|Referee Funsho Ajayi in Federation Cup game between Enyimba and Rivers United in 2016|
The leadership of the Nigeria Referees Association, NRA have expressed satisfaction over the performance of match officials in opening day games of the league, especially in Kano.
The game in Kano was a case study as the away side, FC Ifeanyi Ubah refused to continue following incidents in the game culminating in center referee, Folusho Ajayi's decision to stop play to end the first half just as a free kick was about to be taken.
According to a communique signed by the President of the NRA, Tade Azeez, “The Referees deserve a pass mark judging from a careful review of their actions, decisions and conduct in the course of the game with particular reference to the match in Kano; Kano Pillars vs Ifeanyi Uba. This position is based on Match Reports, Assessors Reports and other evidences.”
The communique continued that “The NRA considers it necessary to state that the action of the referee ( Kano Pillars vs Ifeanyi Uba) with regards to Duration/ Time of each half is within the ambit of the Laws of the Game as LAW 7 – THE DURATION OF THE GAME states that "The match lasts two equal periods of 45 minutes, unless otherwise mutually agreed between the referee and the two teams,” adding that "The allowance for time lost is at the discretion of the referee."
Azeez said it is pertinent to note that the Laws of Game does not allow for extension of time for play after normal time of play allowed therein has expired, except for Penalty Kick, in which the duration of either half is extended until the penalty kick is completed and outcome known.
He went short of accusing club officials and maybe sections of the media of ignorance as regards the laws of the game that has undergone a few changes in recent times.
“The Kano incident has opened another chapter in the domestic game which somehow suggests that some clubs or players may not be properly in tune or acquainted with trending modern day football laws and rules especially now the Laws of the Game have undergone a major amendment since June 2016 with its implementation in 2017 football session in Nigeria.
“Apart from asking relevant authorities in Nigeria to seek a means of enlightening Clubs, officials and players on the Laws of Game, the NRA has well grounded and knowledgeable FIFA and CAF trained Referees Instructors who can be despatched to tutor clubs on laws guiding the round leather game. The NRA urges clubs and players to avail themselves this opportunity for better understanding in future engagements,” Azeez said.
The Nigeria Referees Association continued that they are assuring the Nigeria Football Federation, League Management Company and other stakeholders of their continued partnership and support as well as free, fair and firm officiating in the on going football season.
Already, the League Management Company have asked that Folusho Ajayi be withdrawn pending an assessment of her performance.