Nigerian Football and #VAR: Is our Football League Ready for Video Assistant Refereeing?

Nigerian Football and VAR: Is the Nigerian Football League Ready for the Shift?

Football is unarguably the most popular sport in Nigeria. It not only serves as a good export, but it also binds people together as Nigerians are never as united as when the country is taking part in an international football event like the World Cup or the African Cup of Nations. The country is hardly happier than when the team wins matches at such events.

But while several national teams have brought the country some international glory, football administration and development in the country itself is not encouraging to say the least. The local Nigerian football league has been plagued with so many ills over the years, most of them man-made.

Seemingly insurmountable challenges like poor funding, lack of sponsorship, poor marketing, inability to televise matches, crowd violence, atrocious refereeing and poor reporting are a few problems that have stunted the growth of the Nigerian football league. Because of these problems, our leagues have been reduced to eyesores which nobody wants to see.

One of the biggest problems plaguing the actual football is terrible officiating. Bad officiating in turn usually leads to crowd violence targeted at officials. Some Nigerians have proffered the introduction of Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR) as a solution to the problem. The surprising thing is that most Nigerians agree it won’t work. Their reasons are as follows:

VAR costs a lot more money. With the league and clubs lacking sponsorship and still depending on government handouts, it’s hard to see them meeting up with the financial demands of VAR.

Another reason why some Nigerians think it won’t work is due to the poor power supply which would limit if not totally eliminate the decision-making system

There are those who think VAR would worsen crowd violence against referees because the crowd would likely interpret the time wasted while double-checking with VAR to mean the ref is trying to be shady.

Others pointed out that Nigerian referees are simply not capable enough to be trusted with VAR and unless foreign refs would be imported along with VAR facilities, the system would fail


Some people think Nigeria generally lacks the technical manpower to handle VAR

Others think that the VAR system, just like virtually everything else in Nigeria, will be criminally manipulated by those in charge of it.

There are some who joke that Africa already has its own traditional form of VAR, and wished we would resort to it:

Others think the application of VAR should be extended to elections and politicians

Whichever assumption you hold, it’s clear that the Nigerian league is not ready for VAR. With the revolution in technology sweeping through Africa and Nigeria, it is sad that Nigerian football hasn’t moved into the 21st century. The saddest story is that it doesn’t look like it would for a very long time.

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