Nigeria’s domestic championship’s governing body, League Management Company (LMC) has been called to question over what many soccer fans and pundits believe are linient puinishments handed out to Kano Pillars’ captain, Rabiu Ali and the City of Groundnut Pyramids club, following the fracas their incideted at Agege Stadium, Lagos on Monday.
In the wake of the fracas, which saw fans of the Kano-based club running riot, hurling stones and planks into the VIP stands of the arena, the LMC on Wednesday announced a 12-match ban for Ali and N8m fine for the club, much to teh chargrin of observers, who want stiffer measures.
The sanctions come after Ali (aka Pele) attacked the match referee in his team’s 1-1 draw with Rangers International of Enugu in the NPFL Super-6 Championship Playoffs, which led to riotous scenes from the club’s fans at Agege Stadium, Lagos.
The 32-year-old attacker midfielder, who is a former home-based Eagles’ regular, had always been known to be gentle before now, but he blew his top recklessly by repeatedly confronting the ref on Monday, alleging a gang-up against his side at The Soccer Temple.
That came after Ali opened the score for Sai Masu Gida with a free-kick, but The Flying Antelope drew level after they were awarded a penalty in the dying moments of the contest and Godwin Aguda converted it.
Ali, who incidentally is Pillars’ captain openly confronted the referee after the final whistle, even after his teammates tried to stop, as he alleged that the spot award was fishy.
While also opining that the match arbiter ended the game before time, Ali allowed his tempter boil over, all of which instigated irate fans of the northern Nigeria side and they invaded the pitch with planks.
Though the City of Groundnut Pyramids’ club sued for pardon, arguing that Ali had always been a disciplined player in his long and illustrious career, the LMC did the needful by coming down hard on him.
Pillars too wee not spared LMC’s hammer, as the sanctioning body also hit the club with an N8m fine and told to play three home games of next season behind closed doors, plus suspended three points deduction.
However, a cross-section of observers argued that Pillars should have been thrown out of the competition all together, which would stop them from getting the nod to reprsent Nigeria in the CAF Champions League, while Ali ought to have ben banned for a year.
Ray Power FM analayst, Ikechukwu Ajuonuma argued Thursday morning that the LMC had created a situation of double styandard, and inferred that they might have been lenient on Ali due to his age.
Ajuonuma posited: “The LMC have just given a knock on the back of the hand for Ali and Kano Pillars.
“Maybe they pitied him because he is already 38 years old and a long ban could automatically cause him to retire, but the rules should be applied the way they are spelt out.
“There’s a precedent of Gbolahan Salami, who was once banned for a year due to similar conduct, but Ali has only received a knock on the hand by the LMC this time around.
“The suspended points deduction for Kano Pillars is also not in order, as CAF even discqualified a Tunisian club from the Champions League due to similar crowd trouble. Why is LMC’s case different.