Let’s play 1 game

Being a man around town that I am, who has watched League games in Nigeria and other parts of the world, I feel I am qualified to say this.

Football is very exciting when you watch it live in stadia across the world. It does not matter whether you are watching in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Europe or the Americas; you will always enjoy the feeling being there in the stadium.

And talking about watching games live at the stadia, it may be local league games, Continental games or national team games, and it does not change the feeling.

There is also another way games can be watched and that is at public viewing centers where people, especially in Nigeria watch European League and Champions League games.

This is where I being to make my point.

In recent times there have been so much violence in football at Nigerian stadia and in viewing centers and you begin to wonder why people fight.

Some years back in the Nigerian League we saw as fans of Enyimba pounced on a referee after a match in Aba against Heartland giving him the beating of his life.

We all saw that on TV. Though the referee survived he lost 4 teeth in the attack.

We have seen knives and guns brandished in stadia across Nigeria and it is all wrong.

More than two years ago, a Nigerian Premier League match between Akwa United of Uyo and Enyimba of Aba at the Uyo township stadium was abandoned after fans invaded the pitch in protest of a decision made by the referee.

Lives were lost as a result.

But violence these days is not all about the stadium as we heard a celebrated case two years ago, to be precise, May 27, 2009 moments after FC Barcelona beat Manchester United FC in the final of the UEFA Champions League in Rome, Italy.

A bus driver in Ogbo, Rivers State believed to be a supporter of Manchester United Football Club drove his bus into a crowd of joyous Barcelona Football Club supporters killing four people and leaving several others wounded.

A graduate of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State and father of one believed to have an interest in Chelsea Football Club was killed by angry Barcelona Football Club fans at Egbeda, Lagos State after a fight over a N2, 000 (about $13) bet with a Barcelona fan, shortly after Barcelona held Chelsea to a 1-1 draw, a result that meant Chelsea were eliminated from the UEFA Champions League in 2009.

In the previous year there were reports in the media of at least one death in cities like Calabar, Port-Harcourt and Lagos either before or after the match between Manchester United FC and Chelsea FC in the final of the UEFA Champions League in May, 2008.

In Lagos three years ago, an Arsenal Football Club fan had a knife stab in his skull after an argument with another fan who had an argument with the Arsenal supporter that Bolton Football Club would beat his team.

My question now- Is all this necessary?

Should football be for fun, entertainment, bragging rights or should it be a life and death matter?

That is why I say we must begin to play 1 game.

1 game is my noble idea, alongside a friend for 5 years now, Philip Obaji where we have decided that football must be played without violence.

We want to spread this message to all nooks and crannies of the world encouraging people to play football and be happy about whatever score the game ends with.

I can go on and on with examples of violence either in our stadia or viewing centers and even show you photographs that would make you puke but I won’t because we can understand the idea of 1game without sensitive photos spoiling our lunch.

1 GAME is a non-profit initiative comprising of sports media practitioners, ex-professional footballers, football administrators and other interested individuals committed to the promotion of peace and unity in football. 1 GAME is impartial and independent of any government, political persuasion, corporation or religious creed.

Since its creation on 1 June 2010, 1 GAME has steadily grown and developed to be a well known and credible peace seeking organization, focusing on informing and educating youths involved in football followership on the dangers of fanaticism in the game.

Already we have more than 4000 members on our face book group as well as many more members registered on our web site and our target is to hit one hundred thousand by the end of the year.

Already personalities like Jonathan Akpoboririe, US based reggae musician, Shaggy, Germany international striker, Kevin Kuranyi are already part of our cause and many more are signing up with each passing day because they understand that violence in sports is not about Nigeria but it is a worldwide thing.
You can take a stand with us against violence in football by visiting www.play1game.org and sign up alongside thousands more like you or search out “1 game” on facebook and join the group there to be part of this worthy cause.

You can follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/ikwerreman and on my blog at www.naijafootball247.com.
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  1. Nice China, I have always wondered why a professional player can change club sides at will, yet their die-hard fans continue to stick to their club sides... It is easy to understand why a true Liverpool fan (who lives and works in Liverpool England) would go on supporting his home team, but for an Egbeda driver, who has not seen the insides of the International Airport in Lagos, not to speak of Liverpool, to stab in the name of love of football? For me its not about the love of the game, it is outright lawlessness. Not even a stupid English hooligan would attempt such angry feat on his own... So my brother 1 Game should consider convincing our people that they can save us some foreign exchange by loving our local teams and to end this premier madness!