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
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.
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.
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