The Nigeria Referees Association, NRA, has strongly condemned the renewed incessant attacks on its members at various venues of the country’s leagues and has said it may be forced to boycott matches in grounds that are unsafe for its members.
In a statement signed by Kelechi Mejuobi, the National Publicity Secretary of the NRA, the President of the NRA, Otunba Tade Azeez expressed his worries about the sad development and is afraid that a referee might be killed if strict measures are not applied.
According to Otunba Tade Azeez, “The Association notes that in the past few weeks, it has observed how teams and supporters have resorted to physical assaults on referees when results of matches are not in their favour at the home grounds”.
“The Association is worried by the sad development and is calling on football authorities to save the lives of referees at match venues adding that no match is worth the life of a referee.”
The statement went further to say, “While recalling spates of untold incidents recorded so far this season, the attacks in the past few weeks have reached frightening dimension where a referee may be killed if no strict measure is applied”.
“In view of these sad commentaries rocking Nigeria football, the leadership of the Association has considered a boycott of matches involving teams with insecure venues while urging the organisers to step up measures guiding these anomalies”.
The President of the NRA went to further to recount recent incidences, “While the dust raised by last Sunday’s brutal attack on the referees that handled the NPFL game in Katsina as well as that in Akure, is yet to rest, the referees that handled Saturday’s Nigeria National League, NNL; Taraba United vs Elkanemi in Jalingo, escaped death by whiskers due to the brazen display of hooliganism by supporters of the home team who attempted to kill the officials after the match by inflicting body injuries on them”.
Otunba Tade Azeez called on the concerned authorities to take holistic approach to curb the menace, as a consideration for boycott of unsafe grounds may be the option of the NRA for now.
Gory pictures of referees after the attacks in Jalingo speaks volumes of the barbaric treatment match officials are meted at the domestic scene.