Nigeria withdraws from Women’s Basketball World Cup, Mali tabbed as substitute

(Nikola Krstic/MB Media/Getty Images)

The Nigerian government has withdrawn its basketball teams from all international competitions for the next two years, including the upcoming FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup.

Mali has been invited to participate in the World Cup in the place of Nigeria, according to a statement FIBA released Thursday.

A letter released by Nigeria’s ministry of youth and sports said the withdrawal was due to “the unending drama that have plagued and nearly crippled basketball” in the West African country.

“[This] will enable Nigeria to revamp the sports from the grassroots as well as domestic leagues which have become moribund,” the letter continued.

Per a report from BBC Sport Africa, however, the decision to withdraw was made to avoid protests that both the men’s and women’s teams were preparing to stage at international tournaments.

The Nigerian Basketball Federation will be dissolved with an interim committee appointed to oversee basketball operations in the country, BBC Sport Africa reported.

Nigerian women’s player Upe Atosu described the withdrawal from international competitions as “heart-wrenching.”

“Sport is not [a] puzzle that you have to crush what’s working to fix what’s not working,” Atosu wrote on Twitter. “This isn’t the best route.”

The Nigerian women’s national team also posted a lengthy Twitter thread expressing their disagreement with the two-year ban.

“The ban is taking away all our future competitions, accomplishments and goals to elevate, inspire and make Nigeria proud!” they wrote.