The wave of insecurity, most notably in the north, has continued to raise concerns and fears of the safety of players playing in the region. In retrospect, north used to be the safest and most conducive environment for sporting activities. A lot of sporting events have been held in the region with many clubs yearning to play in the region.
To buttress this point, when Nigeria hosted the U-17 World Cup in 2009, most of the matches were played in Kaduna State because it was widely believed to be a more secure and comfortable ground. It was on record that Kaduna stadium was crowded with football fans.
Today, it is a whole new ball game as playing games in the north is seen as a suicide mission. North doesn’t provide a healthy environment for sporting activities as people now see it as the hotbed of violence, where it will be foolhardy to risk playing a game.
In view of the level of insecurity plaguing the northern region, some football analysts are of the opinion that the Nigeria Premier League (NPL) and Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) should move all the NPL matches to the southern region.
The Nations Cup qualifier between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and Rwanda was slated to be played in Kaduna State but put off due to security challenges in the State.
Some of the NPL outstanding matches are as a consequence of security concerns. The league ought to have been concluded by now but is still on-going as a result of the arbitrary postponement of some games due to security challenges in the north.
Some NPL clubs asserted that they usually lose their games if played in the north because the environment has become uncomfortable for them. They maintained that the host team usually cash in on their anxiety and apprehension of safety to win the game.
Presently, it has become a daunting task for southern clubs to play in the northern states like Kaduna, Bauchi, Kano and Niger. Last time, Heartland FC of Owerri threatened to back out of their NPL game against Kaduna United at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna because of the issue of insecurity in the State.
Enugu Rangers FC was also pessimistic to visit Kano Pillars FC for their NPL away match at the Sani Abacha stadium, Kano due to security concerns. Eventually, they visited Pillars and lost the game. Rangers Media Officer, Foster Chime, claimed that his side lost to the host team as a result of fear of safety.
In the Federation Cup, Warri Wolves threatened to pull out of the completion because they were in the group that will play their games in Bauchi State. The club said that they would not jeopardise their lives on the altar of football since they believe Bauchi was a volatile state.
Former Super Eagles player and Warri Wolves top official, Edema Fuludu blasted the Nigeria Football Federation for their insensitivity towards the security concerns and well-being of clubs in the country.
Fuludu in a chat with Goal.com opined that it was wrong for the NFF to have insisted on the choice of Bauchi when the handwriting is clearly written on the wall that the area is danger prone.
“We have said it that we do not want to risk the lives of our players in anyway. We are not going in as much as it is still Bauchi State. The competition has no prize money and we are only playing for prestige and they do not want to shift ground for the good of the game,” Fuludu said.
Meanwhile the Bauchi State government issued a statement carpeting comments that the state is unsafe for players and teams.