From: TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt Hundreds of youths in Rivers State yesterday, staged a peaceful protest in Port Harcourt, condemning the activities of some operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the state police command. Protesting on the platform of Niger Delta Non-Violence Youth Leaders Assembly (NDNYLA), they marched through some major streets in…
The impact of two sad events in quick succession in our domestic elite football league gives cause for concern. The ugly developments ought to put a halt to the celebration of accomplishment by the officials of the League Management Company (LMC).
Firstly, the League champions have continued to record steady decline in performance when paired with their counterparts across the continent. Enugu Rangers, and Rivers United are the latest casualties of a system that can’t hold its own in Africa.
Secondly, the spill of blood and violence witnessed in kano, Katsina and Remo are engaging the attention of the football community in Nigeria at the moment.
Hypocritically, the LMC has rolled out punishments as contained in their rules book, and most football followers are laughing. The reason is simple:Treating a chronic ailment with same inefficacious drug and still be expecting rapid healing.
Kano Pillars FC is only used here as a point of reference because their’s is the most recent, but all the clubs in our local league are guilty of blood letting and violence.
Unfortunately, the punishments are always a slap on the wrist. Are we not playing the ostrich, to expect any referee to go to Kano or any venue for that matter in foreseeable future and be neutral, Whether the doors are closed or flung open.
Instructively, the Nigerian Referees Association has rejected the recent decisions of the LMC. Experience has shown that playing under closed doors in Nigerian setting is more of a blessing than a curse as it encourages compromised referees to do ‘their thing’ either way. Have you wondered why televised matches enjoy relative good officiating in Nigeria?
Expectedly, league managers have imposed heavy monetary fines in response. By the way, who benefits from the huge fines imposed by LMC? Who verifies that such fines are paid? And into whose account?
Similarly, banishing teams to their next door neighbours cannot be a deterrent to violence. If the present rules governing the League have become incapable of sustaining the widely acclaimed improvement in our local league, let the organisers call for a review. For instance, it’s not enough to advise home teams to educate their ball boys, whose activities have continued to bring the image of the game to disrepute.
The LMC owes itself a duty to correct the impression that it is not consistent in the interpretation of its own rules. And to also convince us that only one league exists in the elite division, managed by one body in our country. Concerns have been raised over televised matches. A situation where some venues are favourites while others hardly see the flash lights of TV cameras for a whole season cannot be justified.
El-kanemi Warriors might end up not losing a single home match this season, a record formerly held by Kano Pillars FC. Perhaps, the fans in Kano are not used to seeing their darling team lose at home. Yet, the management of the club deserves commendation for condemning the excesses of their fans, but should go a step further to cage them.
The allusion by the LMC that football is an emotional game is a tacit approval for violence.
A journalist is not a prophet, but uses past experiences to predict the future. The danger posed by these sad developments must be put in proper perspective.
Painfully, parts of the official statement by NRA, and a piece yours sincerely did recently are highlighted here to remind us all that the ominous Signs had been there.
NRA, s Statement :
“After a careful study of the decisions LMC made public, the NRA has no option than to protest the indifference attitude of the League organisers to the plight of referees involved in the match and persistent non consideration of the post-attack treatment of referees after sustaining injuries arising from physical assaults before, during and after matches.
The careful exclusion of the medical treatment of the highly injured referees and non consideration of the amount they must have spent and other cost for treatment of injuries after the incident is not only unfortunate but unacceptable to us.
Suffice it to note that the referees were the worst hit and unfortunate victims of the riotous acts of supporters in Kano. Ironically, LMC did not consider the referees in the decisions for necessary compensation.
While asking the LMC to recall that in the past, referees attacked and assaulted by fans in match venues failed to receive monies spent for medical treatment; an ugly trend that has not gone down well with the NRA especially, the listed premier League referees.
Except, referees in NPFL are the “sacrifical lamb” of the elite domestic league, the LMC would have considered the fate of match officials attacked by club players and supporters at league centres.
Referees have suffered permanent and temporary injuries due to fans’ attack. The scars are sad reminders of zero action from LMC.
Furthermore, medical treatment claims and cost of items lost by referees in the past have not been redeemed till date while the LMC continues to crave for a better league without considering the plight of referees after suffering violence in match venues.
In view of the above, the NRA requests the LMC to consider the sanctions handed to clubs who attacked referees in the incidents decided so far as no match is worth the life of any referee in Nigeria.
Some couple of weeks back, “Massive Attack” beamed search light on the local league and opined that : “A strong local league ought to enhance our national team and make our flag-bearers in continental football more competitive.
Visiting teams get so frustrated that their players turn to ball boys as the home boys are always instructed to abandon their duties once their team is ahead. The referees do nothing. Don’t even trust any added time in our league.