Legal Nigeria

Osimhen pulls out of AFCON as Napoli threaten ‘legal battle’ with Nigeria

By Christian Okpara

Victor Osimhen

Super Eagles Striker, Victor Osimhen, yesterday, pulled out of the Cameroun 2022 African Cup of Nations to “allow the injury he copped during a Serie A game heal properly.”

Osimhen, who was in Nigeria for the Christmas holidays, was reported to have tested positive to COVID-19, yesterday, the second time the former Wolfsburg striker would be afflicted by the ailment.

He was listed by Coach Augustine Eguavoen in Nigeria’s 28-man squad for the African Cup of Nations, but the U-17 World Cup winner has now informed the coach that he will not be available for the competition.

Earlier yesterday, Osimhen’s club, Napoli, said they ‘will not rule out’ a legal battle with the NFF after the player tested positive for COVID-19, potentially excluding him from Africa Cup of Nations duty.

According to, Osimhen returned home for the Christmas break and was meant to undergo a specialist check-up with doctor Gianpaolo Tartaro today in Naples, the surgeon who operated on his multiple facial fractures last month.

Before Osimhen took the decision to opt of the African Cup of Nations, Napoli wanted to use COVID-19 as a base to force Nigeria to give up the player, or at least leave him at the club until after the game with Juventus.

“With an agreement between Napoli and the NFF, Osimhen could have played against Juventus on January 6 and then left immediately after the game,” club lawyer Enrico Lubrano told Radio Punto Nuovo.

“However, COVID complicates everything. The club can say the player is unavailable, but the situation must be verified by the Federation’s medic. What the FIFA rules do not state is the place where the medical verification is made.

“The FIFA rules note that if a player does not go on international duty because of injury, he cannot be used by his club during the same period that he would’ve played for his country, even if he recovers earlier.”

Lubrano was asked if there could potentially be a legal battle should Napoli ask for Osimhen to be examined by doctor Tartaro and Nigeria refuse to let him leave?

“It is a realistic scenario. Medicine is not an exact science, one doctor can say one thing and another medic give a different opinion.

“FIFA give the final word to the Nigerian Federation. We won’t rule out taking legal action against the Nigerian Federation, seeking compensation.”