Almost 16 years after being hit with a four-month ban and a fine for ‘offensive behavior’ towards English referee Howard Webb, Nigerian coach Ladan Bosso expresses personal growth and maturity.
Bosso’s controversial incident occurred during the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada, where he accused Webb of racism. Now, as he prepares to lead Nigeria’s U-20 team to Argentina in 2023, Bosso acknowledges his past actions and emphasizes the significance of maturity and obedience.
Recalling the eventful match against Chile in 2007, Nigeria’s U-20 team suffered a 4-0 defeat in extra time following a goalless 90 minutes.
Bosso commented after the game, “What happened on the pitch, the officiating, I think FIFA has a long way to go to beat racism because that official showed racism.”
The Nigerian players protested as Chile scored the opening goal six minutes into extra time, resulting in goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa receiving a yellow card. Suraj Sodiq was subsequently red-carded, reducing Nigeria to ten men. The team accumulated five yellow cards and a red card, while Chile received only a single yellow card throughout the quarterfinal encounter.
In the aftermath of the match, Bosso’s accusation of racism led to a four-month ban and a fine imposed by FIFA, alongside an apology from the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
Reflecting on the incident, Bosso told Nigerian Info, “The world cup is not static. The rules change every day… All we need to do is to train our boys to play according to the rules and regulations of the tournament and FIFA.”
With the upcoming U-20 World Cup, Bosso acknowledges the changes that have transpired in football since 2007. He emphasizes the importance of maturity and adherence to the evolving rules and regulations. “The most important thing, as we grow, we grow with maturity,” Bosso asserts. He also points out the transformation in the composition of the team, noting an increase in the number of foreign professionals who are ready to compete.
It is worth noting that Nigeria has only reached the quarterfinals of the U-20 World Cup once since their exit in Canada 2007, accomplishing this feat in 2011. Notably, players such as Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Elderson Echiejile, Efe Ambrose, and Brown Ideye, who were part of the 2007 squad, have since played for the senior national team, the Super Eagles.
In light of the upcoming tournament in Argentina, Coach Ladan Bosso and his team are determined to prove themselves on the world stage and seek redemption.