BY AUSTIN OTAS- OSEGBE
All over the world, the game of football has become a unifying factor that binds people of diverse culture, background, status and religious belief as one big family.
Here in Nigeria, the most populous black nation on planet earth, the round leather game is one sport that has provided a platform for all Nigerians-North, South, East and West to strengthen the bonds of national unity.
When the 2019 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPLF) season kicked-off some weeks ago, soccer fans and enthusiasts across Nigeria had looked forward to an exciting and entertaining moment of football fireworks from their favourite club sides.
However, the match day 3 fixture between Remo Stars FC of Shagamu and newly-promoted Bendel Insurance FC of Benin turned violent at the end of regulation time with one goal apiece.
The supporters of Remo Stars FC attacked the match officials on the assumption that the centre referee disallowed the second goal scored by their team.
It is gratifying to know that the League Management Team (LMC), which superintends over the affairs of professional league sides in Nigeria has taken the bulls by the horns as it has imposed some far-reaching sanctions on the Shagamu-based club.
The LMC has fined Remo Stars FC the sum of N6m, while the club has been banished to Oshogbo, Osun state for its next three home matches.
The sledge hammer of the LMC also fell on Remo FC Chairman, Hon. Kunle Soname as he was banned from taking part in the next three NPLF matches in addition to a fine of N500, 000 for his unpalatable utterances during a press interview.
Remo Stars risk forfeiture of three points should this unholy act of hooliganism occurs again in the course of the current league season. The club was directed to ensure it cooperates with security agencies in apprehending two of their supporters, Akintan Yinka and Zico who were alleged to be masterminds of the attack.
Other sanctions, aside the aforementioned, were equally imposed on Remo Stars FC even as the LMC has threatened to invoke the relevant rules against any erring club side, henceforth.
“The six count charge by the LMC ranged from access to restricted area by unauthorized persons and blocking match officials from accessing the dressing room (B13.52), encroachment onto the field of play immediately after the match (Rule B13.18), throwing of objects including stones towards the match officials when they were attacked by the club’s supporters (B8.21) and conduct of officials and supporters of the club in the disturbances capable of bringing the game to disrepute.
Mr. Soname was charged for breaches of Appendix E1.1 of the Code of Conduct for club officials and appendix E1.5
The charge read, “you are in breach of Appendix E1.1 of the Code of Conduct for Club officials (Framework and Rules of the Nigeria professional League Football League), in that on Sunday, 20th January 2019, in the course of the Match Day 3 fixture: Remo Stars vs Bendel Insurance, by your conduct and utterances, being an official of a club, you failed to set a positive example for others, particularly players and supporters”.
The Remo Stars club boss was also charged for “breach of Appendix E1.5 of the Code Conduct for club Officials (Framework and Rules of the Nigeria professional League Football League), in that on Sunday, 20th January 2019, immediately after the Match Day 3 Fixture: Remo Stars vs Bendel Insurance, you granted a press interview in which you made comments that failed to show due respect to the Match Officials”.
It is expected that with the actions taken so far by the LMC, the various professional club sides in Nigeria will learn some useful lessons and would conform to extant regulations in order not to bring the beautiful game of football into disrepute.
BY AUSTIN OTAS- OSEGBE