As part of its effort to strengthen the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) ahead of next season, the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) have concluded plans to re-organise the referees’ committee.
There were several allegations against some referees, who were accused of trying to destroy the game in the just concluded 2015-2016 NPFL season, an act the NFF sees as unhealthy for the development of the league.
The chief executive officer of the League Management Company, Nduka Irabor, said in Lagos yesterday that the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, had promised to put the machinery in place to ensure that every loophole concerning officiating of league matches were blocked before the commencement of the new season.
There have been several allegations by club officials, supporters and fans that some of the referees were used by ‘some superior officials,’ who assigned them to officiate matches they had ‘special interest.’
Most worrisome to some Nigerian football fans is the fact that some of the referees, who undermined the rules governing their profession, were rotated from one match to another despite their glaring shortcomings. Some of them, seen as ‘untouchables,’ officiated many matches in the league due to alleged ‘compromised relationship’ with those who assigned them to games.
But Irabor said yesterday that the NFF would soon come up with a new regime that would arrest the situation.
He said the new order would ensure that those who appoint referees will be different from those who assess their performance, just as a different organ will ensure they are disciplined in case of misconduct.
“The NFF president has said there will be a re-organisation in the referee committee before the 2016/2017 NPFL season,” Irabor said. “He (Pinnick) has made it clear that those who appoint the referees would be different from the body that will assess performances of the referees and, also those who will discipline them. It is unlike the present situation where those who assign the referees are the same people who will assess their performances, and also discipline them. The new system being proposed by the NFF is the practice in other places and it is meant to put the referees on their toes from time to time.”
It would be recalled that in April this year, the NFF sent 50 referees for capacity building in the United Kingdom in an effort to equip them for the just concluded NPFL season. But to some Nigerians, the exercise did not change much in the officiating of the league.