BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
In the aftermath of the ill-fated World Cup play-off with Ghana in March at the Abuja stadium, the world football’s governing body, FIFA, imposed a fine of CHF 150,000 on the Nigeria Football Federation and also announced that the next international match of the Super Eagles, the Africa Cup of Nations 2023 qualifiers with Sierra Leone will be played behind closed doors.
The fine imposed on Nigeria is the second heaviest after the CHF 175,000 imposed on Senegal FA. While the incidents that occasioned the fines on NFF and the Senegal FA are just one in each instance, there are countries whose infractions were even up to three instances and yet had lower fines.
For instance, Bolivia which had similar incident like that of Abuja – Order and security including invasion of the field of play and throwing of objects – is fined a laughable CHF 27,000 in comparison to Nigeria’s CHF 150,000. Also, Bolivia were also charged with use of laser pointers and use of words to transmit a message that is not appropriate for a sports events – offensive chants.
Yet the fine was lower than that of Nigeria pointing to disproportionate mete of punishment for the same offence. They are not punished with a closed-door match unlike what was meted to Nigeria.
According to information Sports Village Square gathered from FIFA, “some decisions may be subject to appeal.” It pointed out that the decisions released to the media is just for information and may not be deemed a valid legal document.
In another instance comparable to Nigeria’s, Canada who were twice charged, had in an instance just a warning letter and a fine of CHF 15,000 for team misconduct by delaying kick off and were also charged with order and security as well as invasion of the field of play during their World Cup qualifying match with USA on 30 April.
It is to be noted that Canada were charged under two sections of FIFA Disciplinary Code: Art. 12 & 16, while Nigeria breached only the Art. 16 yet carry a heftier punishment that Canada that breached two articles of the disciplinary code.
There are many of such instances. In all instances involving 36 countries across the continents, only three African countries – Nigeria, Senegal and DR Congo are given hefty fines in hundred of thousands as well as closed door matches.
The others were given limited crowd attendance as punishments.