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‘Bad Referees, Poor Players Welfare Bane Of Nigerian Football’

Bad officiating by referees in Nigeria and lack of welfare package for players have been alleged as the bane to the growth of the round leather game.

A former captain of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Football Club, Elder Charles Yoko a.k.a Dombraye dropped the hint in a chat with The Vortex Sports correspondent in Port Harcourt, Sunday.

Yoko, who played for the team from 1979-1980 as a born striker said some Nigerian referees kill the morale of teams and players due to bad and poor officiating which had resulted soccer fans not longer interested in watching the Nigerian league and other matches organized by the Nigeria Football Association (NFA in the country.

According to him, officiating in their days was good and fans were interested to watch matches as the rules and regulations of the game was applied to the later, adding that the risk to safety of teams and players had also contributed to the dwindling fortunes of football in Nigeria.

The former striker who played with players like Owakwe Eke, Cyril levi, George Ebelebe, Melvin Ukuwayo, Sunny Agu (the bulldozer), Nwakamma Owema Bank among others said he signed for NPA because of their welfare condition that in case of injury, the club will take care of him and if his football career ends, he would also be taken care of by the authorities.

He said that some clubs these days do not even encourage the players by not paying their sign-on fees, and match bonuses and allowances and called on the relevant authorities and club proprietors to do the needful to improve the game of football in Nigeria.

“Officiating these days is very poor due to the referees’ decision that the home team must win, safety and welfare of teams and players is also a problem that is militating against the growth of football in Nigeria” Yoko maintained, and said all hands must be on deck to improve the condition of the club sides and the players because in case of any knee injury, that players’ career is over.

The one-time NPA Football Club captain also opined that for football to grow, experienced and seasoned coaches should be employed, players’ welfare should be prioritized so that Nigerian league can be compared to other African and International leagues people watch on cables.

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