National Sports Festival: Athletes Worry Over Poor Officiating

A number of athletes at the on-going 19th National Sports Festival in Abuja say they are getting worried at the quality and performance of the officials at the competition.

A cross-section of the athletes told the News Agency of Nigeria at the National Stadium, Abuja, that low quality and poor performance have led to allegations of bias.

Sarah Samuel, who plays for the Adamawa female basketball team said, “The performance of some of the referees was appalling. They sided some teams to the detriment of other teams.

“I am shocked at what I have seen so far. The officiating has not been fair at all and the referees just don’t care. The worrying part is that nothing is done if you complain. They only say ‘sorry’ and continue what they are doing. This is an aspect of sports I want the organisers of the festival to look into now and in future editions,” she said.

Deborah Daniels, another athlete, said she has also witnessed incidences of biased officiating and called on the NSF organisers to conduct standard training for the officials.

“There should be training for them on unbiased officiating and professional conduct,’’ Daniels who represented the Plateau female basketball team said.

“Poor officiating and, the worse part, officiating to favour one team affect sports negatively, irrespective of what sports activity you are involved in.

“I am very worried at the rate it is happening at this festival. I hope the organisers will do something about it fast,” she said.

Daniels said she was devastated by the development and expressed the hope that with constant training and punitive measures, sports officiating would improve.

Victor Bullet, an Ondo state male volleyball and hockey player, agreed that biased officiating had been witnessed at the 19th NSF.