The League Management Company did well on Tuesday when they announced sanctions against one club and two coaches, but there are issues.
Officials, not fans of Akwa United were said to have harassed Match Officials. Think about it, club officials, and we hear an assistant referee was injured in the process.
This club did not lose the game at home. They drew it. This club has been on the road this season where they drew, so what was so terrible about their result at home? Yes, they drew in Ilorin and I am pretty sure they celebrated it.
I would have been worried if the report said fans of Akwa United attacked the referee because fans are not allowed into stadia, but I am even more worried that it was not the fans but the club officials. If club officials are this bad, then you can imagine how horrible fans of the club are.
I make this postulation because it is supposed to be club officials that will calm down the fans when they want to take laws into their hands. So, who calms down the club officials?
The question when things like these come up is whether the punishment is enough. Akwa United have been told they have to pay three million naira (about $3,600) as a fine with a threat to banish them from their home ground if it happens again.
Since the league began three decades ago, this has been the punishment as laid down in the Frameworks and Rules, and one will say, maybe we use the points deduction method, while another school of thought will be to sensitize the fans, except that, this was not done by the fans.
We say the same things over and over again, but I think it is time our clubs sit and tell themselves the truth.
We are all fans of Liverpool, Chelsea, Real Madrid and other European clubs, but if the fans jump in to beat Match officials or club staff on a weekly basis, and on live TV, would we continue to diligently be fanatical about them? We need to change our attitude and it is not just Akwa United. All clubs are guilty of this. They just have to pull poor results at home and you will see their true colours.
Did Kennedy Boboye go too far?
I do not know what the different leagues want coaches to do when they feel let down by match officials, and even though I believe decorum should be shown, I agree it is not easy.
A coach feels hard done by the referee and probably believes his side should have won a game or at least drawn a game, then in the heat of the moment, a journalist asks him what he thinks about the game? Asking him to smile and be politically correct can only happen if he is taking anti-depressants or laxatives on a regular basis.
Like a pundit said on EPL TV some time ago; “if you do not want referees to speak emotionally, then post-match interviews should be done an hour or two after the game, so at least they would be over whatever aggravated them during the game.”
But the rules are the rules. Kennedy Boboye went too far in his outburst and deserved to be sanctioned, though I do not know how you can be angry nicely. You are either angry or you are not, and when in the heat of the moment, you react, you will be sanctioned and I have never thought that was fair, but it is what it is. We cannot have coaches and players running amok after games. Was Boboye supposed to just smile and blame the loss on lack of concentration, when deep down he believed he was destroyed by the referee, whether rightly or wrongly?
I ask again, “Is there a nice way to show anger?”
Or maybe, Kennedy Boboye and other NPFL coaches should borrow a leaf from Fidelis Ilechukwu.
I do not know if he was angry, but in Port Harcourt two weeks ago, he did not turn up for the post-match interview but sent his assistant.
That might just be a working solution for now; to send your assistant when in the heat of the moment to avoid sanctions, because the league will sanction you for bringing the game to disrepute. Coaches do not have the right to speak like that in public.
Jigawa Golden Stars coach needs to tender an apology
The biggest shame of them all was the coach of Jigawa Golden Stars, Gilbert Opana who was basically restrained from physically assaulting a League Management Company Match Delegate who asked him for an interview.
In the short video that made the rounds on Social Media, the Match Delegate that looked like Mohammed Suleiman was heard asking Opana, “Why did you tap my chest?” while Opana raged like an angry bull screaming out the words, “Who is LMC?” amongst other things he said.
We do not want such characters in the league anymore.
A fine of two hundred and fifty thousand naira to Opana and a two-game touchline ban is a start, but I wouldn’t have been that lenient. Thank God I am not in the League Management Company’s Disciplinary team.
Opana should have been gone for at least half the season, though it could be argued that he was a first time offender. It was bad.
Coaches cannot act that way at the stadium immediately after league games. This should never happen and I hope Opana learns from this and realises that he got off lightly.
Akwa United got served the right punishment even though my instincts tell me they will do it again. Kennedy Boboye got served the right punishment, though I will argue that people will get angry and will be emotional immediately after a game.
But on the part of Gilbert Opana, I think he got off with a slap on the wrist. His sentence should have been heavier.