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Last Updated: Friday, 19 May 2006, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK
Fifa gives Nigeria last chance
By Osasu Obayiuwana

Fifa general secretary Urs Linsi
Linsi's visit is a last-gasp effort to avoid a ban

Fifa's general secretary Urs Linsi will be visiting Nigeria on the 24th of May, in a last chance bid to to head off an international ban hanging over the country.

Linsi will meet with the Nigeria FA (NFA) and Seidu Sambawa, the country's sports minister, who has refused to recognise the 29 December poll that gave a four-year term to NFA chairman Ibrahim Galadima.

Sambawa questioned the validity of the elections and claimed the financial integrity of Galadima was called into question by a parliamentary inquiry that examined the NFA's finances.

But Galadima, whose re-election as NFA chairman was validated by Fifa, denied the charges of financial misconduct and has vowed to defend his reputation in court.

Fifa's executive committee, meeting in Munich from 4-5 June, is expected to suspend the country from international competitions should Linsi indicate that the government persists in its refusal to respect the NFA's independence.

The world governing body, which threatened to suspend Nigeria at the end of 2004, for failing to complete the reforms of its football laws, gave it a reprieve from that ban.

Although Nigeria's government promised Fifa it will promptly abrogate the statute that permitted it to interfere in the affairs of the NFA, the parliament has failed to complete the needed legislative process over the last 18 months.

This has left Nigeria with two laws for football - one sanctioned by Fifa and approved by the NFA's extraordinary congress in 2004 and the previous statute, known as Decree 101, which Fifa regards as a violation of its regulations.

Decree 101 permits the government to appoint the NFA's chief executive and place its nominees on the board.

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