September, 27 2023.
Match-day secret assessment of Referees is to make a return, as the 2023/24 Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) season, kicks-off this weekend with a full programe of Day-1 fixtures, to be decided at venues across the country.
The Chief Operating Officer of the NPFL, Mr. Davidson Owumi announced the return of the scheme, which was in the cooler last season, as the league body and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) were weighed down heavily by an accumulated debt of half a billion Naira, owed match officials, in the three preceding seasons.
Secret Assessors are representatives of the league body, sent undercover to designated or potentially explosive match venues, for an adequate check on the performance of appointed match officials.
Mr. Owumi added that the NPFL management reached the decision to being back the assessors, as part of the league body's policy, geared towards improving officiating, and protecting the sporting integrity of matches in the nation's top division.
According to him, "the league’s Secret Assessors are to play the dual role of providing useful intelligence on the conduct of Match Officials, especially on the pitch, and carrying out survigilance on any sort of intimidation of Match Officials at any time in the course of their duty".
Owumi further said the NPFL's appraisal of last season, revealed that Match Officials were often harassed, and in a few instances physically attacked in their changing rooms, at halftime.
He however warned that the NPFL will come down hard on clubs that would throw caution to the wind, and breach the extant rules of the competition, regarding safety of Match Officials.
Mr. Owumi also said it is now mandatory for Head Coaches sitting on the benches of their teams, in the league to possess at least, the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) "B" License.
Owumi said the requirement is part of the league body's bid to improve the quality of technical performance of the clubs, and the measure is expected to compel Coaches to upgrade their badges, by undertaking the requisite refresher trainings; that will inturn help in improving the knowledge and technics they offer to players.
The Chief Operating officer of the NPFL described coaching, as one of the problem areas that the league must find solutions to, if the NPFL to successfully grow the game and produce highly technical players for the league, and the national teams.
The season is scheduled to kick off on Saturday, September 30 at eight centers with the fixtures in Port Harcourt and Aba, postponed due to the continental engagements of Rivers United on Sunday, and Bendel Insurance who takes on 2021 winners RS Berkane of Morocco, tomorrow at 9pm Nigerian time.
River United are home to Burkinabe side, Etoile Filante du Ougadougou in the second leg of their second preliminary round, of the CAF Confederation Cup; www.ckdmedia.ng reports.