When I first heard the news that Goodluck Jonathan had suspended the Nigerian football team from international football for two years after their abject performance in the World Cup, I thought he’d gone crazy. Nigeria were bad, but they weren’t that bad. France were worse. And Nigeria were lucky to be in the World Cup at all, only getting there after a playoff with Kenya. So no one should really have been surprised at their early, undistinguished exit. The team don’t deserve to be sent into the footballing equivalent of Siberia (although even Siberians remain eligible for international football).
And it makes Goodluck Jonathan – and Nigeria – look rash, amateurish, and generally incompetent. But maybe, just maybe, he’s not. Nigerian football is notoriously corrupt, and a two year clean up could be exactly what it needs. Jonathan’s ordered a detailed financial audit of the Nigerian Football Association, and I imagine some senior heads will roll. Two years is enough time to restructure the Football Association into something that might be able to effectively steer Nigerian football for many years to come.
Once again with Goodluck Jonathan, too little is really known about him to understand whether this is serious reform or a publicity stunt. Once again, we’re cautiously optimistic.