No ban on Abuja stadium by FIFA, says NFF

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The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has denied reports that the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja, has been banned from hosting football games by FIFA.

Some reports had earlier claimed that the world’s football body has placed the sanction on the Abuja stadium following the stampede that ensued in the aftermath of the World Cup qualification play-off between Nigeria and Ghana.

The reports also claimed that the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) machines at the stadium were stolen in the chaos.

But in a statement on Friday, the NFF said it “has not received any such communication from either FIFA or CAF” banning the Abuja stadium.

The federation also refuted the claims of the stolen VAR, saying the equipment remains intact and has been returned to FIFA.

“The Nigeria Football Federation has decried a stream of incorrect reports being peddled in sections of the media, in connection with Tuesday’s FIFA World Cup playoff match between Nigeria and Ghana at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja,” read the statement by Mohammed Sanusi, the NFF secretary-general.

“We are alarmed at the influx of incorrect reports, otherwise known as fake news, mostly in the social media. There is no truth to the reports that the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja has been banned for any length of time by FIFA. It is a concoction by some persons with fertile imagination. The NFF has not received any such communication from either FIFA or CAF.

“There has also been an outlandish report that the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) equipment that was installed for the match had been stolen. We initially thought this was an April Fool prank but it is alarming that some media outlets are taking it seriously. Nothing of such happened. The VAR equipment remains intact and has been returned to the FIFA office in Zurich, Switzerland by Sebastian Runge, FIFA’s Head of Technology.

*The NFF understands that Nigerians in their generality were sorely disappointed by the result of the match, which came short of having the Super Eagles at the World Cup. It is a painful situation for everyone, including ourselves at the Federation. However, we are appealing that the propensity for half-truths and outright falsehood be discouraged. We believe that the present squad of Super Eagles is still capable of achieving great things.”