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Nigerian Football

LMC Vows To Protect Referees

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In apparent reaction to the Nigeria Referees Associations criticism of recent decisions of the League Management Company on the riot that followed matches in Kano and Gombe, the LMC chairman,

Shehu Dikko has restated that safety and welfare of all persons at match venues counts high.

This, according to a press release by Harry Iwuala, includes that of match officials whom he said is of paramount importance to the league body.

Dikko was clarifying the misconception contained in a letter to him by the president of the NRA, Tade Azeez which suggested that the LMC neglected to order compensation for the match officials assaulted at the Sani Abacha Stadium by some misguided fans after the Match Day 18 fixture between Kano Pillars and Akwa United.

The LMC Chairman said it would be wrong to create an impression that assault on match officials has been a regular feature of the NPFL and pointed out that the incident in Kano was just the second on-field incident that affected match officials with the first being on Match Day 1 in Enugu in the match between Rangers International and Abia Warriors.

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“In this case the LMC fined Rangers N250, 000 as compensation to the Match Commissioner who was the victim in addition to any certified medical expenses that may arise.

“In the Match Day 12 incidence in Nnewi, the LMC investigated the report and found that the attack on the match officials could have been a robbery as it happened on their way to the motor park a day after the match and wrote to warn FC IfeanyiUbah that Referees must be protected until they depart the city.

“The Match officials’ reports also supported this finding”. Dikko further corrected the erroneous impression that the compensation for the Match Officials assaulted in Kano on Sunday were not covered by the sanctions announced on Tuesday.

“This was indeed  the second charge in the Summary Jurisdiction notice issued Kano Pillars and which read, ‘You are in breach of Rule C1 of the Framework and Rules of the Nigeria Professional League Football League, in that on Sunday, 9th April, 2017, immediately after your Match Day 18 Fixture: Kano Pillars FC vs. Akwa United FC, some of your stewards and supporters assaulted match officials (including the Referee, the First Assistant Referee, the Second Assistant Referee and the Fourth Official), thereby failing to comply with the principles of fair play and sportsmanship.

“We went ahead to fine Kano Pillars N1m for this breach and impose the payment of compensation of N250, 000 for each of the four match officials in addition to any verified medical cost that the injured officials may bring.

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“This was contained in paragraph B of the Summary Jurisdiction notice issued to Kano Pillars”, Dikko further stated.

The LMC said it considers match officials and the NRA as partners in the organisation of the league and advised that all channels of communication existing between the two bodies should always be used, harping on the need to avoid public statements that tend to portray the league negatively.

“Our public statement on the recent sanctions started with assurances to Fans, Referees, Players, Coaches and Journalists that safety at match venues would continue to be attended to at all times and this explains why we have taken deliberate steps to attend to the general and individual professional pursuits of our Referees through financial and material support.

“This season, the LMC has included match officials in a comprehensive combined welfare e Insurance package for Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) which before now covered only club officials, coaches, players and backroom staff.

“Indeed, the compensation package negotiated for the Referees is higher than all parties as they are at more risk given their very critical role in matches.

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“It is noteworthy that the LMC is at present processing claims for a Referee who sustained injuries from an accident on his way home from an NPFL match”.

Buttressing further how the LMC has been supportive of the individual and general good of the Referees, Dikko said “it is pursuant to enhancing the professional performance of the Referees that the LMC has been providing support funding for the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Referees Committee which collaborates with the NRA in organizing fitness tests and training programs to ensure our referees are well trained and attained optimal level.

“In this ongoing 2016/17 season, it is also on record that the LMC has provided over 100 elite Referees with cooler set of three match uniforms free of charge as further motivation to do well and reduce the financial burden on Referees in respect of procurement of uniforms”, Dikko noted.

He insisted that contrary to the claims by the NRA President, “all claims arising from previous assaults on match officials were remitted directly to the concerned persons directly by the LMC which in turn deducts the amount from clubs’ earnings from sponsorship funds.

“The only outstanding claim is that of Referee Ago who in respect of his damaged FIFA wrist watch and for which he made an initial claim in dollars but has now agreed to be compensated in Naira”.

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Finally, Dikko assured the NRA President that the LMC will not relent in providing the right environment and atmosphere at match venues on match days to ensure that Referees discharged their responsibility without hindrance. To this end, additional security measures would be instituted at all match venues to ensure the right atmosphere at all matches.

 

 

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Nigerian Football

Enugu Rangers hold on grimly at the top as Nigerian league gets to home stretch

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Enugu Rangers may have broken loose from the pack following their comprehensive  3-0 victory over Bayelsa United on Sunday.

As if to aid Rangers’ hold of the top position, their closest rivals, Remo Stars who were initially just a point behind fell like  papers blown by the huricane, losing 3-2 to Kwara United. Their loss dealt a big blow on their title aspirations as they are now four points behind Enugu Rangers and had also narrowed their goal difference.

They are now third having been overtaken by Enyimba who have better goal difference even though both are with 56 points.

Shooting Stars who suddenly peaked in the second half of the season are fast pacing up, getting to the fourth position and three points behind Remo Stars.

They were dealt a blow in the added time as Katsina United’s Michael Okoro got an added time goal against to stalemate scores at 2-2.

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Just as Enugu Rangers are at the cusp of the championship, the fates of Gombe United and Heartland appear already decided as the second tier Nigeria National League are already waiting to welcome them next season.

Akwa United may have navigated their ways out of relegation waters following their 2-1 away win over Lobi Stars. Akwa United are now 15th on the log. In Jos, former champions, Plateau and Niger Tornadoes played uninspiring goalless while relegation-troubled Heartland of Owerri spanked Gombe United 3-0 just as Kano Pillars dimmed Doma United 3-1.

All the results:

Sunshine Stars 0-0 Bendel Insurance

Rivers United 4-1 Sporting Lagos

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Lobi Stars 1-2 Akwa United

Kwara United 3-2 Remo Stars

Katsina United 2-2 Shooting Stars

Kano Pillars 3-1 Doma United

Heartland 3-0 Gombe United

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Enugu Rangers 3-0 Bayelsa United

Abia Warriors 0-1 Enyimba

Plateau United 0-0 Niger Tornadoes

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Nigerian Football

Finidi deserves our support, says former international, Kingsley Onye

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NFF Confirms Finidi George

Ahead of the first press parley that Super Eagles’ new manager, Finidi George is going to have on Thursday in Lagos, former Nigeria international, Kingsley Onye has canvassed for full support for the new coach.

 To him, the time of politicking and pushing for a particular candidate was over. “It is time for all of us to back the chosen one, Finidi George”, remarked Onye who was a left rearguard player in the 1985 class of Flying Eagles who against all odds, upstaged hosts,Soviet Union to clinch the third place in the then World Youth Championships that is now called the U-20 World Cup.

  “Although I canvassed for Emmanuel Amuneke’s candidature, am still happy that an equally good Finidi George got the job”, he said in a phone conversation from his base in the United Kingdom.

  “The fact that some players complained after Nigeria’s second friendly match in March shows that Finidi is a man of his class and cannot be influenced by players’ sentiments.

  “I believe he will take Nigeria to an enviable height, the same way Amuneke too would have done.”

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 Continuing, Onye who played for Enugu Rangers while he was in the country in the 1980s also remarked that he was on the same page with Victor Ikpeba who has asked that Finidi’s assistants should always back him in team selection  and tactical formations.

 “We should be more than 100 per cent behind the coach. If we do, he will perform wonders. He has his own philosophy which we must allow to flourish. He did it will Enyimba, leading the club to success last season and was at the brink of repeating the success before his appointment as Super Eagles’ coach.”

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Nigerian Football

Nigeria’s broadcast icon, Danladi Bako hails NFF on choice of Finidi George

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Nigerian broadcasting icon, Dr. Nasir Danladi Bako has praised the Nigeria Football Federation for settling for former international and ex-Enyimba FC strategist Finidi George as Head Coach of the Super Eagles.

The Kogunan Sakwatto, 66, who created a plethora of famous TV programmes including Morning RideMastersports and Second Chance, among others, and served as Special Adviser to a number of Sports Ministers many years ago, insisted the NFF leadership struck a bull’s eye with the appointment of the two-time FIFA World Cup star, stating that George oozes class and character, and an iron determination to succeed despite his public carapace of a quiet person.

“Finidi George has that cultured, disciplined mien and personality that makes you want to trust him with a big project. He understands the meaning of constituted authority and right from his playing days, has always displayed the attribute of a team player. He has always had that calm, collected nature even in the face of pressure or danger.

“Above all, he is not someone who thinks he is doing the nation a favour. He is grateful for the opportunity and I believe that he has all it takes to succeed. I am calling on the Federal Ministry of Sports Development, the NFF and Nigerians as a whole to support him to take the Super Eagles to brand-new heights.”

Bako, who holds a doctorate degree in development communication from the Ahmadu Bello University and was Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission between 1999 and 2002, says all hands must now be on deck to ensure victories in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin Republic on 7 June and 11 June respectively.

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“No doubt, the NFF got this one appointment right. Very much on point. Now, they should endeavour to give George all the support he needs to succeed in his task of qualifying Nigeria for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.”

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