This morning, an emergency committee formed by FIFA announced that Nigeria has been banned from all international football. Period.

The government has persistently interfered with the administration of the football association, and FIFA is sick of it. The ban takes effect immediately, and prevents Nigeria from participating in any regional, continental, or international competitions. Additionally, even club teams are not allowed to play a sanctioned match outside the country.

FIFA rules mandate that a country run their football association “independently and with no influence from third parties,” which Nigeria has grossly violated. The chief precipitating incident occurred about a week ago, when the government issued a court order banning the president, Executive Committee members, and Congress of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) from actually administering Nigerian football.

The order also deemed the Nigerian Minister of Sports responsible for appointing a government official to run the NFF until they could have a court hearing to sort out the matter. Naturally, they did not set a date for when that hearing would take place.

FIFA has promised to lift the ban “once the court actions have been withdrawn and the properly elected NFF Executive Committee, the NFF general assembly and the NFF administration are able to work without any interference in their affairs.”

Nigeria’s Under 20 women’s side will be the first team to suffer the consequences of the government’s interference. If the sanctions haven’t been removed by July 15, they will be unable to participate in the under-20 Women's World Cup. The men’s senior national team is scheduled to begin qualifying for the African Cup of Nations in September.

While it’s not the first time Nigeria has been in trouble with FIFA (they were briefly banned from the 2010 World Cup when the president interfered with the NFF), this is a very serious situation for the future of their national teams. Placing such a huge restriction on the program will dramatically slow player development, and could severely hurt them for years to come.

[via CNN]