Top NFF official blames referees for football violence

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Chairman of the Security Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Effiong Johnson,  has taken  a swipe at Nigerian referees for the increasing violence being witnessed on the domestic football scene.

Mr Johnson particularly fingered referees officiating in the Nigeria Premier League (NPL) and Nigeria National League (NNL), as major culprits describing their attitude as “shameful” and blaming most of them for the increasing cases of football violence in the country.

Mr. Johnson gave this damming verdict after the Division C NNL match between Akwa Starlets and Gray International played at the U. J. Esuene Stadium in Calabar on Wednesday.

Though the Akwa Ibom State side won through a 93rd minute strike from left-full-back Nicholas Joseph, the NFF bigwig felt the result should have been different but for the ineptitude of the match officials.

“It’s a big shame that referees are taking the game in the country backward. What we have seen today (wednesday) clearly confirms that.

“The officiating was very poor. Nigerians can now see the reason why violence occurs in our stadia. Our referees are no doubt the major cause.

“From what I saw in the stadium, the home fans might probably have descended on the match officials if the score line were different. The officiating was terrible. If referees do what is right, supporters will not be pushed to commit violence,”he opined.

Mr. Johnson continued, “The action of referee and his 1st assistantclearly instigated the crowd and I’m sure the NFF will look into such cases. I’ve called the Chairman of the Referees’ Appointment Committee and urged him to charge his team to be more intelligent when appointed referees for matches. If we must end violence, we must caution our referees,” he  said.

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