Anambra State Government may have finally decided to join the league of state governments that are sponsoring football teams in the various cadres of the nation’s domestic leagues, Completesports.com reports.
This follows the revelation by Chikelue Iloenyosi, a former Nigeria international and current Chairman of the Anambra State Football Association that he has received Executive approval by Governor Chukwuma Soludo for the establishment of Anambra State-owned football club.
“First of all, I want to thank His Excellency, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, Executive Governor of Anambra State for approving for the establishment of the State’s football team which is very, very important for Anambra State,” reveals the ex-U23 Olympic Eagles defender.
“Anambra State is going to have a SOLUTION TEAM very soon,” Iloenyosi said.
Before now, Anambra State is arguably the second State in South-East Nigeria and third in the country without a state-owned football club.
Anambra and Ebonyi States, both in the South-East, as well as Lagos State in the South-West, are without clubs in any of Nigeria’s domestic football leagues.
Chikelue Iloenyosi equally took time to respond to issues regarding the ongoing maiden edition of the Anambra State All Stars Football Championship.
‘General’, as the former Olympic Eagles defender is fondly called, held no bars when he spoke on the sidelines of the Round of 16 matches of the Anambra All-Stars tournament at the Awka City Stadium.
Asked about the disqualification of the Ekwulobia All Stars team for having a referee currently officiating in the tournament in their matchday squad list, Iloenyosi said it was ‘unprofessional’ and amounting to one being a ‘solicitor and judge at the same time’
“This is the first All-Stars competition in the State and as such, there are bound to be issues,” Iloenyosi remarked.
“And we’ve had to deal with such issues promptly as they arise without bias to maintain the integrity of the competition while trying not to erode its quality and sanctity.
“Yeah, the decision we took in the match between Ekwulobia All Stars and Omagba All Stars is very, very clear.
“Ekwulobia All Stars were alleged to have a referee currently officiating in the tournament in their match day squad list. This didn’t sit appropriately well with the rules as it affects justice and fair play.
“We went through the match Commissioners report, the referee’s report and even saw in the video footage that indeed, the man was listed for the match, so on the strength of the convincing and overwhelming evidence, we took the right decision which was to disqualify Ekwulobia All Stars team.”
There were suggestions that both teams ought to have been summoned to face the FA panel for them to defend themselves.
But the FA boss said it was unnecessary since there was ‘glaring and factual convincing evidence that indeed, the referee had officiated in previous games in the tournament, a situation that rendered him ineligible to play for Ekwulobia All Stars or any other team in the same competition.
“Yes, we didn’t invite both teams to the FA Secretariat for a hearing in the matter. Some people may feel it was appropriate to have both parties argue their case in the presence of the FA. But when we were convinced with clear evidence to prove the referee’s inclusion in the match day team sheet as well as the video clips where he was seen shouting at his team, we needed no further argument or evidence on the matter before taking a decision, ” Iloenyosi said.
There have been some other referees who are taking part in the ongoing tournament and Iloenyosi was quick to clear the air by drawing a line between the two issues.
“A referee is allowed to play in the tournament for as long as he’s not part of the officiating referees in the tournament. If you want to play, you don’t officiate. And if you want to officiate, you don’t play,” the FA boss emphasised, citing some clear cases.
“For instance, the Chairman of Awka South Referees Council is playing for Peace FC All-Stars. He’s allowed to play because he’s not officiating in the tournament as a referee.
“You cannot officiate in a tournament as a referee and at the same time play in the same competition as an active player. So that’s why we took the decision and also the reason why we didn’t invite both teams.
“Of course, before then, the petition was already out, and everybody had seen the handwriting clearly on the wall. We sighted the referee with his jersey, we sighted him when he was aggressively talking to his team and all that.
“So it’s very, very simple. That’s why we did not invite anybody as we did in previous cases.
“Now, we’re going to take another decision on whatever they are writing to make sure that sanity prevails. There has to be a ‘ban’ on this thing because we must make sure that Anambra State Football Association is seen not to be made up of ‘moi-moi’ people.
“We do everything on the basic principle of justice and fair play and we must ensure that justice prevails at the end of the day”.
The former Iwuanyanwu Nationale defender disclosed that players are being pencilled down in the course of the All-Stars games. He added that the selected players will play in his team in a Novelty Match, adding that from the selected players, the team that will represent the State at the National All-Stars Championship will be selected.
“Already, some people are selecting players as the competition progresses. We’re going to play the All-Stars Novelty game against my team. I cannot finish a competition I organised without playing. This is fun, you know, so, me, I want to play because I want, to display some skills.
“We want to also raise the team that will represent the state at the National All-Stars Competition from players selected from this competition”.
The former Super Eagles defender admitted there are challenges faced by the FA in the course of staging the maiden edition of the Anambra State All-Stars Competition.
He said such challenges had to do with funds but quickly pointed out that some public-spirited individuals extended some measure of assistance towards the project.
“We’re moving forward. The most important thing in this tournament is the fact that it is the first edition. The second edition is going to be much better and I’m promising everybody that we gonna have more than 50 teams in the next edition.
“I know that many teams would want to play. But we won’t have more than the required number. And we’ll do it in such a way that we will use money (registration fee) to scare some teams out. You can see the fun in the tournament now. Everybody is coming to Awka every weekend with their families to enjoy themselves. That’s the essence of this tournament, fun”.
Iloenyosi paid glowing tribute to the State Government for putting in place the Awka City Stadium, saying it has provided the platform for the current fast tempo of football and sports revolution sweeping through the state.
“I’ve to thank the state government for this wonderful pitch. If the state government had not given us this infrastructure, we would not have been playing this tournament.
“So, all the glory goes to the state government. And I want to thank the Sports Commission Chairman (Patrick Estate Onyedum) for standing behind me. He’s been in support of everything I do.
“And I want to give special thanks to the Governor of Anambra State for all the support he’s been giving to us.
“I want to thank the Deputy Governor who, despite his crowded schedule, still squeezed out time to grace the opening ceremony of this tournament. I will also extend my thanks to the Speaker of the State House of Assembly and the Majority Leader.
“We’re are here to support the government of Gov Prof Chukwuma Soludo on whatever he’s doing to make sure that we had an enabling environment here in Anambra State”.
By Sab Osuji
Copyright © 2022 Completesports.com All rights reserved. The information contained in Completesports.com may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the prior written authority of Completesports.com.