Nigeria's players, federation attack government for withdrawing teams from competition

2022-06-02 15:42
Credit: FIBA
Credit FIBA

Nigeria’s men’s and women’s basketball teams will not take part in international competition for two years, the country’s president announced ten days ago, jeopardizing chances of qualifying teams for the 2024 Olympics.

President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria's national basketball teams are immediately withdrawing from international competitions. The Nigeria Basketball Federation reportedly faced possible suspension last November over leadership and election issues in recent years.

The withdrawal of Nigeria 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.

Shane Lawal

Shane  Lawal
Position: C
Age: 35
Height: 208 cm
Weight: 102 kg
Birth place: Nigeria

Today, Nigeria's withdrawal from the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022 was confirmed by FIBA. 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.

In the wake of the latest developments and the decision being made official, several former and current players of the Nigerian NT reacted on Twitter. 

The first reaction came from the Nigerian Basketball Federation.

"We are saddened by the forced withdrawal of the women's team from the World Cup. We hope someday Nigeria will be led by a government without corruption and greed. The future of Nigeria basketball is extremely bright and we are being held back by our leaders.

Nigeria is the best basketball country in Africa. This didn’t happen because of our leaders. It happened because of the players and staff who put their blood, sweat, and tears into their work. Nigeria’s biggest threat from progress is Nigeria. We need change," the announcement reads. 

Former Sassari and FC Barcelona big man Shane Lawal wrote: "I tore my patellar tendon for Nigeria. And watched the trajectory of my career change (permanently) to help build something timeless. 

And they are willing to throw it all away. There's little accountability in a country ran like this. Nigeria Basket, my heart breaks for the ladies."

Sacramento Kings' forward Chimezie Metu didn't mince words. In his tweets, he mentioned the federation, the country's president Muhammadu Buhari, the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sport, the Minister for Youth and Development, and the president of the federation Ahmadou Mousa-Kida, underlining that "every single one" of them "should be ashamed" of themselves.

"The amount of embarrassment, greed, and corruption that you just showed to not only a deserving group of women but also an entire nation is extremely alarming. Decades of work have been thrown down the drain.

Multiple time African champions and multiple Olympic/World Cup bids and we don't get to even participate in the next competition, not because of an athletic inabilities but because grown men are too busy fighting over money," Metu went on to argue.

"Absolutely embarrassing. At the end of the day this is only a metaphor for what our people are going through in Nigeria. Innocent people suffering because our so called "leaders" are too busy being greedy."

Nigerian swingman Stan Okoye, who last played for Zaragoza in Spain, wrote:

"Wow, what a shame! Greed, selfishness, corruption, all the above. My heart is broken for these ladies. Well done, truly an embarrassment!"

If Nigeria sits out the entire two years, it will be ineligible for the Olympics under the recently published qualification timeline.

Nations bidding for Olympic qualification, other than host France, must take part in the FIBA World Cups in 2022 (women) and 2023 (men) and/or the first of two rounds of Olympic qualifying tournaments in 2023.

The 2023 FIBA World Cup will be the first such competition to be hosted by multiple nations: the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia. The prestigious contest will take place from August 25 to September 10.

The same kind of situation happened in the summer of 2019 when Team Nigeria almost didn't make it to China for the FIBA World Cup, because the money for the flights allegedly wasn't released until the last possible moment.

Team Nigeria gathered quite a lot of hype before the last major basketball competition, Tokyo Olympics when they stunned the USA in the Olympic exhibition game.

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