9 January 2013

Nigeria: 'Only One Nigerian Referee for Afcon Unfortunate'

Photo: Vanguard
Eagle’s coach, Keshi

Football analysts Tuesday described as unfortunate the inclusion of only one Nigerian referee by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to officiate in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

CAF on Monday released a list of 18 referees and 21 linesmen to officiate in the Nations Cup finals. Peter Edibe was listed among the referees' assistants by CAF and is the only Nigerian match official who would feature in the Nations Cup.

Sports journalist, Kayode Tijani, said it was unfortunate that only one referee made the list, adding that an enabling environment should be created to ensure indigenous referees give the best officiating.

"It's unfortunate, but we have to admit that the flaws from our referees are enormous and there's need for them to be better organised.

"An enabling environment must be created to ensure our referees officiate well during league matches because it is the insecurities at match venues that lead to poor officiating," he said.

Another football fan, Sunday Osunkwo also said that it was sad the only Nigerian referee listed by CAF was going to the Nations Cup as an assistant and not as a centre referee.

"Just one Nigerian referee on the sideline is sad. It tells you the extent to which our referees are lowly rated in Africa.

"The truth is that our referees are not doing well but I don't blame them because the clubs pay their indemnities, which leads to bias.

"Things have to change if we hope to see our referees in future CAF competitions. They should attend special courses and be fair and bold in officiating," Osunkwo said.

However, another football writer, Emeka Nwani, expressed disappointment in CAF, saying that Nigerian referees were good but did not understand CAF's selection criteria. "I'm disappointed because we have good referees in the country who I feel should make the list but CAF's selection process is what I don't get," he said.

In his reaction, former Chairman of Lagos Sports Writers Association, Tony Ubani, said the development was a reflection of the growth of football in Africa, noting that at some point in time, Nigerian referees dominated the Nations Cup.

"Regardless of the game's development in Africa, the performance of referees in Nigeria has also declined.

"They lack consistency because the developmental process of football in the country has also affected the performance of referees," the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) spokesman said. According to Ubani, the once called giants of Africa have been relegated to the background and it's a shame.

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