Football can be described as a war, but this battle of a war lasts only 90+ minutes before the referee blows the final whistle. All the ‘warriors’ must thereafter sheathe their swords, embrace and exchange jerserys if possible. But, no.
That is not usually the case in the Nigeria Professional football league matches.
Football’s major aim are to bring people from different walks of life together and in the process dismantle barriers created by ignorance, tribe, race, class and other distinguishing human made factors.
This was designed with the intention to bring peace and increased perfect social relationship to the world.
However, despite the joy, happiness and gains that are associated with football, gangsterism has become one albatross unfortunately linked with the beautiful game of football particularly in Nigeria.
*All over the world, referees are major actors in the game of soccer, they are arbiters with that bring resolution to knotty issues that bother on the FIFA rules of the game.
Without the referees, there would have been extreme and unresolved issues.Regularly, referees, coaches and journalists, fans, supporters and even spectators are exposed to the bitter taste of the “deadly concoction” served at most league venues.
Orgy of violence has become a worrisome norm in the Nigeria football pitches that dot the architectural landscape of Nigeria.
Distastefully, the perpetrators of violence at match venues range from coaches to players to backroom staff to cameramen and so on.
In 2014, Charles Ozigbo, a graded referee wished he had not presided over a league match between Rancher Bees of Kaduna and Kwara United of Ilorin. After an infraction which led Ozigbo to award a penalty to Kwara United.
Fans of the opposing team invaded the pitch in protest, turning anyone seen as an enemy, Ozigbo, a major official in that match was caught in the melee. He was beaten black and blue. The scars and memories of that “supporters’ madness” are ugly scenes that still haunt him till today.
In August, 2017, three players of the defunct Ifeanyi Ubah United attacked the Center Referee and dealt deadly blows on him after issuing a red card to Ifeanyi Ubah’s King Osanga. Subsequently, nine Ifeanyi Ubah’s footballers were banned.
Similarly, In 2018, the Center Referee in a match between Heartland and Plateau United, Yusuf Garba was almost killed by the home fans. His “crime” was that he allowed a last minute equalizer by the away time to stand.
Equally, in a second tier match between J-Atete and Ekiti United that held In June, 2022, the home fans descended heavily on Patience Nweke, the female Center Referee after a home loss to Ekiti united.Her purported sin was that she should, at all costs, made the J.Attete boys win.
It was reported she slumped after being beaten and suffered severe head injuries.
It is laughable, no, denigrating that team supporters in Nigeria league come to match venues with assorted ammunitions and charms being targeted at the officials and opponents.
Are there no security personnel at these match venues? Perhaps they have been overpowered and overwhelmed or bought over.
Was it not in a Nigerian league match that a hooligan was beating the referee and the whole number of security men present there were begging the hooligan?
In fact, some of the security personnel got beaten, too.
The minimum requirement for a league match to hold is fifty policemen. However, In some match venues, only 10 policemen or fewer than that are available to control more than 10000 spectators.
In fact, unlike in other climes, our stadium security men are more engrossed in watching the matches rather than monitoring over the spectators.
It is a gory sight to see supposed security men leaping for joy or sulking as the case may be when a goal is scored or conceeded by “their” team.
This is saddening and disheartening.
Curiously, an unruly fan goes unpunished while the clubs are asked to pay a paltry fine not enough to buy a loaf of bread.
Are the organisers of Nigerian football from another space? Do they not read or see what obtain in well organised Cline’s where orderliness is part of life?
No fan has ever been tried or jailed in Nigeria for unleashing mayhem at match venues.
To put an end to this shameful and dehumanizing act, the league body must do the following:
(i) cater for indemnities of referees
(ii) beef up securities at match venues.
(iii) mandate home teams to install CCTV cameras at the match venues in order to fish out troublesome fans.
(iv) coaches, players and fans should be enlightened and educated that the game is win some and lose some.
(v) anyone caught in the web of perpetrating violence at and around match venues should be tried and jailed so as to serve as deterrent to others. No sacred cows.
Finally, Nigeria referee association should always sensitize her men to avoid controversies that could endanger their lives.