Rivers Govt Drags NFF to CAS over 2019/20 NPFL Table


Femi Solaja

Rivers United FC’s disagreement with the League Management Company (LMC) on the placement of Enyimba over the Port Harcourt-based club has resulted in the Pride of Rivers State heading to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Switzerland to adjudicate on the matter.

This decision to take the matter to CAS was prompted by Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Committee’s report that endorsed LMC’s position of placing Enyimba ahead of Rivers United in the final standing of the NPFL table.

Rivers State’s government queried the recent trip of NFF’s President Amaju Pinnick to Abia State last week Friday, only for the Football Committee to

submit its position on Monday rubber stamping the decision to favour Enyimba as the second placed team of the NPFL.

Rivers Commissioner for Sports, Boma Iyaye stated the position of the State government on the final standing yesterday while receiving the newly elected executive of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Rivers chapter on a courtesy visit at his office in Port Harcourt.

Iyaye listed eight grounds of objections to the report of the NFF’s Football Committee, pointing out that “in the circumstances, we are constrained to express our deep reservations about certain half-truths, deliberate distortion of facts and obvious misinformation,” he said.

On the Committee’s claim that the clubs were duly carried along and voted twice in the final decision to end the league and use the Point-Per-Game (PPG) system, he stated that “The truth is that Rivers United Football Club never objected to the PPG, and continues to support the PPG system as agreed by the majority of the Clubs.

“Our position has always been that, rather than use an inconclusive head-to-head to separate two teams tied on points, the rules guiding the operations of the NPFL states that ‘goal difference’ shall be the first option to be used in separating teams that are tied on the same points, followed by ‘higher goals scored’ and lastly, head-to-head. We are only against the selective application of the Rules,” observed Iyaye.

The sports commissioner argued that Rivers United has a genuine case based on facts but were only being denied their rights owing to attempts by some people to deliberately shortchange the club.

“This is a clear case of injustice and undue victimization and in light of this development, the Rivers State Government; sponsors of Rivers United Football Club, is compelled to seek the proper interpretation of the applicable rules, and a pronouncement on the propriety or otherwise of the actions and decisions of the LMC on the matter, from the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).

“We are eager for justice and determined to protect Rivers people and its interest in line with the philosophy of our leader, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.”

He called on the Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare to wade into the matter and ensure that justice is dispensed in a free and fair manner.

“The President of NFF, Amaju Pinnick and Shehu Dikko (LMC chairman) are taking football in Nigeria 50 years behind. They should be called to order or Nigerian football will continue to dwindle,” he stressed.

The commissioner had earlier assured the newly elected SWAN executive led by Udede Jim-Opiki of support and cooperation in the discharge of their duties.