The management of Rivers United FC have rejected the choice of Ijebu-Ode as venue for its 2019 AITEO Cup quarter final against Lobi Stars FC of Makurdi.
Speaking on the development, General Manager of Rivers United FC, Chief Dr. Okey Kpalukwu stated that the safety of players and officials of Rivers United FC cannot be guaranteed in Ijebu Ode.
Chief Kpalukwu added that an incident which played out in Ijebu Ode a few years ago when Rivers United camped in the city for their pre-season exercise left “serious bad blood” between the club and fans in the city.
“The incident from a few years ago left a bitter taste in the mouth, serious bad blood and two of our players were left badly injured,” Chief Dr Kpalukwu told the club’s official website.
“We cannot be guaranteed of our safety there because of those incidents and we have already officially made a complaint to the Nigeria Football Federation,” he said.
Chief Kpalukwu also added that the choice of Ijebu-Ode negates the spirit of neutrality as propounded by the organizers of the competition, the oldest in the country.
“Recall that Lobi Stars played against Abia Warriors in AKure (South Western Nigeria) in the round of 16 and Ijebu Ode is also in the same zone of the country.
“In contrast, we played in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State (Southern region of the country) in the round of 16 versus Warri Wolves.
“Asking us to play against Lobi in Ijebu-Ode in the quarter final, won’t be fair on us as we will have to embark on a much longer road trip as opposed to our opponents.
“Our sources have informed us that players and officials of Lobi Stars have since arrived in Ijebu-Ode even before the choice of the venue was officially ratified by the NFF.
“Rivers United hereby rejects the choice of Ijebu-Ode as the venue of our quarter final clash and we appeal to the NFF to select another venue in the spirit of fair play,” Chief Dr. Kpalukwu concluded.