On
Wednesday, May 29, 2013, Sharks FC emerged winners of the Rivers State FA Cup,
courtesy of a goal scored by Thompson Stowe in the first half.

Dolphins’
goalkeeper, Sunday Rotimi had failed to take control of a back pass and Stowe
stole the ball from him and scored.
Aside
from that the FA Cup in Rivers State was enmeshed in controversy from its very
start up until the final match.
No referees for
games
Just
before the start of the competition, there was some controversy involving
referees.
From
what I gathered, the state FA wanted to appoint referees for the games but the
Rivers State Referees Society refused.
Their
argument was that it had never happened that the FA appointed referees for FA
Cup games in the state but the Society.
The
FA, led by Barrister Christopher Green but powered by its secretary, Benjamin
Ibigoni Akubo stood their grounds insisting that they would constitute a
referees appointment committee which they did, a committee made up of a couple of
retired referees as well as FA members.
The
referees swore that they would not honour any appointments not made by them and
in the end, and to call the bluff of the referees, the state FA decided to use
coaches of clubs in Port Harcourt as referees for the FA Cup games. See Pic above
FA
Secretary, Benjamin Ibigoni Akubo told naijafootball247.com that he could
defend his action anywhere in the world.
“When
we have referees who are causing trouble, what do you want us to do? What we
have done is within the confines of the law governing football in the country
and I can defend it anywhere in the world,” Akubo said.
On
his part, Rivers State FA chairman and member of the NFF executive board,
Barrister Chris Green told www.pointmancarl.wordpress.com
that the FA was right to use coaches as referees for the FA Cup games.
“The
referees here wanted to hold us to ransom and we couldn’t allow that. We
decided to rather engage the coaches after speaking to the various clubs who
didn’t object. There is nothing wrong with that I must add. There is no where
the law says we must use “licensed” referees rather it says “qualified”
referees. I could decide to engage a shoe maker who has perfect knowledge of
the game for the job. His non certification does not mean he is not qualified,”
Chris Green said.
However,
Secretary of Dolphins, Ahmed Abdulrahman told naijafootball247.com that there
was no time the clubs were informed that coaches would act as referees.
“We
knew there was an issue between the referees and the FA and I remember when we
went for our first game we protested the use of people who were not referees
but the FA people said it was within the laws of the game.
“It
is their game and when they spoke with so much surety about it, we felt if we
did not adhere they would walk over us. We also thought that the issue may be
resolved by the next game so we really had no choice but to play.”
Team
Manager of Go Round FC, Soni Uboh also confirmed that the clubs were never pre
informed by the Rivers State FA that they won’t use referees for the games.
The Go Round V
Sharks controversy
In
the 2nd semi final of the FA Cup between Sharks and Go Round FC, an
amateur Division One League side, the drama continued.
Go
Round were 2-1 up with about 15 minutes left to play when the captain of
Sharks, Odinga Odinga got up from the bench and was speaking with someone
through the perimeter fencing bringing back memories of four years ago.
In
2009 in the FA Cup semi final, Sharks had ended a game against Christ the King
Church, CKC FC goaless and the referees, as the rules stated had signaled for
penalty shootout.
The
serving sports commissioner in the state then (names withheld) allegedly instructed
social miscreants known as Area Boys to run off with the match balls.
When
that happened, the idea that visibility was poor and the penalty shoot out
could not hold came into play.
By
the next day, there were talks about a replay from the start of the game and
CKC refused to honour the game granting Sharks a walk over and qualification
for the final.
But
that was in 2009. In 2013, after the Sharks captain spoke with that “unidentified”
person through the fence, word began to spread that a similar incident would
soon occur.
Before
long, in the 84th minute of the game, a miscreant ran into the pitch
and kicked the match ball out.
There
was no single policeman present in the stadium. When fans at the stadium began
to murmur that they had seen that happen before and it was coming from Sharks
because they were losing the game, another miscreant, most likely acting on
instruction ran towards Sharks players on the pitch and punched one of them to
submission.
After
normalcy was restored Sharks said they could not continue the game because
their player was injured and they had completed all three of their changes.
Eventually
the FA Secretary, Benjamin Akubo asked the referees to call off the game which
they did.
One
day later the FA said the game would be replayed from the start because they
could not determine the fan who invaded the pitch.
As
usual, and according to script, Go Round refused to play and were walked over
by Sharks.
Team
Manager of Go Round FC, Soni Uboh in his anger suggested when he spoke with www.pointmancarl.wordpress.com
that the Rivers State FA Cup be scrapped.
“They
realized with two minutes to go that we were actually going to beat Sharks and
Go Round would have booked a passage to the final meaning qualifying for the
Federation Cup at the expense of Sharks. So what they needed to do was to stop
the game, cause confusion and see how they could get the opportunity to get a
replay. This I must say has always been the case but I dare say this time it
won’t work as we are going to pursue this to all logical conclusion” said Soni.
Uboh
goes on to point out instances where premier league sides Sharks and Dolphins
had previously been given undue advantage in the FA Cup over other teams. He
cites a celebrated case of Sharks Vs CKC FC in the last year of Kadiri Ikhana’s
reign as Sharks coach (about 4 seasons ago) where CKC bluntly refused a replay
after their game against Sharks was disrupted.
That
same year Go Round FC had a similar experience with Dolphins FC in the other
Semi final.
Uboh
says if this trend is allowed to continue it would further dampen the morale of
other clubs in the state. He thus informed of his intention to pursue the case
to the end by filing a protest to the NFF and thus discourage what he termed an
un-holy tradition.

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