Spain are in danger of being thrown out of the World Cup on Friday over alleged government interference in its football association.
Fifa wrote to the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) warning it would be in breach of the world governing body’s statutes if the Consejo Superior de Deportes (CSD), the Spanish government’s national sports council, forced it to stage a presidential election following the arrest and suspension of Angel Maria Villar Llona.
The letter followed a complaint allegedly lodged by Villar Llona himself, who resigned as the senior vice-president of Fifa and vice-president of Uefa following his arrest in July but who is still de facto president of the RFEF despite pressure from the CSD for the federation to elect a successor.
Fifa confirmed on Friday its letter expressed “concern” about the situation and reminded the RFEF it must manage its own affairs independently of third-party interference.
Any member association which fails to do so can be suspended, causing its national team to be banned from playing.
Spain were previously at risk of being thrown out of the 2008 European Championship – the first of their hat-trick of major tournament triumphs – also over alleged government interference in RFEF electoral business.
Fifa and acting RFEF president Juan Luis Larrea both confirmed on Friday talks would take place over the controversy after Christmas.
Larrea told AS: “The meeting will be informative and, in no case, punitive. No-one is going to take Spain out of the World Cup. It’s impossible and never been talked about. It’s the final straw when people say things like that.
“It won’t happen. What do these people want: that Spain are withdrawn from the tournament so Italy can get in?
“The federation is functioning normally, the national team earned their place on the pitch, and Fifa agree with us on that.”
Villar Llona, who was acting president of Uefa prior to Aleksander Ceferin’s election last year, was arrested in July on charges of corruption over alleged misuse of RFEF finances to help secure his own re-election. He denies any wrongdoing.
Fifa has previously suspended national associations over government interference, last week lifting one such ban on Kuwait.
But for the unassailable fourteen-point dominant lead Nigeria stamped on the earlier touted “zone of death”, the Group B of Africa’s World Cup qualification efforts, the nation could have been thrown into deep mourning after it was sanctioned by the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) on Tuesday, December 12, 2017.
FIFA had announced the deduction of three points from our fourteen points and awarded them to Algeria over the fielding of an ineligible player, Shehu Abdullahi, in the final leg of the qualification for the tournament which will hold in Russia in 2018. Abdullahi was given a one-match ban which he had not served when he was drafted to play in the second leg of Nigeria’s away tie against Algeria.
FIFA ruled as follows: “The Nigeria Football Federation is liable for having breached Article.55 paragraph.1 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code and article 8 of the 2018 Regulations of the FIFA World Cup Russia. “The match played within the frame of the preliminary competition of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia between Algeria and Nigeria on 10 November 2017 is declared to be lost by forfeit by Nigeria (3-0).”
Nigeria was also fined 6,000 Swiss Francs or N2.2 million. Luckily and happily, the deduction did not affect our standing at the top of the log as Nigeria had already qualified for the tournament before the Algeria match.
This kind of blunder which escaped the attention of the coaches led by Gernot Rohr and also the Technical Department of the Nigerian Football Federal (NFF) is as unconscionable as it is potentially dangerous. If the country had had a narrow lead, its qualification could have been nullified. The euphoria that is still the toast of our football circles would have been cut short. It would have been a massive shocker in the soccer world where Nigeria has established a foothold as a major force from the African continent.
Such a turn of events could have sparked off riots leading to the destruction of lives and property in view of the deep love Nigerians have for football which stands as perhaps the only unifying factor for the citizenry. The mistake of a few unconscionable officials could have reversed the thrill of our most commanding world cup qualification in history.
Our football house has remained a sorry symbol of the general incompetence and unwholesomeness of our public institutions, which is why the country is so poorly governed. The NFF has been severally sanctioned by FIFA for age cheating, bribery, corruption and other misdemeanours.
We call on the football governing body to probe and punish those responsible for the blunder. It should wake up from its slumber, clean up its acts and give Nigerians the quality football administration they deserve.
The Nigeria Football Federation has given Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr a pay rise in the new contract offer made to the coach who guided Nigeria through a seamless World Cup qualification campaign.
The German-born Rohr has already signed the contract that will see him in charge of the Super Eagles beyond 2019. “We offered him a new contract which he has accepted,” NFF president Amaju Pinnick said.
“They are going about the documentation now. His contract expires after the World Cup but we have offered him another two years with a slight pay increase. “He has radiated being that father figure for the team and has made the players understand that if “I lead well, you guys will follow well”.
The team spirit is what has been counting for us on the field and off the field. “He has been able to instil in the boys a sense of patriotism, a sense of discipline, and he’s been able to show them that if you are not disciplined then you cannot make an impact. “Gernot has been exceptional as a coach.”
Pinnick also paid tribute to Nigeria captain John Mikel Obi. “Mikel Obi has been super,” added Pinnick. “He has carried the team so well and they believe in him.” “We are very happy with what we have been able to mould together because it is very rare in Nigeria.
In the past, you’ve had several leaders in the Super Eagles but now we have just one Super Eagles. “The team spirit is what has been counting for us on the field and off the field.”
Less than 24 hours of resumption of sales of the 2018 FIFA World Cup tickets, a total of 1,318,109 tickets have been ordered.
Ticket sales for the world football tournament in Russia resumed on Wednesday exclusively on FIFA website and the excitement sparked by Friday’s final draw brought another wave of worldwide interest.
As the random selection draw sales period goes on until January 31, 2018, fans are able to apply for individual match tickets for all matches (except for the opening and the final), venue-specific tickets and supporter tickets.
In the event that the number of tickets requested exceeds the available inventory, allocation will be based on a random selection draw procedure.
Fans are advised that during the current sales period, ticket applications could be submitted at any time until midday (Moscow time) on January 31, 2018.
No preference was given in respect of the date of submission (i.e. earlier submissions would not be preferred or have better chances of success than later submissions).
Currently, most applications have come from Russia, while international demand remains high and accounts for 34 per cent.
Fans from Argentina, Peru, Mexico, USA, Colombia, Brazil, Morocco, Egypt, China and Poland all currently rank in the top 10.
Tickets could be purchased online using Visa payment cards or Visa Checkout.
Visa is the official payment services partner of FIFA.
More details related to the sales timeline, ticket products, prices, payment methods and other important information would be available on FIFA website. (NAN)
Nigeria’s Super Eagles are set to play England in a World Cup warm-up game in June, the general secretary of the Nigeria Football Federation Mohammed Sanusi has said.
“We plan to play a friendly against England in June, before the World Cup,” he said, adding that the venue and other details of the match were still to be worked out.
Both Nigeria and England will feature at next year’s World Cup in Russia.
The Super Eagles are drawn in Group D along with Argentina, Croatia and Iceland, while England are in Group G with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia.
Both countries have clashed once at this level, in November 1995, when England won 1-0 at Wembley courtesy of a David Platt headed goal.
Sanusi also said the Eagles would play at least one friendly before Russia 2018 in the country’s capital Abuja to show the team’s appreciation for the support of both the Nigerian government and people.
England manager Gareth Southgate has been told his job is safe even if his side lose every game at next year’s World Cup in Russia.
Southgate oversaw a successful qualification campaign for the finals, where England will face Belgium, Tunisia and Panama in the group stage.
FA chief executive Martin Glenn says the manager will retain his position “for the next few tournaments”.
“We have a long-term plan. You’ve seen some of the fruits of it,” Glenn said.
Southgate, 47, took charge of England on a permanent basis 12 months ago, signing a four-year contract.
“Long-term plans are hard to defend when the short-term results go against you,” added Glenn, who was quoted in several national newspapers.
“He’s not looking at Russia as a free pass. The World Cup’s a really important staging post for our development, I think.
“We go out there wanting to win it but also being realistic. No-one wants to have a bad World Cup but we’re confident he’s the right guy to take us through for the next few tournaments.”
England’s future hopes have been buoyed by age-group successes this year, including Under-17 and Under-20 World Cup victories, and Glenn says having a long-term vision is the way forward.
“We’re going to do it in a way that’s sustainable,” he said.
“We know that worked for the Germans and we know that worked for the Spanish, so we’re just repeating things they’ve done with our own emphasis on it.”
Spain were crowned 2010 World Cup and 2012 European champions during manager Vicente del Bosque’s eight-year spell as manager, while Germany boss Joachim Low has been in the job 11 years during which time he has led them to 2014 World Cup victory and runner-up spot at the 2008 Euros.
The complete fixture list for the 2018 World Cup in Russia following Friday’s draw in Moscow (all times GMT):
Thursday, June 14
(1500) Russia v Saudi Arabia, Moscow (Luzhniki)
Friday, June 15
(1200) Egypt v Uruguay, Yekaterinburg
(1500) Morocco v Iran, Saint Petersburg
(1800) Portugal v Spain, Sochi
Saturday, June 16
(1000) France v Australia, Kazan
(1300) Argentina v Iceland, Moscow (Spartak)
(1600) Peru v Denmark, Saransk
(1900) Croatia v Nigeria, Kaliningrad
Sunday, June 17
(1200) Costa Rica v Serbia, Samara
(1500) Germany v Mexico, Moscow (Luzhniki)
(1800) Brazil v Switzerland, Rostov-on-Don
Monday, June 18
(1200) Sweden v South Korea, Nizhni Novgorod
(1500) Belgium v Panama, Sochi
(1800) Tunisia v England, Volgograd
Tuesday, June 19
(1200) Poland v Senegal, Moscow (Spartak)
(1500) Colombia v Japan, Saransk
(1800) Russia v Egypt, Saint Petersburg
Wednesday, June 20
(1200) Portugal v Morocco, Moscow (Luzhniki)
(1500) Uruguay v Saudi Arabia, Rostov-on-Don
(1800) Iran v Spain, Kazan
Thursday, June 21
(1200) France v Peru, Yekaterinburg
(1500) Denmark v Australia, Samara
(1800) Argentina v Croatia, Nizhni Novgorod
Friday, June 22
(1200) Brazil v Costa Rica, Saint Petersburg
(1500) Nigeria v Iceland, Volgograd
(1800) Serbia v Switzerland, Kaliningrad
Saturday, June 23
(1200) Belgium v Tunisia, Moscow (Spartak)
(1500) Germany v Sweden, Sochi
(1800) South Korea v Mexico, Rostov-on-Don
Sunday, June 24
(1200) England v Panama, Nizhni Novgorod
(1500) Japan v Senegal, Yekaterinburg
(1800) Poland v Colombia, Kazan
Monday, June 25
(1400) Saudi Arabia v Egypt, Volgograd
(1400) Uruguay v Russia, Samara
(1800) Spain v Morocco, Kaliningrad
(1800) Iran v Portugal, Saransk
Tuesday, June 26
(1400) Denmark v France, Moscow (Luzhniki)
(1400) Australia v Peru, Sochi
(1800) Nigeria v Argentina, Saint Petersburg
(1800) Iceland v Croatia, Rostov-on-Don
Wednesday, June 27
(1400) South Korea v Germany, Kazan
(1400) Mexico v Sweden, Yekaterinburg
(1800) Serbia v Brazil, Moscow (Spartak)
(1800) Switzerland v Costa Rica, Nizhni Novgorod
Thursday, June 28
(1400) Japan v Poland, Volgograd
(1400) Senegal v Colombia, Samara
(1800) England v Belgium, Kaliningrad
(1800) Panama v Tunisia, Saransk
Saturday, June 30
Round of 16
(1400) Group C winners v Group D runners-up, Kazan (R1)
(1800) Group A winners v Group B runners-up, Sochi (R2)
Sunday, July 1
Round of 16
(1400) Group B winners v Group A runners-up, Moscow (Luzhniki) (R5)
(1800) Group D winners v Group C runners-up, Nizhni Novgorod (R6)
Monday, July 2
Round of 16
(1400) Group E winners v Group F runners-up, Samara (R3)
(1800) Group G winners v Group H runners-up, Rostov-on-Don (R4)
Tuesday, July 3
Round of 16
(1400) Group F winners v Group E runners-up, Saint Petersburg (R7)
(1800) Group H winners v Group G runners-up, Moscow (Spartak) (R8)
Friday, July 6
(1400) Winner of R1 v Winner of R2, Nizhni Novgorod (Q1)
(1800) Winner of R3 v Winner of R4, Kazan (Q2)
Saturday, July 7
(1400) Winner of R7 v Winner of R8, Samara (Q3)
(1800) Winner of R5 v Winner of R6, Sochi (Q4)
Tuesday, July 10
(1800) Winners of Q1 v Winners of Q2, Saint Petersburg
Wednesday, July 11
(1800) Winners of Q3 v Winners of Q4, Moscow (Luzhniki)
Saturday, July 14
(1400) Third-place play-off, Saint Petersburg
Sunday, July 15
(1500) Final, Moscow (Luzhniki)
Technical Adiviser of the Super Eagles Gernot Rohr has run the rule over Nigeria’s Group D opponents at next year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia and revealed that the team will have a good start to the competition if they get a favourable result against Croatia in the opening match on June 16, 2018.
Speaking moments after the draw were conducted at the Kremlin Palace here in Moscow on Friday, Rohr also said he is wary of ‘dark-horses’ Iceland and South American powerhouse Argentina but will pay special attention to the Europeans.
“The first game (against Croatia) is the most important because you need to start well for your confidence,” Rohr said.
“Croatia are better ranked than us by FIFA so we are supposed to be the weakest team in the group. If we win the first game, it will help us against Iceland in the second game because we will not be under pressure.”
The German also called for quick and efficient planning and preparation as the Super Eagles will be playing their three games in different parts of the Russian Federation which are very far from each other.
He said: “Our first game is in Kaliningrad which is in the western part of the country. Then we travel to Volgograd in Central Russia to face Iceland before goint to St Petersburg for the final game against Argentina. All of these require planning and preparations.”
Rorh was also full of praises for his young team which he said was getting better with each passing game.
“We have a young team. We are getting better so we will be humble and continue to work hard in other to bring happiness to the Nigerian people,” he added.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria have been drawn for the fifth time against Argentina, 1998 bronze medal winners Croatia and debutants Iceland in Group D of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The draw was held at the Kremlin Palace here in Moscow, Russia on Friday.
According to the draw which was conducted by legends like Diego Maradona, Cafu, Carles Puyol, Gordon Banks and Diego Forlan, the Super Eagles will open their account against Croatia, while Argentina will do battle with Iceland.
Africa’s other representatives Egypt are in Group A with hosts Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay.
Senegal are in Group H with Poland, Colombia and Japan, while Morocco are in Group B with Spain, Portugal and Iran, while Tunisia are in Group G with Belgium, England and debutantes Panama.
The opening game of the 2018 World Cup is between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will run from 14 June to 15 July in 11 host cities.
2018 World Cup Groups:
Cleaners, security men and other secretariat staff of the Nigeria Football Federation will share in the $8m 2018 World Cup bonus FIFA will pay Nigeria for qualifying and playing in the group stage of next year’s World Cup in Russia.
Top officials of the federation revealed to newsmen that all the staff of the federation have been included in the sharing formula because they also played some roles in the success story of the Super Eagles.
“One of the best decisions we took with the players when we discussed the sharing formula for the FIFA money in Krasnodar penultimate Sunday before our famous 4-2 defeat of Argentina in an international friendly game was the inclusion of staff of the federation as far as sharing the money is concerned,” revealed one of the officials who was at the meeting.
“Our decision was based on the fact that the top officials of the NFF do not alone make the NFF. Without the security men, we could not have felt secure enough to do our job. The same applies to the cleaners and others who work in the secretariat. It is like your company, when you pay your end of year bonus do you limit it to the top management cadre alone?
“I am sure all the staff in your organisation will get something, no matter how small.That is the same thing we have done here because we want to recognise them for playing a part in Nigeria’s qualification for the World Cup.”
The NFF source however refused to reveal the percentage of the money the staff will get.
He said: “I can’t tell you that. But you know the players and their officials will get 30% of the money and they alone will decide on how they want to share it.”
Source: Complete Sports