President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, has tendered an unreserved apology to Nigerians explaining how the “error” which led to the sanctioning by the world football body, Federation of International Football Association.
He did this via his official Twitter handle @PinnickAnaju on Wednesday. Nigeria was on Tuesday fined heavily and deducted 3 points for fielding an ineligible player, Shehu Abdullahi.
Pinnick’s message reads: “Good morning. I’ll start by tendering my wholehearted apology to Nigeria and Nigerians for the Shehu Abdullahi error. It is unforgivable and could have undone months of hard work. As head of the Federation, I take responsibility for this. It happened on my watch.
“While accepting the Federation’s fault here, let me quickly explain how this went by unnoticed. It doesn’t change the fact that we didn’t keep our eyes on the ball and will help us in our planned restructuring of the Technical and Competitions Department,” he said.
He explained that the official match documents of NFF didn’t show that Shehu Abdullahi was on a yellow card and Nigeria went on the match not knowing about FIFA’s notice.
“Shehu Abdullahi got his first yellow card in our very first preliminary match against Swaziland away. When the draws for the Group Stages were made, the Technical staff made a grave error; assumption. They assumed the cards gotten prior would not count.
“To be fair to them, throughout the qualifying series, official match documents didn’t even show that Shehu Abdullahi was on a yellow card. For instance, when we played Cameroon, Mikel, Moses and Balogun were put on notice that they had yellow cards. Team meetings were even held about how to handle their cards so they wouldn’t miss crucial games. Shehu Abdullahi was never in the mix. Shehu then received a yellow against Zambia in our penultimate game, two years after the Swaziland match.”
The NFF Boss said the email sent by FIFA to notify the body of Abdullahi’s suspension was forwarded to only one person (the technical officer) who was in the hospital battling for his life as at the time the email was sent to NFF.
“Another grave mistake then occurred. FIFA sent an email to the technical officer in charge, that Shehu Abdullahi was suspended for the Algeria match. In a twist of fate, that officer was in the hospital, with a severe heart condition, battling for his life.
“The biggest knock to our system is the fact that his official correspondences should have been forwarded to more than one person. It wasn’t. We went into our last match not knowing about FIFA’s notice. Not acceptable, I agree, but these are the facts of the matter.
“On the match day, we were unaware, the match officials were unaware and our opponents were unaware. It was a horrendous error and we at the Federation are truly apologetic. We thank God it did not undo years of hard work.”
He finally admitted that the error was a lack of due diligence in and by one of the departments in NFF and they are ensuring that errors like these never happen again.