Edo FA Cup match ends prematurely in controversy and violence as player strikes ref with heavy blow

By Nelson Dafe, Benin City on May 15, 2018

Views: 1,073

It was another sad chapter for Nigeria’s and Edo Football as for the second year running, violence and controversy has marred the excitement of an FA Cup match in the state.

It was a tense affair at the main bowl of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) sports complex on Monday afternoon when Nigerian professional division 1 side Dynamite Force squared up against a grassroots club Mission Side FC in the second round of the Edo State FA Cup competition.

The match started with Mission Side putting up a spirited display of resolve and attacking display and they stunned Dynamite with a first half goal.

Dynamite kept their nerves and drew level early in the second half after an error from the Mission Side goalkeeper only to be stunned again by a quick reply from the fearless grassroots outfit moments later following a goal mouth scramble and some shambolic goalkeeping from the Dynamite goalkeeper.

But Dynamite soon restored parity yet again following a flowing moving of nice passing football to make the scoreline 2-2.

Then controversy started as the centre referee became the centre of focus. 

Mission Side seemed to have won a clear penalty when a shaky Dynamite defender brought down a marauding Mission Side attacker who seemed set to restore his team's lead for the third time in the match. But the referee, to the utter disbelief of the Mission Side supporters sounded his whistle to signal a free-kick against the aghast attacker.

The incensed Mission Side bench needed some pacification from the assistant referees to calm down.

At the end of 90 minutes, the centre ref added a mammoth eight minutes of extra time to the chagrin of the Mission Side supporters who heavily suspected an orchestrated attempt to influence the game in Dynamite’s favour.

With moments remaining of the eight added minutes, a Mission Side defender was given his second yellow card and then dismissed for time wasting, for holding on to the ball after Dynamite were awarded a throw in.

This further incensed the supporters of Mission Side who had a serious meltdown as Dynamite went on to score their third goal well over the eight minutes added on. As protestations were going on in the crowd, the real tragic drama was to happen in the pitch.

The captain of the Mission Side team walked straight to the center referee and handed him a blow to the eye socket. The ref was quickly surrounded by security men at the sports complex and led away into one of the dressing rooms as supporters of Mission Side called for blood.

It would be recalled that last year, in the semi-final of the same competition in Edo State, Dynamite Force and grassroots side  BJ Foundation FC of Benin ended their semi-final match in a bloody free-for-all fight involving players and officials of both sides when a controversial late minute goal was awarded to Dynamite.

Players and officials of both sides received various lengthy bans from the Edo FA for their part in the violence on that day.

This time though, the Dynamite players and officials stayed away from being involved in the violence, as they huddled together with trouble brewing around.

But this has not stopped serious questions about why the club and the other pro 1 club in the state seemingly have seriously controversial refereeing decisions go in their favor at the expense of lesser grassroots sides.

The same referee was in charge of Bendel Insurance’s first round match and was said to have awarded a late minute goal to give Insurance  a 1-0 win over grassroots side Eagles Wings FC, ignoring the raised flag of his assistant referee signalling offside.

A grassroots coach complained: “The FA is working towards an Insurance vs Dynamite FA cup final... They know what they are doing.... Satan help them.”

A Mission Side official Eseosa Bazuaye had a tough time appealing to supporters and his players to leave the sports complex premises to avoid any possible bloodbath. It was a tough job as the supporters threatened fire and brimstone.

Bazuaye later said: “Any referee taking bribe or favouring a team against another is putting his life and family in danger. Simple!”

He added: “If this kind of broad daylight cheating and robbery continues in Edo state football, growth and development is far away. Please, that referee who officiated the match should be suspended or banned.”

Source Daily Sports

Posted May 15, 2018

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