I know you won’t give them a pass mark. You may even say they are the real problem of the Nigerian league. For me, it’s a mixed feeling, if you have witnessed things that happen in different match venues; you would have no other word but to describe the Nigerian league Venues as – HELL!
It’s better witnessed than hear the story, when in some venues security personnel even become fanatical. The truth is Referees face such hazardous risk officiating league matches in Nigeria and you can’t blame them for all the wrong.
“Beat a Referee and Kill Nigerian Football:” Nigerian Referees Association (NRA) came out with this slogan. But they have been beating referees to stupor and Nigeria football refuse to die. You might say its in comatose state, but when you beat referees and the game keep going on – no proper sanctions melted to the team or those involved – it means more referees would receive more sever pounding in future.
If a Referee die on the field, his wife and children will suffer, because they will be forgotten. Our system is such that if you die on active duty, ‘to God be the glory!’ The next day they will play a league match. If at all you are remembered, they would give you a minute silence – that’s all you get!
“What Does Law 18 Say?” The Referees aren’t comfortable with the shabby arrangements they call security at match venues. What do you expect a referee to do when he faces life threaten danger – when he is harassed by thugs or when there is fracas at the venue?
He must first of all save his own head by using what is called law 18! And what does Law 18 say? “Use your common sense!” If you have to be bias or even call off the match to save your life, so be it!
“Refereeing for the Good of the Game:” I will not pretend not to be aware. There are bad eggs in the system. The referees who aren’t really thinking of the game, they are thinking of their selfish interest more than the good of the game.
Some referees have to be blamed for the mishaps in some match venues, because they don’t interpret the law well. Yet they are not sanctioned by the O and D or Flushed out by NRA.
“Referees are exposed to Manipulations:” Often as there may be problems between NFF and NPL, the referees indemnities accrue and most times won’t be paid on time. How can referees officiate matches and you owe them? This gives room for suspicions, because if you aren’t paid and you keep officiating matches, it means there’s something more driving you. If indemnities are not paid, referees are open to manipulations by club officials.
There are times when NPL say the home team will settle referees indemnities and take care of their welfare – hotel, feeding, and entertainment - that’s playing into the hands of the devil! Our referees are exposed so much to the manipulations of club officials.
“Set up a Good Performance Ground:” The good performance of Nigerian referees is related to the provision of adequate security in all match venues. Referees should have good welfare package, then the disciplinary committee must be decisive in expelling any referee that errs.
NFF, LMC, and NRA can work together to develop world class referees for the good of the game in Nigeria and the world over.