NPFL: Referees cry out in fear

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Referees in Nigeria are calling for more protection following a recent spate of violence against referees in the country’s top league.

There have been two major attacks on referees officiating in the Nigeria Professional Football League and the Nigeria Referees Association (NRA) says the Association deems it necessary to speak out as it fears for the welfare of its members.

In a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary Kelechi Mejuobi, the NRA pointing to attacks on its members at NPFL venues in Jos and Sagamu recently, said it 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.’

In a Week One match involving Plateau United and FC Ifeanyi Ubah match referees were set upon by irate fans of the home side in Jos after the game ended in a goalless stalemate.

Referees in the Week 3 match between Remo Stars and Bendel Insurance were also attacked after the game ended 1-1.

The statement informed that a General Assembly of the association shall meet to take a decision on asking it’s members keep away from the league and stressing that an earlier resolution that NRA members won’t honour matches on grounds where referees are beaten remains sacrosanct.

The NRA however called on the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, LMC and Club Owners, to as a matter of urgent concern intervene immediately to save the situation.

 

Full N.R.A Statement

RE- ATTACK ON REFEREES WHO HANDLED THE REMO STARS VS BENDEL INSURANCE MATCH AT GATEWAY STADIUM, SAGAMU, OGUN STATE
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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. 
6. 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. 
7. 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. 
8. 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.  
9. 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
National Publicity Secretary
NRA

 

About Carl Orakwue 68 Articles
Sports analyst, writer and presenter.

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