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Okonkwo: Fifa extends ban on Nigeria U17 World Cup-winning striker

10:54 PM IST 17/09/22
Orji Okwonkwo Bologna
An initial sanction was imposed on the player by the Italian anti-doping agency in June 2022

Football world governing body Fifa has extended a ban on former Nigerian junior international Orji Okonkwo.

The 2015 U17 World Cup-winning striker has been sanctioned following a doping violation by the Italian national anti-doping tribunal (Nado).

"In its ruling on the case for the worldwide extension of the ban, brought before it by Italian Nado, chairperson of the Fifa disciplinary committee, Jorge Ivan Palacio affirmed that the player had been cited properly," a statement from the Nigeria Football Federation and seen by GOAL, read.

"[Okonkwo] has had the opportunity to state his case, the decision has been communicated properly, the decision complies with the regulations of Fifa, and extending the sanctions does not conflict with public order or with accepted standards of behaviour.

"Consequently, the committee decided to extend the sanction imposed on the player by the Italian Nado on June 20, 2022. More specifically, the player is sanctioned with a four-year suspension from all football-related activities in accordance with the decision."

The striker had made five appearances and scored once – in a semi-final match against Mexico and registered an assist against Australia – for the Golden Eaglets in the 2015 World Cup U17 in Chile.

He has been inactive for over 200 days as he last played for AS Cittadella against Benevento on February 20, 2022.

Okonkwo signed for Bologna in August 2016 and made his Serie A debut against Palermo. He had to wait until September 24, 2017, to score his first league goal, against Sassuolo.

In 2018, the star signed a loan deal with Brescia before another loan move to Major Soccer League side CF Montreal in December 2019. Then, under Thierry Henry, Montreal re-acquired the striker on another loan deal – this time around with a purchase option – at the end of the 2022 season.

Thereafter, he signed more loan deals with Reggina in Serie B and Cittadella in February 2021 and July 2021, respectively.

The four-year ban on the player is between February 25th, 2022, and February 24th, 2026.