NFF drops wrangling supporters club members from Ndola trip

Amaju Pinnick

Amaju Pinnick

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) yesterday dropped members of the Nigerian Football Supporters Club from the delegation to the Super Eagles’ Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier against Zambia following their inability to resolve their differences.

Two factions of the Supporters Club stormed the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport yesterday morning laying claims to being the authentic version of the fans’ body, but the NFF told them to form a common front for the purpose of today’s game, arguing that it would be a major distraction if the club members took their quarrel to Zambia.

The factions, led by Rafiu Ladipo and Vincent Okumagbo could not agree, a situation that forced the NFF to stop them from joining the chartered Arik Air Flight to Ndola.

A source at the NFF disclosed that the Okumagba faction suggested that the federation picked 10 of their members and another 10 from the other group, but the Ladipo allegedly dismissed that suggestion, arguing that Okumagba had no right to suggest who would make the trip because ‘he has been suspended by the national body.’

Reacting to the stalemate, NFF President Amaju Pinnick, said it would be a big distraction to the ambition of the Super Eagles in Zambia if the factions took their fight to Ndola.

“We don’t need such distractions. If the supporters cannot put their house in order, there is no other option than to drop them from our trip.

“Right now, all we need is a united front to beat Zambia in our opening group game because that is the only way we can begin to think of winning our group,” Pinnick said before boarding the flight to Zambia.

One of the disappointed members of the Ladipo group later accused the NFF of bias because ‘Okumagba and Pinnick are from the same state.’ But an NFF official, who pleaded anonymity, told The Guardian that stopping the factions from the trip was the last resort as the federation had tried severally to unify the groups to no avail.

“This issue cropped up during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and the then NFF leadership could not resolve it because the factions refused to shift grounds.

“The main issue is that some people feel that Ladipo has no right to continue claiming the leadership of the group because they have elected leaders. But because of what Ladipo feels he has done for the club, the man does not want to go.

”It is unfortunate that we are going to Zambia without supporters club because they help in pushing our boys to success even in the face of adversity,” he said.

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