Albert Akota with agency report
Football fans in Nigeria have called on African countries to boycott subsequent World Cup competitions in resentment to the manner its representatives exited the ‘Russia 2018’ edition.
Football fans across the continent were utterly displeased with the officiating against Africa’s representatives, especially Tunisia, Nigeria and Senegal which ensured their elimination.
“Tunisia had a clear penalty call against Belgium, Nigeria had such against Argentina with the most bizarre, being that of Senegal against Colombia after the referee had initially pointed to the spot,’’ the fans who spoke with NAN said.
Julius Nlemadim, a defunct JIB Rocks of Jos player, alleged a high level of conspiracy among FIFA officials to ensure that African countries never excelled at the World Cup.
“The referee that officiated Nigeria’s match against Argentina denied the Super Eagles a clear penalty but several European teams earned penalty kicks in such circumstances at the competition.
“The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) has been used against unfavoured countries such as the Africans because a referee cannot signal for a penalty for Senegal against Colombia only to reverse the decision after consulting the VAR,” he said.
Supporting this assertion, John Nwude, River Lane FC of Enugu player, noted that if such occurrences were not adequately addressed, Africa would never reach the semi-finals of the World Cup.
“FIFA big wigs are always jittery when African teams progress considerably at the World Cup and they decided not to allow them go beyond the first round in Russia 2018.
“I was sceptical when I read an acronym for (FIFA): Football Is not For Africa, but believed strongly in it after the bizarre officiating against Nigeria and Senegal,” he said.
Pius Nwankwo, Proprietor of Pino Sports International Soccer Academy Abakaliki, said that Africa had its own share of blame in the officiating debacle.
“It is true that African teams recorded several biased officiating at this World Cup but the question is: what were its officials in CAF and FIFA doing?
“Instead of uniting to fight a common cause for Africa in international competitions, they only feed fat on estacodes and thrive on the Anglo and Franco-phone dichotomy,” he said.
Ebere Njelita, a soccer historian, said that the solution rested on reactions of African bigwigs in CAF and FIFA.
“Cameroon failed to reach the semi-finals of ‘Italia ’90 when the referee awarded two late, dubious penalties to England, Nigeria suffered the same fate against Italy at ‘USA 94’ and among others, yet our officials keep mute.
“The major challenge before the new CAF executive therefore, is to close ranks and take drastic decisions on such matters with a boycott, a possible option,” he said.
A teacher, Mrs Rita Oge-Ali, however, said that the problem of African teams at the World Cup went beyond biased officiating.
“Africa should evolve a viable system of football and others sports development which would prepare its teams adequately to surmount officiating and related antics.
“There is a level of performance on the pitch that cannot not be derailed by poor officiting; how can one explain that Nigeria, for instance, tookik a team of rookies to the World Cup and expect to excel,” she said.