Exclusion of Nigerian Referees from AFCON 2024: Urgent Need for Self-Examination and Transformation

Nigerian Referees

The African Cup of Nations (AFCON) is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious football tournaments on the continent, attracting the finest talents from across Africa. However, for the second consecutive edition, Nigeria finds itself without representation among the selected referees for the upcoming 2024 AFCON in Cote d’Ivoire. This omission has sparked concern and raised questions about the state of Nigerian refereeing and the underlying issues affecting football in the country.

The List of Referees for AFCON 2024 in Cote d’Ivoire.

Nigerian Referees

The Absence of Nigerian Referees: A Troubling Pattern

The absence of Nigerian referees from the AFCON stage is undoubtedly a cause for concern. It not only reflects poorly on the country’s footballing prowess but also raises questions about the state of football administration in Nigeria. Back-to-back AFCON tournaments without a single Nigerian referee selected is a matter that cannot be ignored.

Corruption in Nigerian Politics Seeping into Sports

One cannot help but wonder if the omission of Nigerian referees from AFCON is somehow related to the high-profile corruption prevalent in Nigerian politics, which has unfortunately seeped into various aspects of society, including sports. While we vehemently denounce politics in sports, it’s disheartening to witness the ripple effects of corruption damaging our footballing reputation.

NPFL’s Stagnation: A Major Culprit

The Nigerian Premier Football League (NPFL), once considered a powerhouse in African football, is currently facing its fair share of challenges. The lack of sponsorship and dwindling interest from the business community have hampered the league’s growth and development. This stagnation has persisted for years, preventing Nigerian football from living up to its moniker as the “Giant of Africa.”

Competency Versus Corruption

It’s important to note that the omission of Nigerian referees may not necessarily reflect their competency but rather the taint of corruption that has plagued Nigerian football. There’s an urgent need for a shift in attitude and behavior within the football community, focusing on doing the right things at the right time.

International Trust Deficit

The world’s lack of trust in Nigerian decision-making, including the exclusion of Nigerian referees from AFCON 2024, is a bitter pill to swallow. It suggests that Nigerian football officials need to rebuild trust and credibility on the international stage. Negative incidents involving Nigerian referees in the past may have contributed to this situation.

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A Call for Self-Improvement and Accountability

While it’s disappointing not to see a Nigerian referee on the AFCON 2024 list, it serves as a wake-up call. There is strong competition among referees from various countries to officiate at major tournaments, and other nations may have presented more qualified candidates. This omission should motivate Nigerian referees and football authorities to enhance their standards and practices.

NRA’s Responsibility

The Nigeria Referees Association (NRA) bears a significant responsibility in addressing this recurring issue. It is imperative for the NRA to provide explanations for the continued omission of Nigerian referees from major tournaments like AFCON. A transparent review of their selection processes and measures to ensure fairness and competence is crucial.

A Path to Redemption

While the absence of Nigerian referees in AFCON 2024 is undoubtedly a setback, it also presents an opportunity for redemption. Nigerian football authorities must commit to the development of referees and the overall improvement of the domestic league.


The exclusion of Nigerian referees from AFCON 2024 is a stark reminder that there’s much work to be done in Nigerian football. It’s time for less talk and more action. Corruption in Nigerian football has cast a shadow over the country’s reputation, and it’s high time we tackled these issues head-on. Nigeria, often referred to as the “Giant of Africa,” must rise to the occasion, address its footballing challenges, and reclaim its standing as a football powerhouse on the continent.