Hosts Nasarawa United Football Club and Plateau United Football Club of Jos on Wednesday in Lafia ended their Match Day 4 clash 1-1, with an orgy of violence trailing the game.
After the game at the Lafia Township Stadium, the Match Commissioner, Centre Referee and the two Assistant Referees were among those who suffered attacks.
Also, Bala Nikyu, the Head Coach of Nasarawa United, was among victims of the attacks instigated by fans who felt that the match had been poorly officiated.
Players and officials of Plateau United FC were forced into the middle of the pitch till police reinforcements were in place to ensure their safety out of the stadium.
Even before the end of the 2019/2020 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) fixture, tension had heightened in the spectators stands.
There was agitation among the home club fans about the club’s poor performance since the beginning of the new season, and a good result was needed to douse tension.
When Nasarawa United’s Anas Yusuf scored in the 43rd minute, it seemed possible the home side would record their first win of the season.
But a glancing header by Mustapha Ibrahim made it 1-1 in the 54th minute to change the match’s complexion and for the fans to begin to express their frustration verbally.
NAN reports that the situation got worse with centre referee Bashir Salihu’s decision to overlook a tackle on a Nasarawa United player in their opponents’ penalty area late during the game.
The angry home fans were then joined by other fans who trooped into the stadium after the match ended, throwing stones, chairs and other objects at the referees.
It was during the attack on the match officials that an object hit the head of Nikyu, who was then quickly attended to by the club’s medical team.
In a reaction, Eche Amos, the Media Officer of Nasarawa United, who expressed sadness over the incident, blamed poor officiating for the violent melee.
“It’s quite unfortunate what happened today, but I think that our referees need to up their game, because part of what caused this situation is poor officiating,” he said.
A Nasarawa United FC supporter, who preferred anonymity, said that aside the poor officiating, the fans were also reacting to the way “Nasarawa United players had been treated in away fixtures recently’’.
“In Katsina where we (the club) played an away match recently, they threatened to kill our players and the referees if the home side did not win the match there.
“Because of that, two penalty kicks were awarded to the Katsina United team and they won. Why will anyone then expect us to watch and not do anything? It is not possible.
“If this league must move forward, there must be fairness both for away and home teams so that even if you lose at home, you can still have hope that if you go away and play well, you will win,’’ he said.