Following the recent assaults on match officials, the Nigeria Referees Association, NRA have decried the attacks on their members during Nigeria Professional Football League matches.
In a press statement released Monday by the National Publicity Secretary of the NRA, Kelechi Mejuobi, the association expressed their anger towards how referees were attacked by fans in Plateau and Ondo States while threatening to stay away from officiating matches.
The NRA further added that the association will convey an emergency meeting to take a stand on the master stressing that no league match is worth the life of a referee or anyone else.
“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 United 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.
“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 the 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 United based on the earlier resolution that NRA members won’t honour matches on grounds where referees are beaten remains sacrosanct.
“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.
“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.
“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,” the statement read.
The association also frowned 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 association therefore called on all stakeholders to preach and work against hooliganism on the league centres to enable the NPFL move forward.