REFEREES THREATEN TO DOWN TOOLS
• L-r: Mr Ikechukwu Okogbue, donor of Unity Cup and his wife presenting the trophy to Sir Remmy Irojiogu, the principal of Model Secondary School, Umualumaku in Mbano, Imo State.
Embattled Nigeria Referees Association (NRA) has disclosed that the duo of Nigerian Premier League (NPL) and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) are indebted to the association to the turn of N9.7 million as several weeks of match indemnity for the just concluded league season are yet unpaid.
The chairman of the association, Alhaji Ahmed Maude, who made the disclosure in a chat with Daily Sunsports during the physical fitness exercise organised in Abuja recently, said that while the NPL's debt was N9 million, the NFF through the National League was owing it indemnity for 14 weeks totalling about N700,000.
Dismissing the insinuations that the refereeing is now a lucrative business for his men, the NRA boss, said: 'Well, I won't agree that refereeing is now a lucrative business because even the amount we agreed with NPL as indemnity is not forthcoming.
'We are just managing because there is no title sponsor for the league in the concluded season. It is too meagre to pay N80,000 to a referee who left Port Harcourt to officiate in Maiduguri.'
Specifically lamenting the volume of debt to the referees, Maude, said: 'For last season, it was about N9 million.
'They owe us for three weeks and each week is N3 million. The NFF did not pay us for 14 weeks and if we were money-mongers, we could have been pressurising them to give us the money.
'We agreed to reduce the amount to N17,000 each official per match, yet they could not pay. They told us that their account was sealed, but I'm sure that they must pay before we start the next season. Yes, the amount may be only about N70,000, but it means a lot to an association desperately in need of money.
'Besides, it is too bad for a referee to spend money to go to match venue, only to return to his family empty-handed.
How can we expect them to give us their best when we cannot pay them the services rendered?' he queried rhetorically.