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Giwa And The LMC Politics

Giwa
Posted: May 7, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Chibuike Chukwu

LAGOS – Football is best enjoyed when safety of all is guaranteed. Fans have expressed serious reservation about safety at match venues because of the volatile nature of home fans. And that was what played out in Jos during the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) week 12 match between Giwa FC and Rangers of Enugu. Rangers FC was leading 1-0 when fracas broke out in the 74th minute. The home fans invaded the field, which forced the match officials to call off the match with 16 minutes remaining. The League Management Company (LMC) slammed a N6.5 million fine on Giwa FC. The club was banned from playing its next three home matches in Jos, but in Ilorin, Kwara State. As part of the sanctions, the LMC ordered the replay of the remaining 16 minutes in Abuja. But Giwa failed to honour the match, prompting the LMC to slam a fresh fine of N3.65million, citing Rule B13.25 of its laws for the action. Expectedly, Giwa failed to honour its week 14 home match against Wikki Tourists in Ilorin. With the latest action, it is obvious that the Jos, Plateau State-based side is daring the LMC. The rule governing the league states that a club will be expelled from the league if it fails to honour two straight matches or three cumulative games.  Article 13.27 of the rules governing the league clearly spelt out the sanction of missing two consecutive matches without acceptable reasons to the organisers. It reads: “If a club fails to honour two consecutive matches without an acceptable reason to the LMC, such a club shall be expelled from the League and its matches played and un-played match shall be cancelled.” What, however, constitutes missing two matches according to this article? Harry Iwuala, LMC image maker, sheds light on this issue when asked. He said that  the 16-minute Rangers match does not count, saying that Giwa would likely be thrown out of the league if it fails to honour another league match, which is against Abia Warriors in Umuahia on Sunday. “If they miss the next match, that is when we will start talking of demotion; for now, they have not missed two matches because the rule says if you miss two consecutive matches. But they have missed only one,” he said. Proprietor of Giwa FC, Chris Giwa, is not oblivious of this article. The question that readily begs for answer is: Will he miss the next match against Abia Warriors? Will the laws of the game be pervaded because of FC Giwa’s owner, who is in a running battle for the soul of Nigerian football with Amaju Pinnick? It will be recalled that during one of the week 7 matches, Giwa FC defeated Ikorodu United 2-1 at Onikan Stadium, Lagos and Lagos fans never invaded the field. Crowd trouble in football venues is known to attract sanctions, which could be either or both playing in an empty stadium and monetary fines. This is to guard against such recurrence if the league must grow. For example, in March 2012, Heartland of Owerri was banished to Calabar after its fans attacked Enyimba during a league match. Enyimba was leading when the home fans descended on match officials and players. Heartland obeyed the order. Enyimba also suffered same fate as it was banished to Enugu when its fans maltreated match officials and players of Heartland players. In July 2004, Kwara United was not spared as it was banished to Ibadan as a result of the invasion of the pitch in a 2-2 game against the defunct Dolphins at Ilorin. In 2001, Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) was banished to Abuja by the organizers of the league following a crowd violence involving the fans and players of Sunshine Stars at the Lekan Salami Stadium, Ibadan. The Ibadan side was also slammed with a fine of N60,000 by the committee and was directed to repair the two vehicles of the visiting team, which were damaged during the fracas in which centre referee, Tayo Arinde, from Kwara State escaped death by whiskers. 3SC fulfilled all the conditions. Two seasons ago, Pillars was banished to Jalingo after crowd trouble in its match against Enyimba. Enyimba led before the crowd issue and the concluding match was played in Jalingo, just like its next five league fixtures. From the above examples, it is clear that clubs whose fans invade field of play and attack matxh officials alongside players of opposing team have not been spared. So why should FC Giwa be an exception? So is Chris Giwa, the owner of the team at the centre of the storm, taking the politics at the Nigeria Football Federation too far? Is he alleging victimisation from the LMC, whose leader, Shehu Dikko, is the NFF Vice President? Adegboye Onigbinde, former coach of the Super Eagles, said he was sure Giwa would have a reason for not allowing the team to honour the matches, but ruled out politics.  “I know Giwa may have a reason for boycotting these matches. Me and you are not there, so we cannot judge,” he said. But when reminded that other clubs in the country have earlier suffered similar fate, he said: “The owners of these clubs and FC Giwa’s owner are different. These ones you mentioned (referring to Enyimba, Heartland, Kwara United etc earlier mentioned) are owned by governments,” he said. But when Independent called Chris Giwa, he declined any comment, but referred us to the club’s media officer, King. But calls to the media officer, however, went unanswered.