What NPFL Referees need to boost officiating standard – Owumi

Davidson Owumi, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL), has recognized the imperative role of modern technological aids in improving officiating standards. In a recent statement, Owumi, a former international turned football administrator, assessed the league’s referee performance, acknowledging marked improvements in various organizational aspects.

“With 185 matches played, we encountered issues in less than 15, representing over 85% excellence in referee performance,” Owumi stated. He emphasized the increasing technological influence in football, particularly the use of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) to rectify human errors, underscoring the league’s commitment to introducing such technology.

Owumi highlighted the NPFL’s zero-tolerance stance on poor officiating, citing swift actions, including the withdrawal of culprits from officiating NPFL matches. Collaborating with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and development partners, the league aims to integrate technology to enhance the overall refereeing experience.

Expressing a dedication to match officials’ welfare, Owumi outlined unprecedented measures taken by the NPFL, including increased travel allowances, honorarium, and prompt crediting of officials’ bank accounts before travel.

Furthermore, Owumi commended the impact of a special security arrangement for matchdays, requiring home teams to provide a Special Escort Security Squad for match officials. Notably, the league implemented points deduction penalties for clubs whose fans physically attacked referees, reinforcing a commitment to a safe and fair playing environment.

While noting an isolated breach in Gombe, resulting in point deductions for Gombe United, Owumi underscored the league’s ongoing efforts to elevate officiating standards and strive for global recognition. As the 2023/24 NPFL mid-season kicked off on January 19, 2024, the league anticipates a continued focus on improvement, with the season set to resume on February 3, 2024.

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