The Nasarawa Football Association has suspended, indefinitely, Yakubu Hassan, a footballer who plays for “Dubagari Football Club”, Lafia, a local team in Nasarawa State, for slapping a centre referee during a football match.
Halidu Akwashiki, Vice Chairman of the association, confirmed the disciplinary action in an interview with a correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lafia on Wednesday.
Mr Akwashiki said that Hassan slapped the centre referee, Kasimu Ahmadu, on October 29 during his team’s encounter with another local team, Winda Force Football Club in Nasarawa-Eggon Local Government Area of the state after he was cautioned for an infringement.
The fixture is part of the state’s FA 2019/2020 ‘Premier League Competition’ initiative organised in partnership with Bet9ja, a betting company in Nigeria.
NAN reports that the initiative is for local teams across the state and kicked off in September 26 with 30 teams participating and divided into four groups.
Mr Akwashiki described the incident as bizarre. He said the FA via the disciplinary committee set up for the competition sat and decided to suspend the player from further participation in the competition.
Mr Akwashiki who is also chairman of the competition’s disciplinary committee added that aside the suspension, the player was directed to write an apology letter to the match officials and his club to pay a fine to the FA.
“The actions we took will serve as lessons to other players and clubs never to intimidate or instigate violence on match officials and to adhere strictly to the rules of the game,” he said.
He explained that the incident had been awkward and embarrassing to the match officials and both teams involved in the fixture and even warranted the player’s teammates reprimanding him for his action.
“It was embarrassing for everyone, and I mean everyone including the fans because we all assumed this action is unheard of in this generation but to our surprise, we have been reminded on the dangers match officials face just for doing their jobs; it is sad,” he said.
Also speaking, Mohammed Isa, Secretary-General, Nasarawa State Referees Council, expressed his disappointment over the incident and canvassed for stiffer punishment for any player who violently attacks referees in the course of carrying out their duties on the field of play.
“We feel bad on the issue and reported to the FA who have now taken action against the player and his team but despite that, we have called on the state FA to ensure that what happened does not repeat itself again,” he said.
Mr Isa further revealed that the referee council has decided that none of its officials will officiate any fixture with the player who slapped one of their members involved.
“I want to assure you that the player will never participate in any competition within this state again and if he is participating, the referees in the state shall not participate; that is our stand,” he said.