The Confederation of African Football – CAF have snubbed Nigerian Referees on its match officials list for the 2023 AFCON to be hosted by Cote D’Ivoire.
This announcement will certainly generate conversations within the Nigerian football community and has witnessed in the early hours, bulk of the blame pushed to the Referees – let the Referees breathe.
Caretaker is not in this school of thought and so believes in his own right that Nigeria has very good Referees who deserve to be on that list if certain elements as will be considered in this article is fixed.
To the big question, Who is responsible for the 2023 AFCON snub suffered by Nigerian Referees ?
– THE FOOTBALL ADMINISTRATORS
They are in different categories and include officers of the Nigeria Football Federation, Football Referees Association, Various League board officers etc.
This class of individuals are charged with the responsibility of making policies and superintending over Football activities in the country.
That Nigerian Referees have not been deemed good enough to participate at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations tournament is first a sign that something is not done well from the top.
Maybe the right Referees are not selected for FIFA listing, Caretaker understands that in grading of Referees, FIFA considers factors like physique, qualification and experience , etc.
At the moment, how many FIFA listed Referees fit the call and what amount of support have they received from the football administrators ?
The welfare of Referees in the country is poor and frustrates any self development plans – a key element in selection for International engagements.
A PHYSICAL REGIME THAT CHEATS THE COUNTRY OF EXPERIENCED REFEREES
For a vocation that is practiced in part-time in Nigeria, the physical fitness regime which drops premier league referees after a failed fitness test attempt has cheated the country of experience.
It is important for the Federation to allow two to three season attempts before dropping match officials from the elite division for fitness test reasons.
This system has led to Nigeria losing very good and experienced Referees.
THE NEGATIVE PRESS
Lastly, Nigerian Referees suffer a lot from the consequences of negative press which crucifies the wrong and fails to celebrate the good performances.
What the International community reads about Nigerian Referees is only the negatives, without holding brief for anyone – it is not all bad.
This perhaps is the biggest challenge, one that can be solved through deliberate media engagements. Yes this happens in other countries of the world.
Media outlets should be in the employ of the football federation with strategic communication of games managed by international Referees to put them in excellent public view.
The faults are not limited to this three but in Caretaker’s opinion, if solution is sought in this regard, Nigerian Referees will enjoy consistent international engagements – but first someone at the top must press the right buttons to develop them and not wait for moments like this to criticize.
Let the Referees breathe – don’t suffocate them.