KELECHI Mejuobi, Deputy President, Nigeria (Football) Referees Association (NRA), says there is no cause for alarm over the absence of Nigerian referees at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023 in Cote d’Ivoire.
Mejuobi said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lagos.
He said the selection of referees in football tournaments was the responsibility of international football bodies such as Confedration of African Football (CAF) and Federation of International Football Association (FIFA).
“CAF’s referee committee did not pick any referee from Nigeria and it is not the duty of any Nigerian referee to take himself to AFCON.
“It is the duty of the African football governing body to pick referees. So, the question goes back to CAF.
“In a case when Nigerian Football Federation did not submit names, that is when you can say Nigerian referees failed.
“It is left for CAF, but what was their response? They said they needed the best but not good referees from Nigeria,” he said.
He, however, noted that the participation of Nigerian referees in CAF/FIFA courses would increase their chances of officiating in international football tournaments.
He said officiating was in two categories: Elite A and Elite B.
“As at the last Nations Cup, we had a Nigerian referee, and the one before that we also had a Nigerian referee.
“We have one referee who is in the Elite A grade but he sustained an injury and he is recovering; that was why he could not make it to AFCON,” he said.
However, Dele Atoun, Lagos State Football Referees Council Secretary, said the referee international body would be holding its training in Egypt in March.
He said two Nigerian coaches would also be badged during the training.
“We have one referee and assistant female referee to be badged to the Elite B grade.
“It takes a certain number of years, hard work and training to be upgraded to the Elite A grade of referees,” he said. (NAN)
-JANUARY 31, 2024 @ 13:05 GMT|Tags: AFCON CAF Dele Atoun Kelechi Mejuobi