Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi, and his employers the Nigeria Football Federation, has responded to the query FIFA issued him. The query is over his alleged racist remark targeted at Malawi technical adviser Tom Sainfiet.
The Nigeria coach was given a September 16 deadline to respond to the query.
The General Secretary of the NFF Musa Amadu who spoke with The PUNCH on Tuesday confirmed that the response to FIFA’s Zurich headquarters was dispatched on Monday deadline.
He said, “Yes, we met the deadline. The response was sent by email and fax. And today (Tuesday) we are sending the hard copy by courier service.”
Amadu said he was positive that FIFA would understand the background under which the statement was made.
“We’ve explained the circumstances under which the statement was made; it was under normal pre-match antics we see of different coaches.
“Of course we all know that Keshi is somebody who has cross-cultural background and incidentally played his professional football career in Belgium where Saintfiet comes from. He was never involved in any racist row all through his career as a player. His intentions were pure and not the way it appears; they were merely based on football relations.”
The Malawi federation reported to FIFA what it called ‘racist’ remarks by Keshi aimed at the Belgian.
“We feel the racist remarks by Mr Keshi are not acceptable,” FAM’s general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda said after their federation sent official complaint to Zurich.
“We thought it was a personal attack on our coach and we had to defend him regardless of skin. We felt we should help our coach and at the same time put a stop to the racist remarks from Mr Keshi. We have sent evidence of what Keshi said and we hope FIFA will come up with some measures to control Mr Keshi.”
In the phone interview aired on UK-based African television show, Keshi was quoted to have said, “I think the coach of Malawi is crazy. If he wants to talk to FIFA, he should go back to Belgium. He is not an African person, he is a white dude, he should go back to Belgium.”
It is not yet clear what type of sanction may be handed Keshi if found culpable. Active players are usually suspended from a number of matches and fined as well while teams are made to play their games in empty stadiums if their fans are guilty of racist acts. In recent times acts of racism have been rampart in the Italian league while the separate cases involving Luis Suarez and former England captain John Terry made the headlines in English football.
FIFA and other regional football governing bodies have stepped hard against racism in response.
Source: Punch Nigeria