MATCH FIXING: CAF PUTS NIGERIAN REFEREES UNDER WATCH
Miffed by the disturbing report on the alleged match fixing scandal involving Premier League first runners-up, Sunshine Stars FC of Akure and Makurdi-based outfit, Lobi Stars, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has written to the Nigeria Referees Association (NRA) through the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), warning them to meticulously handle the scandal with all seriousness.
Daily Sunsports investigation revealed that the lingering scandal had rubbished all the calculated efforts by the executive board of NRA to change CAF's negative perception of Nigerian referees in handling continental and international matches.
The chairman of NRA, Alhaji Ahmed Maude, confirming the letter from the continent's football governing body, told Daily Sunsports in Abuja at the weekend that though CAF had indicated serious interest in the investigation, the letter was just to warn the men of whistle to desist from all forms of match fixing.
Asked if CAF had reacted to the investigation, Maude said: 'You know that the referee department in CAF is undergoing a phase. We have a new interim chairman, who is very much interested in Nigeria. We have been talking with him and he has said that Nigeria should take her rightful place as a giant football-playing nation in Africa. He has warned us about the match fixing.
We have tried to exonerate ourselves because I don't think there was any case of such . I'm sure he would also admit that matches are fixed without the referees. For example, if a club decides to use an attacker as a goalkeeper or vis-visa, it is not the referee's plan. But, I assure you that any of the referees caught would be severely dealt with.
'I cannot say that CAF is not directly involved in the investigation of the match fixing, but it has told us that it is watching.