The Nigeria Referees Association, NRA has pleaded with clubs, state FAs and league organisers to provide adequate security for match officials at match venues.
This was contained in a release signed by National Publicity Secretary of Nigeria Referees Association, Kelechi Mejuobi.
NRA president, Mr Tade Azeez said the call has become imperative in view of the persistent attack referees undergo in the hands of club supporters.
Tade while condemning the recent attack on referees by fans in Gombe where the head of one of the match officials, was broken with stones thrown at them after the Gombe vs Lobi ended in a draw, and the sad incident in Benin where a club Chairman of a female team attacked a woman referee in her hotel after match, disclosed that such barbaric act impedes the progress being made to improve Officiating in the domestic scene.
“It has become necessary to call the attention of league organisers especially those of the NPFL, NNL and NNWL, to ensure referees are protected at match venues. In view of the quest for credible Officiating especially now that the Nigeria Premier League, National League, Women League and Natiowide league enter crucial stages, the NRA requests for protection of its members” Tade said.
The president noted that with insecurity at stadium and weekly reports of referees experiencing beatings in the hands of supporters when home teams draw or lose matches, it will be difficult to attain expected perfection in Officiating.
Tade therefore asked organisers to not only express displeasure when complaints about poor officiating arise and ask for sanctions to the erring referees but should also formulate mechanism to check the menace and ensure stiffer penalties to offending clubs when referees are attacked.
Tade further revealed that the NRA is working in tandem with the NFF Referees Committee to ensure quality Refereeing in the country football system adding that referees need protection to put in their best.
It would be recalled that after Sunday’s draw encounter in Gombe, the home team ambushed the match officials and denied them entry into the dressing room. In the process, the head of one of the Assistant Referees was broken before ambulance was brought in to ferry the injured referee to a medical facility for treatment.
In Benin, a female referee was attacked in her hotel by a Club Chairman after a women league match.