Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) General Secretary, has narrated the ugly incident that transpired on Saturday at the Stade Municipal in Niamey.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Nigeria’s U-17 side, Golden Eaglets on Saturday lost 1-3 to their Nigerien counterparts in a return-leg qualifying match of the 2017 AFCON U-17 championship in Niamey.
The result means the Eaglets crashed out of the race for Madagascar 2017 on a 3-2 aggregate after their 1-0 win in the first leg in Abuja.
A statement on the NFF website quoted Sanusi as saying,“I feel bad because we are out, but I feel terribly bad the way we were badly treated.
“Apart from what happened to the Super Falcons in Equatorial Guinea during a qualifying match, I have not seen this kind of maltreatment against a visiting team.
“It was very clear that the Nigeriens were up to something from their dealings with us while planning for this second leg match.
“We knew the rules that you must enter an agreement with the host football association if you want to broadcast a match live.
“However, in this case we came only with our Video Recording Camera and we sought for their permission during the match coordination meeting on Friday.
“They said they were not going to allow that, but we said this was just for our own consumption.
“So after a lot of argument, they agreed we could mount our camera at the media tribune (with their local TV people) because the match was not taken live by any station,’’ Sanusi explained.
The NFF General Secretary said that he had personally spoken with the match commissioner (from Chad) as well as the president, secretary general and deputy secretary general of Niger Football Federation prior to the match.
“They all said there was no way they won’t allow us to record the match since it was just going to be for our consumption.
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“But just before the match started, they came to the VIP Box where I was sitting with their federation president and they spoke in their local language.
“I did not understand exactly what they discussed but immediately the match started and in front of their Federation president, they started trouble.
“Their fully –armed policemen forcefully took away the Video Record Camera from our staff and took away the camera.
“Later they came after me and wanted to take away my eye-glasses, which can also record but unfortunately the device was not working since it was not fully charged.
“One of them walked up to me and dragged me by the neck and wanted to take away the glasses.
“All these happened in the presence of their governor, in front of their ministers and in front of their Football Federation officials, and this is unfortunate because we treated them well when they came to Abuja,’’ he said.
On his rating of the officiating Sanusi said, “I always prefer not to talk about things like this because I’m a sportsman and administrator, but there was more to what we saw here in Niamey from these officials.
“This, I believe, was why they seized our camera. Look at the penalty awarded against us by the referee; where did that come from? There was nothing close to being a penalty kick in that situation.
“ Even the free-kick that was given during the prolonged time-added-on time was strange. The referee was making foul calls on all the moves we made.
“I have never seen this kind of humiliation and officiating,’’ Sanusi lamented.
He gave the assurance that the Nigerian Ambassador to Niger, Abduljelil Sulaiman, who also doubled as Chairman of the Niger-Nigeria Joint Border Commission, was going to take over the case.
“He was shocked and deeply worried that such events as happened today can happen in football and was greatly touched about the ill treatment meted out to us both on and off the pitch.
“He saw what happened live and he said he was going to take up this issue with the Nigerien people,’’ the official said. (NAN)
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