Chairman of the League Management Company (LMC), Shehu Dikko on Wednesday restated that safety and welfare of all persons at match venues counts high and this includes that of Match Officials which he said is of paramount importance to the league body.
Dikko was clarifying the misconception contained in a letter to him by the President of the Nigeria Referees Association (NRA), Tade Azeez which suggested that the LMC neglected to order compensation for the Match Officials assaulted at the Sani Abacha Stadium by some misguided fans after the Match Day 18 fixture between Kano Pillars and Akwa United.
The LMC Chairman said it would be wrong to create an impression that assault on match officials has been a regular feature of the NPFL and pointed out that the incident in Kano was just the second on-field incident that affected match officials with the first being on Match Day 1 in Enugu in the match between Rangers International and Abia Warriors. In this case the LMC fined Rangers N250,000 as compensation to the Match Commissioner who was the victim in addition to any certified medical expenses that may arise.
In the Match Day 12 incidence in Nnewi, the LMC investigated the report and found that the attack on the match officials could have been a robbery as it happened on their way to the motor park a day after the match and wrote to warn FC IfeanyiUbah that Referees must be protected until they depart the city. The Match officials’ reports also supported this finding.
Dikko further corrected the erroneous impression that the compensation for the Match Officials assaulted in Kano on Sundaywere not covered by the sanctions announced on Tuesday.
“This was indeed the second charge in the Summary Jurisdiction notice issued Kano Pillars and which read, “You are in breach of Rule C1 of the Framework and Rules of the Nigeria Professional League Football League, in that on Sunday, 9th April, 2017, immediately after your Match Day 18 Fixture: Kano Pillars FC vs. Akwa United FC, some of your stewards and supporters assaulted match officials (including the Referee, the First Assistant Referee, the Second Assistant Referee and the Fourth Official), thereby failing to comply with the principles of fair play and sportsmanship.
“We went ahead to fine Kano Pillars N1m for this breach and impose the payment of compensation of N250, 000 for each of the four match officials in addition to any verified medical cost that the injured officials may bring. This was contained in paragraph B of the Summary Jurisdiction notice issued to Kano Pillars”, Dikko further stated.
The LMC said it considers match officials and the NRA as partners in the organisation of the league and advised that all channels of communication existing between the two bodies should always be used, harping on the need to avoid public statements that tend to portray the league negatively.
“Our public statement on the recent sanctions started with assurances to Fans, Referees, Players, Coaches and Journalists that safety at match venues would continue to be attended to at all times and this explains why we have taken deliberate steps to attend to the general and individual professional pursuits of our Referees through financial and material support”
This season, the LMC has included match officials in a comprehensive combined welfare e Insurance package for Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) which before now covered only Club Officials, Coaches, Players and backroom staff. Indeed, the compensation package negotiated for the Referees is higher than all parties as they are at more risk given their very critical role in matches. It is noteworthy that the LMC is at present processing claims for a Referee who sustained injuries from an accident on his way home from an NPFL match.
Buttressing further how the LMC has been supportive of the individual and general good of the Referees, Dikko said “it is pursuant to enhancing the professional performance of the Referees that the LMC has been providing support funding for the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Referees Committee which collaborates with the NRA in organizing fitness tests and training programs to ensure our referees are well trained and attained optimal level.
“In this ongoing 2016/17 season, it is also on record that the LMC has provided over 100 elite Referees with cooler set of three match uniforms free of charge as further motivation to do well and reduce the financial burden on Referees in respect of procurement of uniforms”, Dikko noted.
He insisted that contrary to the claims by the NRA President, “all claims arising from previous assaults on match officials were remitted directly to the concerned persons directly by the LMC which in turn deducts the amount from clubs’ earnings from sponsorship funds. The only outstanding claim is that of Referee Ago who in respect of his damaged FIFA wrist watch and for which he made an initial claim in dollars but has now agreed to be compensated in Naira”.
Finally, Dikko assured the NRA President that the LMC will not relent in providing the right environment and atmosphere at match venues on match days to ensure that Referees discharged their responsibility without hindrance. To this end, additional security measures would be instituted at all match venues to ensure the right atmosphere at all matches.