There is a dangerous trend in Nigerian league football competition that must be addressed. The current relapse into fans violence and hooliganism is a sign of worry for all lovers of football.
The recent sanctions on countries whose fans erred in the on-going Euro 2016 in France is a pointer to one fact that football governing bodies around the world are taking seriously matter of crowd trouble or violence of any sort that can bring the game into disrepute. Countries like Russia and Croatia have been fined or charged for incidents in this regard.
Recently in a league match involving Nigeria Premier League sides MFM FC and Shooting Stars, the home fans breached security and held match officials hostage after the conclusion of the match which ended in favour of the latter team (Shooting stars) in Match day 23 fixture.
Having investigated, the position of the League Management Company on the issue is that MFM FC of Lagos has will pay fine N2m and the team has been ordered to play three games behind closed doors following the incidence at Agege Stadium in Lagos.
The statement released by the league body further stated that the Club was also ordered to identify and report the supporters who committed the act to relevant security agencies for prosecution within 7 days failure of which it stands to be fined N25, 000 for each day until the culprits are apprehended and charged to court.
To also balance the sides, the centre referee Alaba Abiodun has also been suspended from officiating until investigations are over.
Crowd trouble can occur anywhere and at any time for different reasons. You will agree that the reason is best known to perpetrators as it is often difficult to fathom the need when they are fully aware of sanctions their clubs may face if found guilty. Opposing teams are sometimes attacked, Referees have been beaten for what they term unfair or bias officiating, when fans are unhappy with own team or management, and for many other reason we find these ugly incidents in the beautiful game of football.
Previously, Giwa FC, Nassarawa, Heartland and Abia Warriors are some of the clubs that have been caught in the web. In this light, bringing an end to the menace, the LMC has further charged all clubs on the need to improve and provide adequate security during games and also enforce the restriction of access by unauthorised persons to restricted areas.
Beyond monetary fines, requesting that clubs pinpoint perpetrators which might be a bit difficult to achieve in this clime and playing behind closed doors, more stringent measures such as forfeiting of points may also help in this fight against unruly and unacceptable spectators’ behaviours.
Fans must also understand that their act will do more harm than good as it is a case of taking laws into your own hands which will surely not be rolled under the carpet.