Nigerian Football and #VAR: Is our Football League Ready for Video Assistant Refereeing?
Football is unarguably the most popular sport in Nigeria. It not only serves as a good export, but it also binds people together as Nigerians are never as united as when the country is taking part in an international football event like the World Cup or the African Cup of Nations. The country is hardly happier than when the team wins matches at such events.
I love how football unite Nigerians..this is amazing.
— Ruqayya (@missiyyah) June 22, 2018
But while several national teams have brought the country some international glory, football administration and development in the country itself is not encouraging to say the least. The local Nigerian football league has been plagued with so many ills over the years, most of them man-made.
Seemingly insurmountable challenges like poor funding, lack of sponsorship, poor marketing, inability to televise matches, crowd violence, atrocious refereeing and poor reporting are a few problems that have stunted the growth of the Nigerian football league. Because of these problems, our leagues have been reduced to eyesores which nobody wants to see.
You can't score this type of goals in Nigeria professional football league …one of your leg will be long gone in the air 😂😂😂😂😂😂
— 🌟KING OF LAGOS(MFR) (@Derek74399105) October 20, 2018
One of the biggest problems plaguing the actual football is terrible officiating. Bad officiating in turn usually leads to crowd violence targeted at officials. Some Nigerians have proffered the introduction of Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR) as a solution to the problem. The surprising thing is that most Nigerians agree it won’t work. Their reasons are as follows:
VAR costs a lot more money. With the league and clubs lacking sponsorship and still depending on government handouts, it’s hard to see them meeting up with the financial demands of VAR.
The Nigerian League that don't even have enough money n sponsor to broadcast all its matches, how can they introduce VAR not to talk of Goal Line Technology?
— Sanni Babalola (@sanni_babalola) June 30, 2018
Another reason why some Nigerians think it won’t work is due to the poor power supply which would limit if not totally eliminate the decision-making system
@genakhena One of the major reason will can't introduce VAR in Nigerian league is basically because of power supply.
— UNCLE IMPORTANTER (@TheKingJosiah_) January 17, 2018
There are those who think VAR would worsen crowd violence against referees because the crowd would likely interpret the time wasted while double-checking with VAR to mean the ref is trying to be shady.
VAR can’t work in the Nigerian league. At least not yet. Referee will say something is a goal or a penalty minutes after the deed. Them go just beat am.
— Kemi (@TheKemi_Y) June 16, 2018
Others pointed out that Nigerian referees are simply not capable enough to be trusted with VAR and unless foreign refs would be imported along with VAR facilities, the system would fail
I hope when they bring VAR to African football, they will bring white Referees to watch oo, cos there won't be any difference if not. Can't believe the added time given, with all the stoppages.. CAF Improve ooo
— Darlington Odom (@darlwhizkid) January 15, 2018
Some people think Nigeria generally lacks the technical manpower to handle VAR
@LagosTalks913 Even if dem bring VAR come for Nigerian league, the thing go begin show black and white like CCTV camera lol! 😁
Abeg no waste resources jare, I no fit laugh.
— Uniport Graduate (@charlescapone4) June 26, 2018
Others think that the VAR system, just like virtually everything else in Nigeria, will be criminally manipulated by those in charge of it.
— Jessica Amadi (@Isiokpobabe) June 27, 2017
@genakhena, good morning to you guys. To the referee, can VAR work with our league considering Nigerian factor in our football.
— Francis Asenokha (@frankiss_14) September 12, 2018
There are some who joke that Africa already has its own traditional form of VAR, and wished we would resort to it:
— Babasola Kuti (@SKSolaKuti) July 17, 2018
Others think the application of VAR should be extended to elections and politicians
VAR Has really done justice to football wish it can do justice to Nigerian politicians. @omalejosh19 @Zza_Aless @Arphaxad09 @Eurosport the spirit of @LeroySane19 of @ManCity has hunted @DFB_Team_EN head coach Löw. So happy they re out
— Nathan Orobor (@boss_nathan) June 27, 2018
This VAR technology in football needs to be modified and used during African general elections.
— Timothy Kalyegira (@TimKalyegira) June 20, 2018
Whichever assumption you hold, it’s clear that the Nigerian league is not ready for VAR. With the revolution in technology sweeping through Africa and Nigeria, it is sad that Nigerian football hasn’t moved into the 21st century. The saddest story is that it doesn’t look like it would for a very long time.
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