Enyimba FC have denied claims that their CAF Confederation Cup semi-finals opponents Raja Casablanca of Morocco were abandoned at the Port Harcourt International Airport upon their arrival Monday morning.
In a letter to CAF General Secretary, Amr Fahmy which he personally signed, the ranking member of the NFF Executive Committee wrote: “This complaint of Raja is an attempt to embarrass our club because Raja themselves are in violation of the rules of the competition after failing to provide us with details of their arrival.
We had reached out to them requesting their travel itinerary but we were not offered this information. Instead, the Chairman of Enyimba received a call on Sunday from Morocco that the team was landing in Port Harcourt at 2:45pm on Monday.
“We swung into action immediately and informed our protocol officers to be on standby. However, at 5 am this morning, the Chairman got notice of their presence in Port Harcourt already. This came as a shock because arrangements had been made to receive the team at 2:45 pm, not am, based on the call received.
“An official of our club was dispatched to the airport immediately and on getting there, he learnt of the team’s arrival by Air Maroc to Port Harcourt, which was by itself a strange landing. Air Maroc had no prior scheduled landing in Port Harcourt but being the official Moroccan airline, must have been influenced to land in Port Harcourt by Raja officials and authorities.
“At no time did Raja officials notify us they were coming in via Air Maroc. Had they done so, they would have revealed the very disturbing and suspicious fact that it was the same flight used by the match officials from Tunisia. So strange was the landing of Air Maroc in Port Harcourt that it had to fly back to Lagos for its scheduled landing.
“We already had tickets booked for Lagos to Port Harcourt and our protocol officer in Lagos was at the airport waiting for their arrival. Arriving in Lagos is the scheduled arrival based on the booking by CAF so why the change of destination to Port Harcourt.
“Back at the Port Harcourt airport, our protocol officer was told that some officials had already checked in at Novotel Hotel while the ones at the airport were trying to get their luggage.
“Shockingly enough, it was the Raja officials that led our protocol officer to the match officials and introduced him to them. This fact that the match officials traveled in the same flight with our opponents, Raja Club Athletic all the way to Port Harcourt, aborting the original Lagos route is deeply worrisome.
“Secretary General Sir, much as the referees may have a logical explanation as to their change of travel plans, we are gravely concerned. We have faith in the integrity of officials designated for this semi final game but we all know that affinity breeds complicity”.
“In conclusion, the actions of Raja are deliberate and designed to not only cast our team in bad light, but gain an unfair advantage on Matchday. These actions are against the rule of the sport and against fairplay and we request that CAF takes a hard stance against this by carrying out all necessary actions that would uphold the objectiveness and impartiality of the match.”