World football governing body, FIFA, yesterday, imposed an N64 million (150, 000 Swiss francs) fine on Nigeria for crowd disturbances that followed the Super Eagles’ inability to beat Ghana and qualify for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
The Super Eagles on March 29, 2022, managed to hold the Black Stars to a 1-1 draw at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja, thus losing the bid to make the Qatar 2022 list to the Ghanaians.
To vent their anger and frustration over their team’s poor show, football fans at the stadium went berserk, destroying everything in sight.
At the end of the rampage, one CAF official from Zambia, Dr. Joseph Kabungo, who served as a doping doctor, was confirmed dead from suspected cardiac arrest.
The FIFA disciplinary panel also judged dozens of similar cases from World Cup qualifying games played since January and handed out several other fines and stadium closures.
FIFA fined Senegal N75 million (175 Swiss francs) for fan disorder, including shining laser pointers at Egypt star, Mohamed Salah, in the penalty shootout that decided their Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifier in Dakar.
Salah’s face was a blur of vivid green light when he prepared to take his penalty, which he blasted over the bar. Senegal went on to win the shootout in Dakar in March with Salah’s Liverpool teammate Sadio Mané scoring the decisive spot-kick.
FIFA said its disciplinary committee also looked into a pitch invasion by Senegal fans, an offensive banner and the national federation’s “failure to ensure that law and order are maintained in the stadium.”
Senegal was also ordered to play a future competitive game in an empty stadium.
FIFA imposed fines of 125,000 Swiss francs ($128,000) on Congo and 100,000 Swiss francs ($103,000) on Lebanon in similar cases at games against Morocco and Syria, respectively. Both got one-game stadium closures.
Discrimination by fans of Chile and Colombia at their home games, plus other offenses, resulted in total fines of 95,000 Swiss francs ($98,000) and 55,000 Swiss francs ($56,500), respectively.
Meanwhile, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has approved the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja, for Nigeria’s Cote d’Ivoire 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sierra Leone.
In a letter sent to Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Sunday, CAF gave the approval for the stadium to be used for the 2023 AFCON qualifier.
This approval puts to end speculations that the edifice will be barred from hosting international matches in the wake of the crowd disturbances that trailed the second leg of the 2022 World Cup qualifier against Ghana.
FIFA, however, ruled that the Nigeria versus Sierra Leone game would be played behind closed doors.