NPFL: LMC, NFF Referees Committee chart way forward

By Ayo Olu Ibidapo

In a bid to ensure smooth operations in officiating in the Nigeria Professional Football League, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Referees Committee, on Thursday met with the League Management Company (LMC) chairman Shehu Dikko alongside LMC board members and club executives.

Led by its chairman, Ahmed Yusuf Fresh, who also is an Executive Committee member of the NFF, the committee pointed out grey areas it has noted in order to have the best handlers at different league venues in the course of the season.

According to Fresh, the referees committee has identified its importance in ensuring that the high regard the NPFL is enjoying now, is well maintained and the committee is seen as assiduous and up to the task.

"We in this committee are ready, always ready to ensure the best decisions are taken at all times. The standard of officiating has improved and we make bold to say that we are not ready to let it drop.

"The regard the league is getting across the continent is something we are proud of and we would ensure that is maintained," Fresh said.

President of the Nigeria Referees Association (NRA), Tade Azeez praised the LMC for the efforts made to take the league to the current height it has attained.

Azeez agreed that there are few issues in match officiating which however have been ironed out by the committee but it is expedient that there is a meeting with the LMC.

"The LMC has done a great job in taking the league to this height. But as referees committee, our job is very delicate and it's really a difficult one. We are all prone to mistakes, we must note that. I and members of the committee take time out to review the performances and mistakes made by our referees; we download videos of the games and we ensure we critically look at how the referees officiate, and most of the mistakes we've noted are man-made and others seem deliberate. In all, we've agreed to ensure we weed out those not meeting up to standard," Azeez said.

FIFA referee advisor, Linus Mba revealed that the referees committee is doing all it can to ensure best practices are kept. Mba also pointed out that there is an effort to guarantee that the best officiating is recorded during league matches. He also mentioned that there are more younger referees, who are literate and are well in tune with the modern laws of the game.

Chairman of the LMC, Shehu Dikko, while responding to the issues tabled, disclosed that it is important to note everyone involved in the league is working for the progress and smooth running of the league, and it is expected that there would be errors - human or deliberate, hence the need for it to be dealt with and properly handled.

"We are all making efforts to have a brilliant league and in my mind, I understand we are working for one ultimate goal and that is making the league more viable and transparent; this, I believe should be our main objective," Dikko remarked.

Dikko used the occasion to inform the committee that part of the reforms and innovation for the ongoing season, match officials have been included in the insurance package on matchdays.

"Henceforth, on matchdays, about 80 persons are going to be insured by the new insurance company we are partnering with," added Dikko.

The LMC chairman also revealed that the new uniforms procured by the LMC for the referees are available.

Each referee will be kitted out in four sets of the uniform. This new innovation which was unveiled by the LMC at the Charity Cup which heralded the new season, will ensure match officials are well kitted for matches.

Dikko in addition disclosed that the LMC is also making efforts to procure more referees communicating gadgets to ensure better officiating by the referees and will hopefully take delivery of the equipment soon.

In attendance for the meeting were LMC chairman Shehu Dikko, COO Salihu Abubakar, LMC board directors and club representatives Emeka Inyama (Abia Warriors), Mike Idoko (Lobi Stars), Hon. Isa Matori (Wikki Tourists) and Daniel Olukoya (MFM FC) and Alloy Chukwuemeka (ABS FC, club representative).

Referees committee had in attendance chairman, Ahmed Yusuf Fresh, vice chairman Rabiu Inuwa Sharrif, NRA president Tade Azeez, while other members present include Linus Mba, Elder Olokoh, Dave Egwu, Sir E.C. Chukwuemeka, former NRA President Suleiman Maude and Secretary Sani Zubairu.

In a related development, the board of the LMC met to discuss recent progress made in the running of the NPFL.

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