The plans of the Nigerian Flying Eagles to participate in the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Indonesia have been dashed following FIFA’s decision to remove the Asian country as host of the tournament.
This comes as a result of the current circumstances surrounding Indonesian football, which has been in the news for the awry reasons in recent times.
More significantly, there have been protests in Indonesia – the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation – calling for Israel to be kicked out of the competition over its policies toward Palestinians.
The Nigerian U-20 boys, who had already qualified for the tournament after finishing third in the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations competition in Egypt, will now have to wait for a new host country to be announced.
The Flying Eagles had earned the bronze medal in the AFCON competition concluded barely two weeks ago.
Despite not being the favourites to win the tournament, the Nigerian team had worked hard to qualify for the U-20 World Cup and were hoping to make an impact in Indonesia.
However, FIFA’s decision means that their plans have been disrupted, and they will have to wait for further instructions from the football governing body.
In a statement released by FIFA, it was revealed that a new host country would be announced as soon as possible and that potential sanctions against the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) may also be decided later. The statement also underlined FIFA’s commitment to assisting the PSSI in transforming Indonesian football in close cooperation with the government.
The Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) has yet to release a statement regarding the news. Still, they are expected to work closely with FIFA to ensure that the Flying Eagles adequately prepare for the U-20 World Cup, wherever it takes place.
The Flying Eagles must now adjust their plans and prepare for a new host country. FIFA, however, insists that the competition’s kick-off date – 20 May to 11 June 2023 – remains unchanged.