England's beaten players may consider they got off lightly. The price of failure for Nigeria's World Cup squad is a two-year ban – imposed by their president. The team has been suspended from international competition for a prolonged licking of wounds after their humiliating exit from the finals in South Africa.
Ima Niboro, a spokesman for the country's president, Goodluck Jonathan, said: "Mr President has directed that Nigeria will withdraw from all international football competition for the next two years to enable Nigeria to reorganise its football. This directive became necessary following the country's poor performance in the ongoing Fifa World Cup."
• Follow the Guardian's World Cup team on Twitter• Sign up to play our daily Fantasy Football game• Stats centre: Get the lowdown on every player• The latest team-by-team news, features and moreAfter meeting the country's World Cup organising committee, Jonathan said the accounts of the Nigeria World Cup organising committee should be audited and the hiring of the coach Lars Lagerback investigated. Niboro added: "If any financial misappropriation is discovered, all officials responsible will be held accountable."
Jonathan was sworn in as president of Nigeria last month following the death of President Umaru Yar'Adua after a long illness. There were some supportive comments for his radical measure on the Nigerian news website Next. Nanya wrote: "Way to go, Mr. President! In the next two years, some of those boys won't be playing anyone. At least, we can fish for new talents who are driven and willing to put their nation on the map of world soccer."
Fifa denied any official knowledge of the move but said its position regarding political interference in football was well known. Nigeria risks being banned by Fifa from all international football because of the government action. Fifa statutes demand that national federations manage their affairs independently or face suspension from world football.
The ban suggests that the euphoria around Africa's first World Cup, and Ghana's progress to the quarter-finals, has not been felt by everyone. Nigeria had a miserable campaign, losing to Argentina and Greece - the latter game turned by the sending-off of their midfielder Sani Kaita. They finished with a solitary point after drawing with South Korea.
Algeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and the hosts, South Africa, also went out in the first round, prompting criticism of Africa's star players. Jay-Jay Okocha, the former Nigerian international, told the BBC: "They've underachieved. For me it's all about character. I don't think our players have shown enough passion for the game, enough character. The will that they want to play for the continent, they want to die for the continent. I didn't see that. I think that's the difference between the way they played here and the way they play for their various clubs."
The Super Eagles have not won a World Cup finals match since 1998, going out with two losses and a draw in 2002 and failing to qualify for Germany 2006.
The Nigerian Football Federation's executive committee had earlier apologised to the "federal government and all football-loving Nigerians for the early exit of the Super Eagles from the World Cup" and added Nigeria would seek to play more friendly matches to get more experience. The NFF said it wanted Lagerback, appointed on the eve of the finals, to stay and put together a wide-ranging programme to harness young talent.
Nigeria's next scheduled international match is a qualifier for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, at home to Madagascar in early September.
Fifa's president, Sepp Blatter, has already expressed concern over the French government's investigation into France's first-round exit from the World Cup.
"Definitely I can tell you that political interference will be dealt with by Fifa notwithstanding what kind of interference and what is the size of the country," Blatter said yesterday. It could be worse. Officials in North Korea have been forced to deny rumours that the World Cup squad will be sent to work in coalmines as punishment for their three defeats.