The League Management Company (LMC) has stated that it is still comparing the notes of the match officials and others in connection with the Enugu Rangers and Kano Pillars fixture in the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) Championship playoffs, which was marred by crowd violence on Monday.
The LMC opined that appropriate sanctions will be meted out to all those that directly or indirectly have a connection with the fracas at the Agege Stadium, Lagos shortly after the league encounter had ended in a 1-1 draw.
The matchday four Super Six game had ended peacefully, but fans allegedly loyal to Kano Pillars invaded the pitch at the end of game and hurled different types of objects towards the match officials and others in the stands.
The disgruntled fans are believed to have been protesting over the handling of the game by referee Adebimpe Quadri.
The problemw started when Quadri awarded a late penalty kick to the Flying Antelopes for the foul on Enugu Rangers’ Ifeanyi Egwin and a handball in the 18 yards box.
Rangers’ Godwin Aguda coolly slotted the spot kick in the 90th minute to cancel out the 58th-minute free-kick from Kano Pillars’ Rabiu Ali.
At the sound of the referee’s final whistle, Ali - who had earlier contested almost all of the referee’s calls which didn’t favour his team during the game - went straight to the referee and appeared to want to assault him, but he was repelled by some of his teammates who prevented him from getting closer to the official.
It was his continuous remonstration with the referee that irked the alleged Pillars fans, and they ran to the pitch in numbers in an attempt to accost the centre referee in solidarity with Ali, who they consider a cult hero.
The fans tore the dashboards at pitch-side into shreds and hurled them, and other objects, at the match officials and others in sight at the VIP section, and wanted to break through the barricade to gain entrance into the referees’ changing room.
The crowd was then overpowered by the security after some fans were injured.
A top official of the LMC, who craves anonymity, informed Goal that the league body has begun an inquiry into the crowd violence and that the video and other evidence which could help the body in making an unbiased judgement are presently being studied, and that a pronouncement on it will be made very soon.
The official noted that Kano Pillars skipper Ali, and a few others in the club, have a case to answer for, but that they want to exhaust all the evidence before them before a decision is made to serve as a deterrent in future matches.
“We are going through the match report of all those that were involved in Monday’s game from the match commissioner to the referees and we are comparing that with the video footage available to us,” the official told Goal.
“We are not going to punish those that do not have any link with the incident but we are going to ensure that all those culpable are brought to book and made to serve as an example to others that might want to nurture such desire in future games. We preach non-violent football but what we witnessed on Monday was very barbaric and taking us back to where we do not want to recall again.
“There won’t be any further delay in making any pronouncement. We want to ensure that those culpable are the ones that will be punished. This has given us a bad impression in the outside world and we must do something to correct it immediately.”