• ‘It’s our duty to reposition Nigerian football’
• Thanks NFF President

The newly appointed Chairman of the Referees Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Faith Irabor, has promised to do her best to ensure that more Nigerian referees distinguish themselves to earn the ticket to officiate at international level.

Over the years, the issue of poor officiating had been the talking point both in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) and the lower divisions. Such ‘corrupt’ practices had denied Nigerian referees chances of officiating in competitions organised by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and World football governing body, FIFA.

To change the situation for good, NFF President, Ibrahim Gusau, decided to name Irabor, a retired referee as head of the Referee Committee. She is the first Nigerian woman to occupy the position.

Speaking with The Guardian, yesterday, Irabor, who retired in 2010 after many years of running around in the football pitch with male and female players, said that she would do everything possible to make her appointment a blessing for the nation’s football.

“I am excited about this unique opportunity that will enable me to bring my wealth of experience and knowledge to bear,” she said. “I am grateful to the NFF President, who is trying to bring in changes that will move our football forward. I have been in the field of refereeing for years. As a retired FIFA referee and a one-time CAF instructor, I have seen it all. One thing I will do is to try as much as possible to encourage those who will take their job serious. It won’t be business as usual, and I won’t tolerate anything that will damage the image of our football.

“As I said, those who are disciplined on the field will get my support because this present NFF board is ready to back our referees to the highest level. It is only those who proved themselves as good ambassadors inside the pitch that will merit such opportunity,” she stated.

Speaking further, Irabor recalls some of her memorable journey as a referee. “As a woman, I won’t forget the day FIFA picked me among referees for the first time. That was in 1995. And I was also among the first eight CAF instructors.

“And in the Nigeria Referees Association, I am also the first woman to be first vice president. I have been in the league with men, and was once the best Referee of the Year. I will do this job and bring a lot of reforms in appreciation of the confidence reposed in me by the NFF President. He wants to follow FIFA and CAF regulations, and we can see that everything is moving in the right direction. I won’t let Nigerians down.”

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