The game of football has been known to create bitter rivalries, the biggest if upsets when it comes to eventual outcomes and violence. Violent reactions occur in the stands among rival fans and sometimes on the pitch between players of opposing teams.
In order to quel tensions and give the best possible result for any given football match, a neutral body is provided and given the authority to make calls that follow given rules using the best judgment – the referee.
In Nigerian football, it was thought to be a thing of the past to see referees maltreated and violent actions taken on them either by the players or the fans. It has continued from where it left off.
After a prolonged and unnecessary break, the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) resumed amidst what was supposed to be a joyful start to a new season it was marred by fan violence on referees.
The League Management Company (LMC) took action by administring fines on the club responsible. Now everyone thought it will end.
Macthday three came, the referees felt safe again, but were they? Another incident broke out which saw the center referee for the match between Remo Stars and visitors Bendel Insurance – both teams newly promoted – Bethel Nwanesi badly beaten by the fans because of what they felt was an improper officiating from him.
An assistant referee Mimisen Iyorhe, questioned the length at which such abuse on match officials will go, pointing out that violence on an official solves no problem. She also admitted missing the days of late Col. Joro Dogo Yabilsu, who was a former president of the Nigeria Referees Association (NRA).
Probably due to his military background, Col. Yabilsu was a no nonsense match official, that although the system was not corrected under him, he was a force to reckon with when it came to the abuse of referees by aggrieved fans.
It is only matchday three and Nigerian football has witnessed two attacks on referees, what should be the position of the NRA if the LMC keeps acting like a toothless bulldog?