Condemnation has trailed the decision of Anambra State Football Association (FA) to stop the 2019 pre-season tournament for clubs in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) and other leagues in the South-East and South-South.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that the organisers had originally scheduled the tournament to kick off on Tuesday, Aug. 20, at the NEROS Sports Stadium, Nanka, Orumba North Council Area of the Anambra.
According to the fixtures released by the organisers, about 20 clubs, including four from the Nigerian elite division and 15 others from within the South-East and South-South and outside the zone, were to have participated in the tournament.
However, the Anambra FA had late Monday, denied knowledge of the tournament, saying the organisers never contacted the body and described the planned tournament as illegal.
The state FA in a statement by its secretary, Chijioke Onyedika, threatened to sanction any club and their officials under its jurisdiction that violated its directive.
The football association said the organisers’ action was capable of causing breach of public peace, saying it had invited them to explain why disciplinary action should not be taken against them.
The association said: “The FA hereby states that this competition is not known to them, the FA declares this competition as illegal and hereby warns all affiliate clubs from both the state and outside the state to stay away from this competition with immediate effect.
“Any team and technical attachees who participate in this competition shall be seriously dealt with in line with NFF statutes and code of conduct,” it said.
Patrick Nwaogu, chairman of the Main Organising Committee, who confirmed the suspension of the tournament to the NAN, said clubs, especially those in the elite division had called to notify him of their pulling out due to the development.
Nwaogu described the FA’s decision as drastic, saying there were other avenues the body would have remedied the organisers’ oversight.
He, however, said he was waiting for the outcome of the FA board meeting scheduled for Aug. 23 before he would decide what next line of action to pursue.
Football enthusiasts, who acknowledged that the organisers were wrong to have side stepped the FA, however, noted that the FA’s decision was a little too harsh.
They described the development as a battle of ego, adding that the FA’s decision on the tournament was a colossal damage and a serious set back to development of soccer in Anambra.
Victor Nwangwu, a long time secretary of Anambra FA, said the FA owned and managed football anywhere and should have been duly informed by the South-East and South-South 2019 NPFL pre-season tournament organisers well ahead of time
Nwangwu said a member of the FA should have been part of the Main Organising Committee but blamed the FA for not working to remedy the situation rather than scuttling the entire tournament.
He said the state would lose hugely if the tournament failed to hold or the big teams eventually pull out after the issues would have been sorted out.
“In the matter, the FA should have played the role of father or big brother, but they have taken a decision that comes with colossal damage.
“It was the opportunity for our boys in the street and amateur teams to express themselves before the big teams for possible signings; but that chance is lost, especially if the NPFL teams finally withdraw.
“Twenty teams are supposed to play, 15 of them were likely to lodge in hotels in Anambra occupying not less than 10 rooms each.
“They will eat, there will be boom for businesses, transporters and others, hosting games comes with much benefit and we are at the risk of losing the economic gains.
“It is a pity, the FA did not consider all these before putting up that disclaimer, I just hope they can resolve it,” he said.