Change the Narratives About Nigerian Referees

Change the Narratives About Nigerian Referees

*Gusau warns newly badged FIFA Referees

Duro Ikhazuagbe

Nigerian referees who have been snubbed from officiating in continental and global competitions have been told to turn new leaves. 

No Nigerian referee made the list of 68 officials appointed by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) that officiated at the recently concluded AFCON 2023 in Côte d’Ivoire.

But yesterday, at the decoration of 30 different referees with FIFA badges in Abuja to represent the country next year, the President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau charged the Nigerian referees to make conscious, deliberate efforts to change the sad narratives of sheer incompetence, flagrant disregard of the rules by some and blatant roguery by a few, through saying the truth to themselves and resolving to uphold their professional tenets while committing to decent conduct.

Gusau reiterated that a big sore point with the NFF and the Nigeria football  fraternity even as the Super Eagles excelled at the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cote d’Ivoire (finishing second in the 24-nation championship) was the absence of any Nigerian arbiter of any cadre at the 30-day event.

“The absence of any Nigerian referee of whatever cadre in Cote d’Ivoire remained ‘an elephant in the room’ for most of us that were in Cote d’Ivoire. 

“It is a real shame that we didn’t even have an assistant referee. The CAF Head of Refereeing was quoted at some time saying Nigerian referees are good but they need only the best to handle matches at major tournaments. Are we happy about that?” queried the NFF Chief.

Gusau admitted that he gets videos of poor officiating in the Nigerian topflight league and as well as the other leagues.

“I receive complaints/videos about poor officiating in our League matches almost every week, and always forward these to the Referees Committee to see that we still have some bad eggs amongst us. Some of the decisions I see are simply inexplicable. You must resolve here and now to change your ways and change the narratives about Nigerian referees at home and abroad.”

He disclosed that the Federation has opted to come up with stiffer sanctions for erring arbiters.

“To whom much is given, much is expected. We ensured that the NPFL improved indemnities at the beginning of the season, and I have also instructed the General Secretary to start the process of procuring the necessary gadgets for our referees. 

“But anyone caught disgracing the uniform, the refereeing body and by extension Nigeria football, will be thrown into a permanent cooler. We want to see you people officiating at top continental championships and we will not sit idly by while some incorrigible ones destroy all that vision.”

Earlier, Chairman of the NFF Referees Committee, Mrs Faith Irabor admitted that the Gusau administration has been very excellent in responding to the demands of referees since coming into office, and promised that all that is necessary will be done to restore Nigerian refereeing to its pride of place in the continent.

A total of 30 individuals were decorated, including seven men referees, seven men assistant referees, four women referees, four women assistant referees, four beach soccer referees and four futsal referees. One of the beach soccer referees, Jelili Ogunmuyiwa is presently on duty at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup ongoing in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates while Musa Dung Davou is on his way to the FIFA Futsal World Cup finals.

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