Nigeria is at risk of being sanctioned by world basketball ruling body FIBA after the on Thursday directed the immediate withdrawal of its national teams from all international competitions for two years with immediate effect.
Sports minister, Sunday Dare, on Thursday made the announcement through the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Ismaila Abubakar, who revealed that the decision was taken in order to find a lasting solution to the lingering crisis in the Nigeria Basketball Federation.
The NBBF in January held parallel polls in Abuja and Benin City with the former ushering in Mark Igoche while the latter brought back incumbent Musa Ahmadu Kida.
The directive has placed the women’s national team D’Tigress hopes of attending the 2022 World Cup in Sydney, Australia in jeopardy while D’Tigers who are expected to be involved in window three of the 2023 FIBA Men’s World Cup qualifiers from July 1 in Rwanda may be the first to be affected by the sanction.
Dare, disclosed that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had approved the immediate withdrawal of Nigeria from all international basketball competitions for a period of two years with immediate effect.
“Following the unending crisis which has plagued and nearly crippled the development of basketball in Nigeria, President Buhari has approved the withdrawal of Nigeria from all international basketball competitions for a period of two years. This is with immediate effect,”the statement by the ministry read in part.
“This will also allow for the setting up of an Interim Management Committee to oversee the management and development of the domestic basketball leagues in Nigeria.
“In issuing the order, the Federal Government reiterates its interest and commitment to the development of basketball in Nigeria as well as the huge talents of our youth domestically in an atmosphere free of rancour and squabbles.”
The immediate withdrawal of the country’s national teams is in breach of Art 9.7 of FIBA’s general statutes which states, “National member federations shall manage their affairs independently and with no influence from third parties.”
Art 10.2 of FIBA statutes added that on the initiative of the Secretary General, FIBA Central Board may suspend a national member federation for the breach of Art 9.7.
Reacting to the withdrawal from international competitions, Vice President of the Ahmadu-Kida led board, Babs Ogunade, says the decision to suspend basketball activities both local and internationally has set the sport in the country back by over 10 years.
“For me I think the decision is bad and the minister should be asked questions. We have qualified for the World Cup. Does he know the fines involved in not attending the World Cup after qualifying?
“The men have the 2023 World Cup qualifiers in Kigali in July and this ban will affect them as well. How will the ban improve basketball in Nigeria?
“This decision has set basketball in the country back by 10 years. Do they know how long it took us to convince NBA players to come play for Nigeria? How long it took us to convince Mike Brown to come coach us? This ban is definitely bad for our sports.”
FIBA had in the past suspended countries for third party interference.
Kuwait was suspended in 2015 over political interference while Mexico was also banned for the same offence in the same year. Lebanon was suspended in 2013 over interference.
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