Lagos - Football fans have expressed mixed reactions to the sacking of Egyptian referee, Ghead Grisha, who officiated in the Nigeria match against Zambia at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in South Africa.
The Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) sacked the referee on Sunday following the award of a penalty kick to Zambia for a foul the Eagles committed outside the 18-yard box during the match on Friday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Super Eagles played a 1-1 draw with the Chipolopolo of Zambia following the penalty awarded to Zambia.
Emmanuel Emenike had put the Eagles ahead in the 57th minute of the second half, before the referee awarded Zambia a penalty in the 85th minute.
Some fans of the Super Eagles told NAN that they were glad over the referee’s sack, while others regarded it as harsh, saying that he could have been given a two-match ban.
Dr Hammed Odeyemi, a football instructor at the National Institute of Sports (NISports), Lagos welcomed the development, saying the decision would serve as a deterrent to referees who are partial judges.
"With this development, referees in Africa will check their excesses and measure up to the international standards. Of course, the sack is a wakeup call to referees to be cautious in their decisions.
"It will also give a good image to African football in the world," he said.
Odeyemi urged African referees to go for more courses and be careful in their judgments on the pitch, to re-position African football and in international soccer competitions.
A lawyer, Adewale Akande, said that the referee deserved the punishment, adding that there was no excuse for ignorance in law.
"The sacking is very orderly as there is no room for ignorance in the court of law," he said.
Akande, however, urged the Super Eagles to put up a more fighting spirit in their encounter against Ethiopia on Tuesday, to go far in the tournament.
He added that Nigerians were expecting more than their output so far in the tournament.
Temitope Akinrinmisi, a banker, said that the referee’s decision was wrong and he had to pay for it because it cost most Nigerians their happiness on a match they were expecting to win.
"The match portrays poor officiating that characterised most African leagues. I think the development is an indication that there are changes in African football," he said.
Akinrinmisi, however, said that the CAF’s decision to sack the referee could have been re-considered as no one was above mistake.
"Nobody is above mistake, I feel that the body should have softened their stance on the referee by just sanctioning him for some matches, for others to learn," he said.
Ndaks Lawrence, the Football Head Coach at NISports, said the decision by CAF was not a harsh call and should serve as a warning to others.
"The match officiating was poor. The referee took a wrong decision and the consequence of such is the punishment by the officials.
"This should serve as warning to others to take a cue from and learn from their mistakes," he said.
But Mfon Uduak, a trader, said the sack was rather a harsh decision and that the referee should not have taken all the blame alone.
"I think the decision made by CAF was not the best because the assistant referees were also part the officiating and should also share in the blame.
"We have seen worse officiating in this competition and to think that ours is different is just irrelevant.
"There was a scenario where I watched a goalkeeper who caught the ball from a back pass with his hands and was given just a yellow card.
"The rules say that if such occurred, the goalkeeper should be sent off the pitch but that was not the case," he said.
NAN reports that Nigeria, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and defending champions, Zambia, have played their second Group C matches in the tournament with Burkina Faso leading with four points.
Nigeria will meet Ethiopia on Tuesday in the final group match at 6 p.m. Nigerian time, while Burkina Faso take on Zambia at the same time.