My honest intentions for this column this week was to continue with the concluding part of the ’25 differences between the FIFA Agents Regulations and Intermediaries Regulations’ which as published last week. However, recent events in Nigerian football necessitated I took a little diversion from the topic to address the most recent incident of hooliganism that happened in Nnewi after the FC Ifeanyi Ubah v Heartland FC game at the Gabros International Stadium Nnewi.
Anyways, back to today’s topic which is the disgraceful events that played out in Nnewi. I will like to take a few lessons from the events, and the results of the events. As the popular saying goes, ‘for every action, there’s a reaction’. Enjoy yourself:
LESSON NUMBER ONE: NOBODY IS ABOVE THE LAW, NOT EVEN DR. IFEANYI UBAH
To say I was disappointed by Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah’s behaviour is a great understatement. Every time I watch that video I shake my head in utter disbelief that a man of such high standing could abase himself to behave like a common street tout or hooligan.Ebele Obi had absolutely no right to raise his hand on the referee, but neither did Ifeanyi Ubah have
any right to be nowhere near the pitch talk less of going to slap the player.
I thank God the LMC reacted immediately the video came to light to punish the duo. It’s a punishment well deserved. Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah should be reminded that even though we appreciate his venturing to delve into club ownership in Nigeria when even Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote does not even care to be any team’s shirt sponsor, he is not the first and he won’t be the last.
People like MKO Abiola, EC Iwuanyanwu, Gabriel Chukwuma, Hon Lumumbah Dah Adey, Ambassador Giwa and many others sponsored clubs too and not for once did we ever hear that any of them entered into the pitch to harass or assault anybody. I must not fail however, to acknowledge his apology to all Nigerians especially those of us disappointed by his actions, and his promise never to repeat such disgraceful act again. Kudos Sir!
For Ebele Obi, he should know that his younger brother is a big brand in Nigeria and captain of our senior national team whose exemplary behaviour on and off the pitch is something all players should look up to, especially Ebele.
LESSON No. 2: SUPERSPORT IS IMPARTIAL:
Immediately word of the incident got out I wondered if Supersport would comment on the issue since they only recently had Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah as guest on Naija Made, their NPFL programme. However, when a video did eventually show up t show the full extent of the show of shame, I asked a friend where he saw the video and he said online, and on Naija Made. Kudos to everybody at Naija Made, especially baring in mind that a journalist told me that he did everything to ensure this would not escalate to the level it did (ie probably stop the video from coming to light).
Of course I told him off, cautioning him and telling him that whoever made and whoever broadcast that video should be given a very big pat on the back for his/their efforts.
Suppressing evidence to a crime in law is a crime itself. So is suppressing such evidence that will help punish people who bring our league to disrepute.
LESSON 3: SOCIAL MEDIA IS A VERITABLE CLEANSING TOOL
Yes indeed. Because initially from what I learnt, LMC initially slammed Ebele Obi with the 6 match ban but only reprimanded Ifeanyi Ubah. This goes to suggest that none of the match officials (Referees, Match Commissioner, Referee’s Assessor, Match Delegate etc) reported Dr.
Ifeanyi Ubah’s act whereas they reported Ebele Obi’s act. I leave you to imagine the reason why they chose to turn a blind eye to the Act 1 Scene 2 when it occurred in close proximity with and within 30 seconds of Act 1 Scene 1 (Ebele’s first punch abi slap on the ref). If not that God used someone far off in the spectators stands to capture the whole scene, the story would have not been the same.
Once the video was posted online, it began to trend (spread like wild fire) on social media and this prompted the LMC to reverse their first order of reprimand and then fine and ban Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah. Social Media is indeed, a veritable cleansing tool not just for our football, but for our
entire society at large.Every body is on his toes now because anybody involved in any wrong act now may be caught on camera and see himself trending online. I am waiting for the day a referee will be caught accepting bribe and I may not have to wait too long.
LESSON No 4: WELL DONE LMC BUT………..
Kudos to the League Management Company (LMC) first for sanctioning Ebele Obi for his dastardly act and then for promptly reversing their reprimand and handing down sanctions on Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah. However, in my opinion the sanctions imposed are too lenient. The actions of Ebele and Dr. Ubah deserve more punitive measures if nothing but to serve as deterrent to others and prevent a repeat. Nowhere does a player raise his hands on a match official and get such lenient punishment? Where else can a club owner stroll into the pitch, give a player a punch and watch as his personal security aides chase the player around and pummel the player and yet get only a 10 match ban? Thank God no overzealous tout or security aide inflicted more grievous body harm on Ebele but such behaviour is touting of the highest order and totally unacceptable. LMC need to be more stringent in their sanctions. I remember Eric Cantona got 9 months ban for kicking a fan. Any where else, Ebele Obi and Dr. Ubah would be staring down lengthy bans but not in Naija. LMC you are doing a great job, but better buckle up please.
Another thing LMC need to do asap is ensure the quality and integrity of men they send on such vital assignments as covering our leagues. The LMC spend so much on matches, unknown to many watchers. For each match, apart from the four referees, the LMC also cater for the match commissioner, referees’s assessor, and match delegate.
Aside the assistant referees, each of these men have to give reports of what they saw on and off the pitch. For Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah to be given a reprimand before the video came to light means that all or most of the officials on LMC duty compromised. LMC should beware of the integrity of
people they send to cover these games because all of these men are important to the development and growth of our league.
LESSON No 5: EBELE OBI CAN SUE AND BE SUED
One of the cardinal rules of association football is that football matters are not to be taken to secular courts. However, following recent incidents of referees being beaten up at match venues the LMC made it possible for
referees to sue clubs/players for damages for any hooliganistic acts against them. So, if the referee can sue Ebele Obi its only logical that the player himself can sue Dr. Ubah for slapping him and the beating he received from his goons.
All in all, despite the above lessons from the bizarre occurrance last week in Nnewi, such an incident has no place in our football and even though the LMC sanctions are not as tough as would have necessarily deterred others from repeating the act, we hoope such dastardly acts do not
repeat themselves in our league.