Former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Football Federation, Bolaji Ojo-Oba, has lamented the state of the country’s football, alleging that club administrators and coaches bribe referees to win domestic league matches.
Ojo-Oba stated this in Lagos at a seminar to herald the 2016 South-West States Pre-season Tournament.
He said, “All of us are problems of Nigerian football. Teams want to win, the managers know that if they don’t win, they are gone, the coach knows that if he doesn’t do well he is gone too. So, club managers and coaches conspire against the players.
“That is why most clubs can’t pay the wages of their players but they have money to service the referees. Some of the club managers and coaches also conspire against referees. It’s happening in all the clubs. I’m from Ibadan but I don’t watch games there because they say I don’t allow them carry out their plans.
“They wanted Wikki (Tourists) to win the league. And they said Enugu Rangers will not win at Nasarawa United. Rangers scored a goal and it was disallowed. The assistant referee was running to the centre line but the centre referee ordered him back.”
The former Oyo State sports commissioner said some clubs even influenced the FA not to assign certain referees to officiate their games in their desperation to win.
He added, “Some clubs have lists of referees, which they send to the FA not to use for their games.
“So, what is happening now (in Nigerian football) is cash and carry. And it is due to the level of poverty among referees, because most of them don’t have any other means of livelihood.
“The referee, who officiated the last Federation Cup final (between IfeanyiUbah and Nasarawa United) in Lagos, did a good job but some people were angry because they felt he was against the programmed result. Where is our football going?”
The sports administrator stated that the trend won’t end until stakeholders of the game changed their win-at-all-cost syndrome.
Ojo-Oba said, “Football is give and take. If you fraudulently anoint a team here, will you anoint the same team when they play in Morocco? If we want to be there, we need to disabuse our minds. All of us are guilty. I have names but I won’t mention names. There can only be salvation when we sit down to decide how to move our football forward.
“I saw armed police officers inside the dressing room during the Federation Cup final and I asked them what they were doing there, they said they were with Ifeanyi Ubah. Policemen inside a football dressing room? It was unbelievable. There were journalists there but there was no report about it till today. We need to stop this.”