on international competition by the squad after the traditional African powerhouse finished bottom of their group in South Africa with just one point from three matches.

President Goodluck Jonathan also ordered an audit into how the funds allocated for the team at the World Cup were used.

Sports ministry spokesperson Tony Ohaeri said earlier yesterday that the decision had been taken "in the interest of football".

But Fifa, which takes a dim view of political interference in the sport, on Friday gave Nigeria until last night to reverse the decision or face "the suspension of the Nigerian federation".

The ban drew criticism from some in the oil-rich country who considered it too harsh, but others said drastic moves were needed.

Kayode Ajibogun, a member of the country's football supporters club, said yesterday before the reversal that the ban was the right decision.

Ajibogun said: "The boys performed woefully in SA because of bad administration in our sports. Banning them will allow us to put our house in order." - Sapa-AFP

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