NFF upgrades referee unit to department, shops for director as FIFA wait continues

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The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is fine-tuning modalities to upgrade the Nigeria Referee Unit to a full fledge department ahead of the 2021/22 Nigeria Professional Football League season. 

Blueprint can exclusively reveal that the newly created referee department will be headed by a director which will be appointed by the federation after the NFF would have advertised for the position in any of the national dailies. 

NFF President Amaju Melvin Pinnick and other bigwigs of the federation, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, the general secretary, and executive board members, Alhaji Rabiu Inuwa Ahlan, met few weeks ago to ratify the decisions to create a functional department for the referee devoid of the usual politicking and intrigues that is the bane of the present system which had brought ridicule and opprobrium to many referees. 

The decision to create the department is coming on the heels of directive from the football governing body, FIFA that Alhaji Ahlan should step down as the chairman of the NFF referees committee. Other national association affected by the decision has effected the necessary change but the NFF is still dilly- dallying over the process despite assurances that  the new football  season  will kicks off in earnest very soon.

In  a memo dated December 16,2021 by Jerome K Damon, FIFA Refereeing Development Officer and directed to the NFF General  Secretary,  Dr Mohammed.Sanusi, FIFA explicitly stated about its regulations and  said expressly that the Referees Committee must be an integral part of the Member Association’s structure.

Part of the memo reads, “It shall be responsible for the organisation, regulation and development of refereeing. It must be under the exclusive control of the Member Association and shallunder no circumstances fall under the supervision or control of other bodies such as leagues or governments (including Parliament and any other State authorities.”

“Also, active match officials shall not be eligible to become members of any  Referees Committee. The Chairman of the Referees Committee may be a Member of the Executive Committee (provided that the regulation of the relevant association allows it) but must be a former top-level match official.”

The NFF referee unit is headed by Alhaji Sani  Zubeiru from Bauchi  state.

The decision to upgrade the unit to department will be ratified in Lagos during the Annual General  Assembly (AGA) of the federation which is scheduled for next week.

Blueprint gathered that there is already intensed lobby for a FIFA retired referee from Kaduna state to get the plum job. 

Others being considered include Bola Abidoye, Calistus Chukuwujekwu and Emmanuel Imiere.