…D’Tigress World Cup participation remains doubtful
By Alexander Johnson Adejoh
The Nigerian government has rescinded its decision to suspend the country’ basketball teams from all international competitions for two years.
The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Youth and Sports Development Ismaila Abubakar disclosed this at a news conference in Abuja last Thursday.
He said the latest decision is based on a letter of appeal from the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), signed by Musa Kida.
The government had on May 12, via a statement from the Ministry of Youth and Sports, quoting President Muhammadu Buhari, approved the country’s immediate withdrawal from all international basketball competitions for two years.
Buhari cited “the unending crises that have plagued and nearly crippled Basketball development in the country” as reasons for “the immediate withdrawal of Nigeria from all International basketball competitions for a period of two years.”
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, further said the withdrawal of the country’s teams from international basketball was to provide the government with the opportunity to revamp the sport from the grassroots as well as revive the domestic leagues which have become moribund.
On June 2, following the government’s decision, the sport’s global governing body, FIBA, kicked the Nigerian women basketball team, D’Tigress, out of the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup.
D’Tigress, Africa’s most successful women’s basketball team of the past two decades, had qualified for September’s World Cup in Australia after defeating France and Mali in the Group B of the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia.
FIBA’s decision came after deliberations with the Nigeria Basketball Federation to see how the decision by Abuja could be rescinded fell through.
Mali were subsequently picked to replace Nigeria at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup.
‘In subsequent communications with the NBBF, and despite FIBA’s request, it has become clear that against the circumstances created by the government’s decision, the NBBF is unable to confirm its participation in the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022,’ FIBA’s statement read in part.
‘Given the multiple strict deadlines that cannot be postponed in order to ensure the successful staging of a major international event (visa procedures, schedules, ticket sales, accommodations, friendly games, preliminary rosters, flight tickets, accreditations, etc.) and to protect the integrity of the competition, the FIBA Executive Committee has decided as follows:
‘Nigeria’s withdrawal from the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 is confirmed.
‘Mali, as the next ranked team from Group B of the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, is invited to participate in the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022.
‘FIBA will announce whether there will be any other decisions related to the NBBF’s participation in other FIBA competitions and any potential disciplinary measures in due course,” the statement concluded.
Whether the decision by Abuja to rescind the withdrawal would lead to a U-turn by FIBA, regarding Nigeria’s participation at this year’s World Cup remains unclear as a mail sent to the global body by our correspondent was yet to be replied as of the time of filing this report.
The Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) has been plagued by a series of crises over the years and currently has two parallel boards laying claim to the leadership of the federation.
On January 31, Musa Kida emerged as the winner in an election held in Benin City, while Mark Igoche was voted president in another election, same day, but in Abuja.