Assault on Referees in NPFL: Time for NRA to take legal action 

The era of " faceless / coupon fans" at match venues assaulting match officials must end now if we truly want our league to attract investors and serious business that will contribute to the growth and development of the NPFL

Assault on Referees in NPFL: Time for NRA to take legal action 
The ugly scene that follows the final whistle by the centre Referee at the Teslim Balogun Stadium Lagos when Rangers held MFM FC to a 1-1 draw on NPFL'smatchday 26

By Olusola Adebayo  

Assaults on Referees in the Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL is becoming a cancerous trend that must be nipped in the bud as quickly as possible. 

To get this done, the Nigeria Referee Association, NRA must be ready to protect its members through the use of criminal prosecution of anyone caught in the act of defacing the match official through physical assault. 

This season (like previous seasons)  we ve saw disturbing videos and pictures of Referees being beaten by either the mob, team officials or some miscreants. 

Despite the punitive measures put in place by the League Management Company, LMC,  it keeps repeating itself like a recurring decimal, denting the little image of the league.

The latest in the series is the ugly incident in Lagos, on Sunday, 1 May 2022 at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in the game between MFM FC of Lagos and Rangers International of Enugu. 

A man attacked the centre referee who officiated the match after the sound of the final whistle. 

He was captured on tape assaulting the referee by using his full fist on the referee's face in an attempt to cause permanent injury to the man. 

The security men at the stadium, failed to make any attempt to arrest the rampaging 'bull' rather he was being persuaded not to beat the referee. 

He was pushing and throwing fists at the men of the Nigerian police present at the scene, who are trying to stop the rampaging unguided miscreant. 

Our investigation reveals that the man Is not faceless. He is of the one "untouchable " miscreants at the stadium who could do anything untoward and will go scot-free.  

The video has gone viral, the NRA should proceed to get this man arrested for prosecution. 

The referee association should liaise with the Lagos State Football Association as the State FA has vowed to bring the hoodlum to book and dish him appropriate sanctions including prosecution. 

The League Management Company, should go beyond punishing clubs with fines, banishment and suspended points reduction and push for the arrest of anyone involved in assaulting/threatening match officials.

The era of " faceless / coupon fans" at match venues assaulting match officials must end now if we truly want our league to attract investors and serious business that will contribute to the growth and development of the NPFL. 

This development and growth should start with maximum protection of match officials on and off the pitch. 

All hands must be on deck, as clubs, the State FAs, the LMC, the NFF and ultimately, the NRA must be ready to go to any length to stop the assaults on her members which must  include legal action.