Nigeria has threatened to report two English clubs to FIFA if they do not release their players for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew said that striker Shola Ameobi will not be going to the tournament, which will take place in South Africa from January 19 to February 10. Millwall boss, Kenny Jackett, also said he expects defender Danny Shittu to turn down his country's call-up.
"These clubs are not only disrespecting Nigeria but FIFA and CAF as well," Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) board member Chris Green told the BBC. "The rules are clear on international games approved by FIFA so we consider these comments as not only ridiculous but totally disrespectful."
According to FIFA rules, a player who has been called up by his association for one of its representative teams is, unless otherwise agreed by the relevant association, not entitled to play for the club with which he is registered during the period for which he has been released or should have been released.
This restriction on playing for the club shall, moreover, be prolonged by five days in the event that the player, for whatsoever reason, did not wish to or was unable to comply with the call-up.
Green made it clear that the NFF will apply for the full weight of FIFA sanctions on both clubs if they do not release their respective players and even push for additional sanctions.
"Rules are rules. Newcastle and Millwall must understand the basics and why they exist," he said.
Pardew said of Ameobi: "Shola won't be going. The national team manager knows the reasons, which I am keeping to myself." That statement has been denied by Keshi, who said yesterday he has never spoken to Pardew.
At Milwall, Jackett said that Shittu is expected to reject the opportunity to play for Nigeria at the tournament. "I don't think he's going to go and I don't think he's been in touch with them. At the moment that's the decision," he said.