The world’s football governing body, FIFA, has fined Nigeria 150,000 Swiss Francs ($153,459) and imposed sanctions for the unruly behaviour of fans during a World Cup qualifier match.
On March 29, Nigeria’s national team Super Eagles drew 1-1 with Black Stars of Ghana, effectively edging Nigeria out of the 2022 Qatar World Cup tournament set for November.
Angry Nigerian fans stormed the pitch and destroyed facilities at the newly rehabilitated MKO Abiola National Stadium in Abuja.
Reports claimed that the stampede resulted in the death of Zambian official Dr Joseph Kabungo who was appointed by FIFA as the Doping Control Officer for the match.
However, the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) denied that the death of a Zambian official at the Abuja stadium was caused by the stampede.
The NFF said its findings show that the Zambian official “died as a result of sudden cardiac arrest.”
“We are terribly shocked at this sad development. The NFF commiserates with world football body FIFA, the Confederation of African Football, the Football Association of Zambia, and the family of Dr Kabungo on his sudden passing. His death pains us very much and we are in a state of deep shock.’’
FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee on Monday said on its website that it has imposed sanctions on Nigeria for “failure to implement existing safety rules and failure to ensure that law and order are maintained in the stadium, invasion of the field of play and throwing of objects”.
“In line with FIFA’s zero-tolerance stance against discrimination and violence in football, a number of member associations have been punished due to the abusive behaviour by their respective supporters,” it said.
The Nigerian federal government has constituted a panel to investigate the vandalism of facilities at the Stadium.
The Nigerian Senate had also invited the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare; NFF President Amaju Pinnick; and other agencies involved in the maintenance of the MKO Abiola Stadium to determine the extent of the damage to facilities.
The Senate instructed its Committee on Sports and Youth Development to investigate the causes of Nigeria’s failure to qualify for the World Cup in spite of the huge fund by the government, individuals, and corporate bodies.
Mr Dare said the nine-member committee would be headed by Sanni Usman, a retired deputy inspector general of police (IGP).
Usman will be assisted by Henry Nzekwu as the committee’s vice chairman while Olumide Bamiduro of the sports ministry will be the secretary.
Dare added that those found culpable would be brought to book.
“Vandalising and destroying sporting infrastructure at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium is not the acceptable manner to show unhappiness. The young Nigerians that did this must be condemned,” he said.
The Nigeria-Ghana match was the first event to be held at the stadium since it was renovated and provided with the facilities by Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, who handed over the stadium to Nigerian government on December 4, 2021.
The stadium was renovated under the Adopt-a-Pitch Initiative that aimed at using private collaborations to enhance the development of sportsmen in the country.