World Football governing body, FIFA has recognised 29 Nigerian referees for international matches for the 2019 season.
The Nigerians who are members of the Nigeria (Football) Referees Association, NRA were decorated on Monday in the ancient city of Kano.
Led by the President of the NRA, Otunba Tade Azeez, the referees, comprising men and women who were decorated with the FIFA badge by the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, President represented by other board members.
For the 11-Aside football, Nigeria has a list of 21 referees, seven each for Men Referees and Assistants while women has three for the referees and flour for Assistants.
Other categories the country parades FIFA referees are four each for Men Futsal and Beach Soccer.
Speaking at the event, Otunba Tade reminded the FIFA badged referees to consider their elevated rankings as a call to duty where they are expected to be shining stars to others.
He enjoined them to continue to justify why they are found worthy for the international badges while on and off the field of the play as they are privileged to be the country’s ambassadors.
Tade further admonished them to avoid acts capable of tarnishing their image and that of the country while discharging their duties. Expressing happiness that no Nigeria FIFA badged referee was among the indicted match officials penalized for corruption at the continental level by the Confederation of Africa Football, CAF,,
after the Ghana spy-journalist exposure of fraudulent football elements, Tade tasked them to establish the right mentality needed by CAF and FIFA, including good health, ability to pass medical and physical fitness tests and knowledge and good interpretation of the Laws of the Game at all times to retain the badges yearly.
While disclosing the readiness of the NRA to not only protect the interest of referees at match venues, the President warned that no referee should be demoralized by the unsavoury incident on one of the centres of the NPFL league opener where a referee was battered on Sunday for not aiding the home team to win their match in their soil.
” Don’t be disturbed by the Jos incident. We are waiting for the appropriate authorities to make pronouncements before any action. Do your best for our game to grow. Apply best practices in the course of discharging your duties and don’t succumb to the antics of players and clubs to derail the good officiating system we have started for the season” Tade added.