In the last 7 working days, I have had the luxury of joining a colleague to and fro work, reducing my transport expenses by over 75% irrespective of the biting PMS scarcity in the country. Few hours ago, I rode with this colleague and we dabbled in and out of various discussion and found ourselves taking about the Nigerian League. When I told him I do go to the stadium to watch the games, his first response was this:
No let them break bottle for your head oh!!!
Don’t let Ifeanyi Ubah slap you oh!!
I laughed at his comment but deep down i was saddened by the comment which was as a result of recent happenings in the League. Few days ago, unruly behaviours were reported in Akure and Nnewi. Shooting Stars had their chairman beaten black and blue in the Akure Stadium as his team lost 2-1 to host Sunshine Stars. He was not watching from the popular stands but in the VIP box. In Nnewi, Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah slapped Heartland FC Goalie Ebere Obi after he assaulted the referee. Ebere Obi and some Heartland players also got the beatings of their life from the body guards of Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, the sole proprietor of FC IfeanyiUbah.
Football is such a passionate sports. It could have you grinning from east to west or fuming like a volcano on the Ring of Fire. When it goes well for you, you can be joyous for days with your mood high up to the heavens. When it is all wrong, your immediate reaction can be regrettable causing irreversible damage to your personality, goods and every associated image.
Last season, the League Management Company banned Akure Stadium from hosting league games for a year following the unruly behaviour of the Sunshine Stars’ fans, who stormed the pitch and attacked match officials in a Week 36 clash against Lobi Stars. The visitors were leading 1-0 before the incident happened in the 77th minute. The match was later completed in Abuja with Prince Aggreh scoring an 83rd minute equalizer to prevent a second home loss of the season.
Sunshine Stars is believed to have paid a fine of five million Naira and played their remaining two home games at the Teslim Balogun Stadium. Before the new season kicked off, the stadium ban was lifted by the LMC (no bite after the barks).
I’m pleased to inform you that Sunshine Stars have been cleared to play their NPFL home games at the Akure Township Stadium. This is cheering for us as it will boost our confidence level going into the new season. We have learnt our lessons and will do all it takes to prevent a repeat of the occurrence that resulted to the initial LMC action,” – Sunshine Media Officer Wahab Bankole on Goal.com in January 2016.
Two months later, you could see that there were no lessons learnt and the LMC had to fine them:
- N5,000,000 and a suspended two points deduction for hindrance of broadcast towards the end of the match.
- N500, 000 for not controlling their Supporters from harassing and assaulting a visiting club’s official
- N750,000 for failure to ensure adequate security and allowing access to unauthorized persons to all restricted areas.
- N25,000 per day fine if Sunshine is unable to produce the culprits that entered the VIP and attacked the visiting officials by Thursday April 7, 2016.
- Akure Township stadium has been placed under close watch for the next three home games of Sunshine Stars to enable the league authorities observe security arrangement and general fans’ conduct to determine whether or not further sanctions will be imposed which may include stadium ban, closure to fans or banishment of the club to a neutral venue
Maybe i expected more from the LMC with respect to the stadium ban seeing that this is there second offence in less that the ban was lifted less than 2 months ago. There should not be any close watch. If the VIPs are not safe, how can the neutrals on the popular stands or the visitors on the pitch be safer?
This brings me to the case of Nnewi and Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah. Before the video of the incident went viral on twitter, the LMC threw kids gloves at Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah and his club FC Ifeanyi Ubah – Reprimand for the chief, N500,000 for pitch encroachment with an option of an appeal within 48 hours.
And the videos came online, the true story was played and the scales fell off from the eyes and the LMC took a sterner stance with a 10 match ban and a N2,500,000 fine for Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah. Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah may have apologized, accepting the reprimand and fines in good faith, but i think the LMC should do more:
- Just as in Akure, FC IfeanyiUbah should produce the culprits that inflicted pain and injuries to the heartland players before a certain deadline or attract the N25,000 per day fine.
- What happens next if Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah repeats such? It is said that he is used to slapping people about.
- Will Ebere Obi still go to court?
The LMC has been doing well in recent years but more is expected from them and the clubs. We cannot afford to have what we have built be broken down by slaps and assaults in different match venues. We may need to start giving out consistent punishments to send a message to every member of the League.
This is the bedrock of our football; hooliganism and its brothers should have no part in the Nigeria Professional Football League.