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Nigeria Premier League suspended over referees strike

ABUJA (AFP) – Nigeria’s top flight football league was suspended on Wednesday after referees were directed not to take charges of matches in protest at a governance crisis in the domestic game.

Nigeria Premier League organisers the League Management Committee said it was “impossible for us to organise games” as a result of the directive from the Nigeria Referees Association (NRA).

The NRA earlier ordered that all referees slated to officiate in the Premier League should withdraw from matches “until sanity is restored” in the national game.referees

The directive, contained in a circular signed by NRA secretary-general Moroof Oyekunle Oluwa, also applied to the second-tier National League, Nigeria Federation Cup and the women’s leagues.

The Premier League and National League are both in their 25th week of action.

Defending champions Kano Pillars currently top the table with 43 points.

League Management Committee official Salihu Abubakar said clubs and their sponsorship partners have been informed and teams directed not to proceed to venues of their scheduled games until further notice.

“We are already running a tight fixture schedule and are hoping that this crisis is resolved soon so the season can be concluded in time for our clubs to prepare for continental registration and participation”, the statement concluded.

Nigeria’s football association the NFF has been in crisis since July, when world governing body FIFA suspended the country from all international competitions over what it said was “government interference” in the running of the game.

The ban was later lifted.

NFF president, Aminu Maigari, was dismissed on charges of embezzlement, then reinstated because of procedural irregularities before being held by the country’s secret police for an unspecified reason.

This week, a new president was appointed in his place in defiance of a FIFA order only to set a date for fresh elections of the association’s high command, raising the possibility of fresh sanctions.

To top it all, the NFF headquarters in Abuja were gutted by fire and national team coach Stephen Keshi has been locked in a wrangle over a new contract, just weeks before the start of qualification for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. Nigeria are defending champions.

Already, the country’s Coaches Association has distanced itself from the NFF while football writers have called on Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan to intervene.


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