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THOSE who run our domestic football amuse me a lot when they try to explain their failures, blaming it on the existing systemic crises in the industry. They have forgotten so soon that they promised to effect the desired changes during their campaigns to get elected into office, having studied the trends from afar. Indeed, they have forgotten that they have spent the last decade hovering around past administrators in different capacities. Yet, opening matches began with advertised games moved forward at short notice.

Some of the principalities hindering the growth of the game are in the Dankaro House in Abuja. In fact, some members have turned the federation into their cash cows. In other instances an ATM machine. It is, therefore, understandable why many of them pride themselves as board members, knowing they have no other credible way of identifying themselves. They are in a hurry to flash the NFF board members’ complimentary cards.

Traditionally, the successes of FIFA and CAF rest with the calibre of people listed in their sub-committees who help to superintend over the running of the facets of the two bodies. One of such committees is the referees’ committee which is critical to both bodies’ operations, hence the inclusion of serious-minded personnel, not those angling for sitting allowances. Sitting allowances are paid by either FIFA or CAF depending on which of the bodies initiated such a meeting. It is, therefore, surprising how the organ which should utilise these referees, is being asked to pay for the sitting allowances. Such demands by the members, which were taken to the ridiculous level of not releasing referees to run the game for Week 3, should attract an immediate dissolution or query by the NFF.

Wait a minute NFF? Have the sub-committees been inaugurated? If no, then who were the committee members that met? Those who met to take such a decision should be removed from the committee now for pouring odium on the game. NFF should then inaugurate other sub-committees now that the league season has begun.ADVERTISEMENT

NFF’s executive board mustn’t sweep this shameful conduct under the carpet. This condemnable act jeopardised the conduct of genuine COVID-19 tests on the players, officials, match referees, and commissioners at this time when the Coronavirus pandemic is ravaging the world and killing people in quantum. No one can tell the collateral damage this has done to the girls and those who partook in those three matches and indeed all the week 3 fixtures because COVID-19 regulations were not observed. Truth be told.

Nigeria became the laughing stock in world football last week when it was reported in the media that both female teams arrived at their venues without the match officials, who ought to have been in town the previous day to conduct the pre-match formalities in the morning of the matches. It is at such pre-match meetings that the officials read the rules and regulations binding the game. They also direct the  host federations on what they want to be done before, during, and after the matches otherwise, they would call off the game. Sadly, these sub-committee members were interested in getting their allowances paid by the federation’s women’s league board as if they were the ones who called for the meeting.


The shame in the conduct of the NFF Referees Committee not releasing the match officials’ list for the week 3 fixtures in the Nigeria Women Professional League rest with the fact that each committee is headed by an executive committee member, who should know what operates in such circumstances. Indeed, it is the executive body that picks members into the sub-committees, just as it is the federation’s responsibility to fund all meetings which oil the federation’s operations. Only the NFF secretariat can call for sub-committees’ meetings and do so by providing all the required logistics that the members need to hold successful meetings. If the provision for payment wasn’t made to settle their allowances, the chairman of the body ought to have pleaded with his members to bear with the federation. The chairman of the referees’ committee ought to have asked his members to write down their account details for payment in the future. Buoyant chairmen in the past would have paid the members their entitlements and collected the refund from the federation later. It isn’t right for the Women’s Professional League Board (WPLB) to foot such a spurious bill, except the body expressly stated so.

During the defunct Interim League Management Board (ILMB’s) tenure, its members requested the NFF to provide the list of its very competent referees who would run the league for the season which the federation obliged. The ILMB did that to stem poor officiating which had crippled the competition in the past. The ILMB then constituted a referees’ committee which was approved by the NFF to handle the critical aspect of the game. The ILMB then paid for the referees’ entitlements and ensured their contact with the clubs was reduced drastically. The essence of this noble initiative was to reduce tales of sharp practices appreciably. The defunct ILMB also paid for the referees’ transportation to the match venues and the hotels they resided.  I digress!


The bigger shame is that the board members who head these committees also function in various sub-committees in FIFA and CAF, making them privy to how things are done in these higher football platforms. Not so for some of these board members who are not prepared to sacrifice anything for the good and development of the game. Why this committee’s refusal to do their job is condemnable, there is an urgent need for the NFF hierarchy to lay the markers on the table at their next meeting to avoid a repeat of the show of shame at match venues for week 3 fixtures. With such members, one isn’t surprised that the NFF is heavily indebted since the cash in the purse won’t foot all its bills.

The painful aspect of these members’ action was that the girls were made to spend an extra day at the designated cities, meaning they went home immediately after the games stinking in their sweats. Imagine those girls who received knocks during the game having to bear the pain through the tortuous Nigerian roads and the attendant hazards (kidnappers, robbers, etc). Indeed, in the three venues where referees hurried onto the pitch straight from the motor park and airports, the games had to be played at night, with most of them ending some minutes to midnight. Imagine the punishments on the girls who would have to wake up in the early hours to head home.


Agonisingly, these people tried to justify their action by alluding to the fact that it is what operates with the men’s game. What a pity. No wonder nothing good can come out of the domestic game, with such waste pipes existing in the system. It still amazes this writer why the sub-committee members didn’t opt for the virtual meeting which wouldn’t have involved any cost to them. The NFF executive members should as a matter of urgency decree that subsequent meetings on matters concerning the game must be done virtually until the vaccine to cure the deadly Coronavirus is found.

Sports is big business especially soccer. This idea of the NFF to be enmeshed in controversies drives away potential sponsors who wouldn’t want to associate their products and services with the federation. Already, the executive committee has made promised a lot of goodies for the women who are the best team in Africa, unlike their male counterparts who couldn’t win one game in the year 2020. Mention must be made of the Aisha Falode led board which broke the ice of playing league games with a take-off date which they stuck to. Falode’s board also didn’t allow the irritation associated with the referee’s body’s tomfoolery to disrupt the Week 3 fixtures. The fact that the fixtures were completed to allow for the next week’s games to be played is a welcome development showing how the game should be run.

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