Referee receives phone call and other trending Nigerian football stories

Two weeks ago, Nigerian football twitter almost crashed when someone came up with a story that was as bizarre as it got.

After the rescheduled league game between Gombe United and Enugu Rangers, the official fan twitter of Rangers, @Rangers12th man claimed the referee received a phone call while there on the pitch.

As is usual with the Nigerian band wagon effect, it became a trending topic on twitter as people just retweeted, made snide comments, with very few asking any intelligent questions.

The tweet went thus- This is another first the centre referee of the #GOMRAN answers his phone while the match is still on, we wonder who called him @LMCNPFL

Two weeks after that tweet there has been no single piece of ocular evidence that it happened.

This is 2017 and in a stadium that had at least ten thousand people, not one got that “Kodak moment” with the referee receiving a phone call while the game was on?

The questions I have asked- did he have the phone in his pocket all along? Then when it rang, how did he stop the game and take the call?

Maybe, the 4th official received the call on his behalf, gave a signal then he went to the touch line to take the call?

Or maybe a fan or club official just ran down from the terraces, mobile phone in hand, waving frantically at the referee to stop the game and speak to whoever was on the other side?

In the Nigerian League, club officials and fans have been known to concoct stories to justify a loss or poor performance. I have listed a few notable ones here

Dem carry referee come- which means the referee was on the pay roll of the other club.

Linesman just draw line for center of field- which means every time they attack, the flag went up for offside and their attackers couldn’t go past a particular invisible horizontal line.

Referee tell our boys inside field say we go lose- the referee’s mind was already made up from the start that we would lose and he made it known to the players verbally.

Our defender head ball, referee give penalty- It was a simple header out of the box and the referee called a penalty for handball

Attacker fall by himself and ref give penalty- The attacker was standing on his own and fell without any contact since there was no one close to him yet the referee gave a penalty.

And perhaps the most ridiculous one ever that the teller needs to be mauled is for telling is - Foul wey happen for center, referee carry am go penalty- The referee gave a penalty for a foul at the center circle.

Now I have heard this one time without number and the sincere look on the face of the teller of this particular tale is what kills me.

There are many such tales, even more ridiculous ones that fans and clubs officials tell, especially in games not live on television that the hapless and gullible public feed on.

It is a shame that the formerly respected Rangers fan twitter went down that road and even bigger shame that Nigerian football twitter swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

Two weeks after that incident there is no photo of the event…

And if this means anything, the same Rangers fan twitter said there were thirteen minutes of added time in that game only to recant after it had been called out by another twitter user, @FisayoDairo.

Rangers 12th man then claimed it was auto correct failure on his smart phone and it was really 8 minutes added and not 12. Let this sink in.

Mauling your very own

The reports from the same game between Gombe United and Rangers, were to say the least, shocking and disgraceful.

At least this time we saw pictures and a video of the goalkeeper of the home side, Gombe United, Niyi Fabiyi mauled by fans of his own club like a herd of leopards devouring an antelope.

What was his sin? They say he threw the game.

Nigeria is a very funny, amusing and sometimes downright annoying country with very funny, amusing and downright annoying people too.

By the time the home club released a statement as regards the fans’ violence on the day, their own fans, the narrative was changed to the fact that the goalkeeper was a compulsive gambler and he probably threw the game because he had placed a bet on it.

That was the most shameless thing I had ever heard or read in my football life that came out of Gombe United.

And as is usual with the Nigerian bandwagon mentality, the narrative left the violence to the fact that the team had a gambler of a goalkeeper who bet on his own game (that incidentally was not on any bet slip).

As has happened in Nigeria for the past forty years, the fans who meted out that violent act on the Gombe United goalkeeper will go scot-free and will be in the stadium for their next home game, probably boasting about what they did.

Why does it seem there is a kind of immunity within the walls of a Nigerian stadium?

Commit a crime on the streets and you go in for assault or what ever crime you engaged in but do the same within a stadium and after one week of the issue trending on social media, every one returns to Status quo ante?

It seems to me that the last has been heard of the attempted murder of the Gombe United goalkeeper, Niyi Fabiyi.

It is just a crying shame that the Nigerian players’ Union (I do not know what name they go by these days) have not gone to court against Gombe United.

While we bury our heads in the sand, I remember the words of my great ancestor, Akakpo, “The monkey that laughs and claps as the trees in the Forest are being cut down will only go home to find out his house now lies on the ground.”

Next week, there will surely be something to discuss about Nigerian football.

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