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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

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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Nigerian Football

Nigeria’s sports minister, Enoh applauds NFF for ‘buying local material’

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Sports Minister Enoh (left) and NFF President Gusau (right) unveil Finidi.

Nigeria’s Minister of Sports Development, John Owan Enoh on Monday praised the leadership of Nigeria Football Federation for settling for an indigenous Head Coach for the Super Eagles, despite the plethora of foreign tacticians who applied for the job.

Enoh, who spoke at the unveiling ceremony of the Eagles’ new substantive Head Coach, Finidi George at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, charged the NFF to give the former winger all the support to succeed, while also soliciting the support of all Nigerians for the new helmsman.

“As a student of the University of Calabar in those days, I used to go to the UJ Esuene Stadium to watch Calabar Rovers, which included Finidi George. I am excited to see him seated here as the new Head Coach of the Super Eagles.”

President of NFF,  Ibrahim Musa Gusau exuded delight with the ‘new chapter’ the Federation is opening about the Nigeria game, saying the football-governing body is determined to fully support George and his assistants to lead the Super Eagles to new heights.

“When we returned from the Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire, we began the search for a new Head Coach. There was a plethora of foreign applicants, far more than the indigenous applicants. However, we undertook a thorough process that has produced an indigenous Coach and we are very happy about that. Finidi George was part of the technical crew that came close to winning the AFCON, and we have faith in him that he will lead the team to the title next time.  

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“Our objective now is to ensure the enthronement of excellence at all levels of the National Teams.”

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Nigerian Football

No more bench-warmers in the Super Eagles, says Finidi George

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New man on the managerial saddle of the Super Eagles, Finidi George has stated that  he will invite for international assignments, only players who feature regularly at their clubs either in Nigeria or in the diaspora, and promised that the Super Eagles will remain even more competitive in the years ahead.

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