July 30, 2021

AITEO final: Owolabi faults security personnel over pitch invasion

July 30, 2019
Owollabi blamed security for pitch invasion between Kano Pillars and Niger Tornadoes in Kaduna on Sunday.

A former Green Eagles player, Felix Owolabi, on Tuesday blamed the organisers of the FA Cup final and security personnel for the pitch invasion that marred the Aiteo Cup final in Kaduna on Sunday.

Owolabi, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, said, “I believe the situation could have been managed better if the organisers had put certain things into consideration.”

NAN reports that there was pitch invasion during the 2019 Aiteo Cup final at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna when Kano Pillars FC defeated Niger Tornadoes 4-3 on penalties on Sunday.

Following the situation, security officials had a hard time dispersing the spectators.

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The former Green Eagles player said: “For instance, when was the last time a match of such magnitude was fixed in Kaduna.

“Secondly, the European League is off season, football lovers will be willing to watch any match at the stadium.

“With the unrest in the North, one should expect that the turnout will be massive because people are looking for something to distract them from their worries, so, adequate measures should have been put in place.”

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Owolabi said in Europe, security officers didn’t watch matches, as they are seen backing the stadium, so they can ensure that lives and property are safe, but here it’s not so.

“Immediately the match elapses at 90 minutes, the gates should have been opened so that fans that want to leave can take their leave.”

Asked about officiating in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), Owolabi urged the Nigeria Referees Association (NRA) to take another look into their operations.

“Most fans don’t have confidence in them and it’s been confirmed internationally because rarely do you see us officiating for CAF or FIFA, this only goes to confirm that we have a long way to go.

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“The mentality of winning at home is killing us, honestly in Europe a Liverpool FC club can go to Stamford Bridge and beat Lampard boys, home or away should be irrelevant,’’ he said.

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