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AFCON: Fans frown at CAF's shabby treatment of Nigerian referees

12 January 2013, 19:48

Lagos - Football fans have expressed their disappointment over the non-inclusion of a Nigerian cenrte referee in the forthcoming 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament in South Africa, describing it as ridiculous.

Some of the fans who spoke with the New Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Lagos said that the trend was an indication of the poor perception of Nigerian football by other African countries.

According to them, it was time stakeholders looked inwards to try and revamp the country’s image in the international refereeing circuit. Tunde Adeosun, a student, said that Nigerian referees have been sidelined for too long by the African Football Confederation (CAF) in the selection of referees for continental competitions. "The quality of football in Nigeria is far ahead of the standard in many African countries where CAF selected AFCON officials from.

"One then begins to wonder why they always relegate Nigerian referees to the background. "If countries like Mali, Gambia, Madagascar and Mauritius can boast of their continuous presence in CAF-organised competitions, why is the story different with Nigerian referees?", he noted.

Nnamdi Uzoh, a teacher, described the development as a wake-up call for football authorities in the country to carry out an assessment of their strategies. "It is high time we had a comprehensive understanding of the criteria for referee selections in CAF,’’ he said.

Princewill Ughali, an accountant, told NAN that Nigerian referees have come of age; that it was indeed a mark of disrespect to ignore them in CAF-organised events. "The quality of disciplined players coming from our league shows how much control that our referees have been able to establish on our players. We have been privileged to watch some of our league matches on television and one can appreciate the quality of officiating of our referees,’’ he said.

Kelvin Okpanachi, a trader, said that the Nigeria Referees Association should be able to come forward and assert itself, should they feel sidelined in any way. "If they actually know their worth and they are not doing anything about it, then it is sad.

"If they are accorded due recognition by CAF, it will certainly bring development to our local football,’’ he noted.

Femi Otoki, a lawyer, however, told NAN that CAF’s exclusion of Nigerian referees from the 2013 AFCON was obviously a biased act. "They have not been fair to our referees; we are the most populous black nation with a great football history. "I find it difficult to believe that our referees are not good enough to compete with their counterparts at the continental level. ``There is, however, an urgent need for football authorities in the country to take steps to remedy the situation, both here at home and at the continental level,’’ he added.

18 referees and 21 assistant referees drawn from 25 African countries were selected by CAF to officiate in the biennial continental tournament. While Algeria, Senegal, Tunisia and Cameroon have three match officials each, Nigeria only has Edibe Eglum, an assistant referee, at the championship. The tournament is billed to hold in four cities in South Africa between Jan. 19 and Feb. 10.



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