The Deputy Governor of Edo State, Rt Hon Comrade Phillip Shaibu, has strongly condemned the quality of officiating in the on-going Nigerian Premier League.
His comments came after he watched a recent derby between Warri Wolves and their Edo counterparts, Bendel insurance FC at the Warri Township stadium where he was guest of honor. The match ended 3 -2 in favour of the home side.
The match which was characterized by questionable decisions by the center referee, Isaac Ogaba and assault and intimidation of Insurance players drew the ire of the Deputy Governor at a post-match press briefing.
“Gentlemen, as you can see, this match has brought to the fore, the ugly side of Nigerian football. The referee officiated below standard and actively assisted Warri Wolves to win at all costs,” he lamented.
“I think the Nigeria Football Federation and the Referees’ Association should take appropriate disciplinary measures against erring referees so that sanity can return to the sport. This syndrome of I-must-win-at-home by Nigerian teams can be checkmated by considering neutral venues for home matches. Football is not war, and as far as this match is concerned, my state government will pay our team the full winning bonus, because irrespective of the result, we played better and actually won the match. In the past, which I call the golden age of Nigerian football, teams playing at home and away are guaranteed fair and unbiased officiating by match officials and also devoid of intimidation and assault by supporters of the home crowd.”
One of the decisions by the referee the Deputy Governor complained about was to allow play to go on for extra twelve minutes after regulation time which gave Warri Wolves undue advantageto score the winning goal.