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Nigerian referees threatens to boycott premier league games

The Nigeria Referees Association (NRA) has distanced itself from a report suggesting that the body will stay away from officiating matches of the Nigeria Premier League (NPL) when the 2010/2011 season kicks off this Saturday in Kaduna.

President of the NRA, Ahmed Maude, who was expressly quoted in the report, denied speaking to any journalist until Monday afternoon since a meeting between his association and the Premier League last week.

“I have not spoken to anybody concerning the stand of the referees since our meeting with the Nigeria Premier League board last week. And let me also say that I never told anybody that we will boycott officiating in league matches.

I believe somebody is trying to be mischievous because I have been getting calls over this same report since (Monday) morning,” he told SuperSport.com.

Maude explained to SuperSport.com that the NPL and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) acknowledged the debt of N10 million owed the referees.

He added that the NRA has been assured that the money will be paid as soon as possible and said his association had to take into consideration the sponsorship problems that the Premier League encountered last season.

“We had a fruitful meeting with the Premier League board and they say that they regret that they owe the referees. The amount in question is N10 million and we know that last season they had to finish the league without money from their sponsors, which affected the whole of the structure of the league.

“We have entered into an agreement with them that the money will be paid as soon as they get it. So I wonder where that person heard me say that the referees will go on strike or boycott matches when the league starts. That person should be called to order because he is trying to misinform the public about what I never told him,” Maude said angrily.