Nigeria basketball: Fiba warns of long-term impact of withdrawal from internationals

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Nigeria celebrating qualifying for the 2022 Women's Basketball World CupNigeria women have won the past three African titles but their place at the World Cup is now in doubt

Fiba has warned officials in Nigeria that the impact of the government's withdrawal from international basketball will last longer than the proposed two years.

The sport's world governing body could ban the West Africans after the Nigerian sports ministry appointed an interim committee on Monday to run the country's federation (NBBF).

The decision to pull out of international competition - which was approved by Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari earlier this month - would affect both Nigeria's men's and women's team.

As things stand, Nigeria will miss September's Women's World Cup in Australia while the men's team will not be able to take part in the ongoing African qualifiers for the 2023 World Cup, which are due to continue in July in Rwanda.

The sports ministry says its committee intends to "revamp basketball from the grassroots in Nigeria, revive moribund domestic leagues and attract sponsors".

However, article 9.7 of Fiba's statutesexternal-link on third party interference prohibits governments from running national teams and the sport - meaning Nigeria could face sanctions.

"Nigeria is due to participate in the Fiba 2023 Basketball World Cup (FBWC23) qualifiers and 2022 Women's Basketball World Cup," Fiba said in a letter addressed to the NBBF president Musa Kida.

"Any withdrawal of Nigeria from the competitions will trigger potential disciplinary sanctions as per the Fiba internal regulations.

"Furthermore, if the absence of Nigeria from international competitions for the next two years materialises, the consequences may spread out well past such a two-year period.

"For example, please note that the withdrawal from the FBWC23 qualifiers is also a withdrawal from the Paris 2024 Olympic qualification process.

"Similarly, depending on third-party results, the same situation could apply with respect to Fiba AfroBasket 2025."

Despite the warning from Fiba last week of possible sanctions, the Nigerian sports ministry went ahead and installed its 10-person interim committee.

Players from D'Tigress, the women's national team, oppose the withdrawal from competitions, saying the decision takes away the team's goal to "elevate, inspire, and make Nigeria proud".external-link

Power struggles and team disputes

Nigeria women in action during a Women's World Cup qualifying gameNigeria women have been locked in dispute with the NBBF and the country's sports ministry

A protracted leadership crisis for control of the NBBF has been going on since 2017 - when Musa Kida and then-incumbent Tijani Umar emerged as factional leaders in two separate elections.

The battle for control of Nigerian basketball has also hampered preparations for international competitions and crippled the country's domestic leagues.

The issue has also affected the salary of Nigeria women head coach Otis Hughley, who led the team to qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, back-to-back African titles, as well as qualification for the 2022 World Cup - which included an historic win over France.

Players from D'Tigress have also been locked in a dispute with the NBBF and sports ministry over the non-payment of bonuses and organisational issues encountered during the Olympics in Japan.

Kida was re-elected as NBBF president in January, a result which was ratified by Fiba in March.

Despite the seemingly endless issues blighting the sport several overseas-born players and a strong community of diaspora players based in the United States have been persuaded to play for Nigeria's men's and women's teams.

This has led to success at the African Basketball Championships in recent years - with the men winning in 2015 and three straight triumphs for the women's team in 2017, 2019 and 2021.

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