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Who wants Fresh’s head like John the Baptist?

Alhaji Ahmed Yusuf Fresh…on football duty

To start with what does the word Referee means? It simply denotes an official who watches a game or match closely to ensure that the rules are adhered to and (in some sports) but in this contest, football, to arbitrate on matters arising from the play.

Now who’s Alhaji Ahmed Yusuf Fresh? He’s a member of Nigeria Football Federation executive committee, vice chairman Nigeria Football Federation technical and development committee and chairman referees appointment committee.

With this credential, you would agree with this writer that Mr Yusuf Fresh is just an ordinary man full of hopes, dreams, worries, fears. It would be interesting to note that this writer is really peeved with some of the reports that has been dancing in the minds of naive persons, mischief beings regarding the poor performance of referees, attributing the below par performance of the aforementioned (match officials) to Mr Fresh’s so called inability to steer the ship of the Nigeria referees appointed for matches. The committee which also as on board the NRA president, Mr Tade Azeez (retired Fifa-badged referee);

Who can give support to what ever The Jagaban of Nigeria Football Federation feels? Whatever quality of referee is available to be chosen by Fresh’s committee is ordinarily a mathematical function of what the NRA makes available to his team.

Two, the choice of referees for matches, it is a function of the chairman of the committee or a collective responsibility of the tem? Why single out the head of the committee?

Please bear in mind the this writer’s aim is to give little analysis on how the journey has been so far since Alhaji Ahmed Yusuf Fresh became NFF’s referees appointment chairman. Not only that but also point out ways in which he carries out his responsibilities as the supremo of the committee with regards to the global practices (Fifa and CAF methods) and how referees should be dealt with if they are found wanting.

Arising from the meeting of the referees committee of the Nigeria Football Federation held at the National Stadium, Abuja on Tuesday 17th May 2016. This meeting was called to review the physical fitness tests of the 2016 Fifa MA referees course but concluded days to the end of the programme.

In attendance on day one were: Alhaji Ahmed Yusuf Fresh- chairman; Tade Azeez -member, NRA boss; Sir E C chukwuemeka –member; Linus Mba – member, consultant refereeing, NFF and Fifa technical adviser refereeing and Sani Zubairu- secretary, head of refereeing department.

Nigerian referees…much is expected from them but excess demand from them will kill the game eventually

Fresh expressed joy that in spite of difficult logistics and the heavy participation, the FIFA delegation, organisers of the course in Nigeria acclaimed the referees committee as one of the best hosts in Africa in recent times.

Match Appointments: As the designation of referees for the premier league week 18 was concluded the previous night {Monday 16.05.16} the chairman directed that all pending disciplinary cases be disposed off before any other business of day. All referees involved in the match issues had already been invited and some had been seen around in Abuja

The cases were as follow:

  1. Akwa Utd vs Enyimba: The referee Jelili Ogunmuyiwa {LA} was charged for failing to award a penalty kick to the Enyimaba International after a challenge against their attacker in the Akwa United penalty box. Enyimba eventually won the match by a lone goal. After cross-examination, the committee was prepared to accept Jelili’s contention of faulty angle of vision during the incident. He apologised immediately for all other technical mistakes and promised to avoid the shortcomings in the future.

Decision: He would be excluded from match appointments from week 20 to week 24 inclusive.

  1. Lobi vs Niger Tornadoes: The referee Gabriel Adigwe {LA} Daminanakure {BN} RR. The referee appeared to have officiated this match in poor physical fitness condition as he needed, at the most pressing time, the attention of physiotherapists to be able to continue with that match. He had challenges over positioning which manifested to the point that he missed an obvious penalty offence which gave rise to almost violent strong spectators’ reaction.

Decision: The committee found him culpable and decided to exclude him from match appointment from week 20 to week 24 inclusive. Mr. Gabriel Adigwe formally apologised to the committee for his shortcomings and for his attitude members always felt bordered on arrogance.

  1. Akwa Utd vs IfeanyiUbah: Referee Sani Mohammed {KD}. He was very sluggish in his positioning and movements during the match. Some members were of the view that Sani Mohammed was ageing and as such was not mobile enough to observe clearly match incidents which required critical decisions during the match. Referee Sani Mohammed apologised for his shortcomings and promised to improve.

Decision: The committee decided that because of some refereeing deficiencies during the match Sani should be excused from match appointments from week 20 to week 24 inclusive.

  1. Plateau Utd vs MFM: Referee Sylvester Okobi {PL} and Abdulmumini Abdulrahman {PL} RR. The match ended 1-1 but the remarks by the referee which was corroborated through other sources on why he failed to play the Added Time in the second half of the game was considered by the referee committee as a serious abuse of discretionary powers- capable of destroying the improving image of refereeing in Nigeria.

Decision: In view of other technical challenges involving him in the past, and very serious implications of referee Okobi’s remarks after the Plateau United and MFM FC game, the committee decided to retire Mr. Sylvester Okobi from active refereeing with immediate effect.

These were sme of the critical decisions taken by the committee during the previous season. This is just to show how effective they are behind the scene without making so much noise to public view.

Here comes the 2016, 2017 ongoing season: Especially the match which involved Kano Pillars Vs Fc IfeanyiUbah. Of course, the most anticipated opening that the League Management Company wanted to use to promo how competitive our league is before some of its sponsors that were at the venue (Kano) was brought to disrepute as a results of FC IfeanyiUbah’s lack of sportsmanship. Going by the laws of the game which empowers the match officials in this area the centre referee to take charge of the game due to the set rules of the game.

As per Folusho Ajayi, really under the laws of the game she didn’t do anything wrong even the League Management Company attested to that.

However they were unsatisfied due to the ways in which she managed the game. The question is for the people who are not objective in their reportage, saying Alhaji Fresh should be removed as a result. Was it Alhaji Fresh that set the rules that empowers the referee to end a game at a stipulated time of any half? Except a penalty.

In the week 3 pairing between Remo Stars vs Abia Warriors where the referee awarded a penalty in favour of Remo Stars. The League Management Company (LMC) asked the NFF Referees Committee to withdraw Referee Dankano Abdullahi from future #NPFL pending full investigation into his performance.

LMC expressed dissatisfaction with referee Dankano’s performance in the #NPFL game between Remo Stars & Abia Warriors.

Ref Dankano failed to meet up #NPFL high standard by making a wrong penalty call that decided the outcome of the match.

This refereeing issues which in my opinion is being over-flogged and at some point it might turn out to be counter productive as we would put all the referees under tremendous pressure which might lead to more mistakes and or security breaches as the fans might target some referees and make handling of matches difficult.

  • The referees are human just like us and subject to making errors as we can see happening even at World Cup level where only the best of the best of referees are chosen to be part of. So we just have to understand and appreciate this fact in dealing and analysing referees issues.
  • However, by training and ethics of work referees are expected to be perfect and or near perfect in their actions and decision and that is why they are constantly undergoing training and monitoring to ensure they are always on top shape to deliver near perfect officiating.
  • But it’s the admittance that they are human and prone to errors that led to the debate of video replays, additional match officials, communication gadgets etc so as to eliminate the human nature of the work they do as one single mistake can make or mar a match.

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