…Refs Threaten To Down Tools
- Ordinarily, it has not been in the fashion of the Nigeria Referees Association, NRA, to issue statements whenever incidents involving referees at the Nigeria Leagues occur, but the weekly reports of attacks on referees at the match venues whenever home teams fail to win on their grounds since the
2018/2019 League commenced may have caused a change in the association’s approach to assaults on referees in the NPFL.
- Recall that the sore point witnessed so far in the top Nigeria league that
is in Week Three is the “One Week, One Attack on Referee” incidents. In the Week
One match in Jos, Plateau State, Plateau United vs Ifeanyi Uba FC, the referees were beaten blue and back by supporters of home side because the drew at home.
Before the dust raised by the incident could rest following sanctions placed on the Jos stadium amidst heavy fines Plateau Utd was charged to pay, Gateway
Stadium in Sagamu, Ogun state turned another slaughter ground where referees suffered serious assault resulting to a bloodbath in the score draw match; Remo Stars vs Bendel Insurance.
- While the NRA awaits the decision of the league organisers, the LMC, it has
become imperative for the leadership of the referees body to once again not only condemn the barbaric act but also urge football authorities in the country to wade into matter because the association is on the verge of asking its members to keep away from the league to avoid being killed by desperate club officers and their rampaging supporters. A General Assembly of the association shall meet to take a decision on this matter even as the sanctions placed on Plateau Utd based on the earlier resolution that NRA members won’t honour matches on grounds where referees are beaten remains sacrosanct.
- It is obvious that the incidents in Jos and Sagamu, coming early in the Abridged League are ominous signs of bad days ahead for the domestic league, particularly, Nigerian referees taking part in the NPFL, who are at the verge of losing their lives at match venues if scenes witnessed so far from the violent venues are considered.
- It is on this note that the NRA who strongly cares for the welfare of its members and believes that no life of a referee is worth any league match in the country is considering keeping away from the NPFL matches to avoid a referee beaten to death. The desire to save the lives of referees forces the NRA to beckon on the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, LMC and so called NPFL/ Club Owners, to as a matter of urgent concern intervene immediately to save the situation.
- It is worthy to note that the NRA working in partnership with the NFF
Referees Committee had engaged in capacity training of the referees for the new season and considers all listed and appointed referees fit for the 2018/2019 football league. And if by any omission or commission, a referee conducts himself or herself in a manner likely to bring the game to disrepute and misconduct that affects the outcome of the game, the NFF Referees Committee, adjudicates the matter to ascertain proper sanctions to the defaulting referee(s) while the NRA has an Ethics/ Disciplinary Committee that recommends further punishment based on the degree of offence. Therefore, is an anathema in the football system for Club Owners and supporters exploit that to assault the referee.
- At this point, suffice it to note that the repeated dastardly acts are affecting the mental psyche of the referees at employing best practices in the course of discharging their duties at match venues for fear of being attacked, while their disposition to honour future NPFL matches has waned drastically.
- The association also frowns at the unsavoury attitude of some of the Club
Officials who out of partisan proclivity and desire to have their clubs win through unorthodox means make scathing remarks about referees and officiating knowing well such reactions have capacities of igniting crowd attacks on the referees. The NRA wishes to state that Club officials can’t be spectators and interested bidders in a match and at the same time interpret the Laws of the Game as unbiased umpires.
- All stakeholders are enjoined to preach and work against hooliganism on our league centres to enable the NPFL move forward. The NRA wishes to reconfirm our earlier resolve on ” BEAT A REFEREE, KILL NIGERIA FOOTBALL “
Kelechi Mejuobi the NRA National Publicity Secretary, has now revealed that the body may start to boycott league matches after its Annual General scheduled to take place soon. He said this after this week’s Executive Committee Meeting.