Effiong Johnson: Nigerian referees are the cause of football violence in the country

With violence in majority of matches in the Nigeria Premier League, the Nigeria Football Federation member says referees should be held responsible.

Chairman of the security committee of the Nigeria Football Federation Effiong Johnson has taken a swipe at Nigerian referees officiating in the Nigeria Premier League and Nigeria National League by describing their attitude as “shameful” and blaming most of them for the increasing cases of football violence in the country.

Effiong’s comments came shortly after the National League match between Akwa Starlets and Gray International played at the U. J. Esuene Stadium in Calabar last week.

“It’s a big shame that referees are taking the game in the country backward. What we have seen in the last one month clearly confirms that. The officiating was very poor. Nigerians can now see the reason why violence occurs in our stadia. Our referees are no doubt the major cause.

“From what I have seen it is clear that the referees are the problem and until they change their ways, we might witness more violence in our league venues. If referees do what is right, supporters will not be pushed to commit violence."

“It is not good that most of these referees don’t adhere to what the rules say. I am pained because if they do what the rules say, nobody will hold them responsible. I know that they are human and can make mistakes, but when it becomes a constant thing, then something must be done.

“This game can be beautiful in this country when everybody plays his part well. But I want to advise the referees to do what is right in every match.

 “I’ve called the chairman of the referees’ appointment committee and urged him to charge his team to be more intelligent when appointing referees for matches. If we must end violence, we must caution our referees,” Johnson said.

The Nigeria Premier League has witnessed a spate of violence in the last four weeks and this has led to clubs getting fines with Kwara United being banished to Abuja.