Falcons’ defender, Njoku escapes FIFA’s one-year ban
THE three match ban on Super Falcons defender, Ugo Njoku, by FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee could have been more, if the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) had not moved fast to save the situation.
Njoku, who came in in the second half during the Falcons’ second group game against Australia, which Nigeria lost 0-2 in Winnipeg, was banned for three matches by the world football governing body for elbowing an Australian opponent in that game.
But an official of the team explained in a chat with The Guardian shortly before they took on USA here in Vancouver yesterday that the punishment could have been worse if the NFF had not acted promptly.
“I am sure FIFA actually wanted to ban her for at least one year for that incident, but we thank God they listened to our pleas,” the official said. “As soon as that match against Australia was over, we got to the hotel, only to receive a query. They explained that Njoku committed a big offence during the course of the match against Australia. From the tone of the letter, it was so clear that FIFA was ready to ban Njoku for one year or a minimum of six months. But we have to respond immediately, pleading that Njoku did not do it deliberately.
“We told them it must be a mistake and she should be pardoned. We even pointed out in our letter to FIFA that one of our players was also injured in that game against Australia and that camera did not get it, It was after our pleas that FIFA came up with that three match ban. Sincerely speaking, it could have been worse.”
Apart from the three-match ban, Njoku was fined CHF 3,000 and also issued a warning by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee after being found to have breached art. 48 par. 1 d) of the FIFA Disciplinary Code (FDC).
Njoku was not in the squad against USA yesterday as she has started serving her three-match ban.