NIGERIA and Benin Republic could be embroiled in a major diplomatic spat involving global football body Fifa after indications that the Beninoise authorities falsely certified Everton midfielder Alex Iwobi was Covid-19 positive over the weekend.
On Saturday, Nigeria and Benin Republic faced each other in an African Cup of Nations qualifier at the Charles de Gaulle Stadium in Porto Novo. Although Nigeria won the game 1-0 and went on to qualify for the 2021 tournament, Iwobi could not feature in the match because he was diagnosed as coronavirus-positive by the local Benin authorities.
Under Fifa rules, host authorities have to text all players for coronavirus before matches and anyone diagnosed as positive has to be isolated from the rest of the team. Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) authorities now suspect that Iwobi’s positive result was fake and was the Benin authorities playing a fast one to ensure that the playmaker did not feature against their team.
Before the game, Iwobi was sent back to Lagos to isolate immediately after the result of the test was revealed in the Super Eagles camp. He is expected to undergo another test today to confirm if his positive test was just a ploy by the hosts to get one up on the Nigeria team by denying the Eagles the services of its playmaker.
NFF officials have said they will not accept the Benin Republic test until a new one is carried out in Lagos certifying it. If Iwobi tests negative, he will feature for the Eagles tomorrow when they play their final qualification game against Lesotho.