Players and supporters of the Ishielu Local Government Area team swooped on the referee, Sebastian Onwe, at the end of the Ebonyi State governor, Francis Nwifuru’s cup final match on Sunday evening.
The referee was said to have been chased all over the stadium as he ran for his dear life over alleged poor officiating in the match.
The attack was finally quelled after the governor intervened in rescuing the referee from the mob which overpowered the security men trying to protect him.
Condemning the attack in his remarks during the prize presentation ceremony, Nwifuru described the act as ‘shameful and embarrassing’.
“I did not expect the players to behave unprofessionally.
“Anyone not happy with a referee’s decision should not get to him but complain to the relevant officials.
“The person will still get a response and I am sure with what the sports commissioner told me, we will not have a repeat of this kind of violence,” he said.
The governor noted that to forestall such occurrences, match officials for subsequent competitions will come from other states.
“The match officials would not be known to anyone or any team.
“The sports commissioner has, however, shown his strength in organising such a competition and we would continue providing opportunities to empower and unite our youths,” he said.
He announced the floating of a football outfit for the state but remarked that membership would be sourced from the three senatorial districts of the state.
“We would first float teams in the three districts and then select the best players to form the state’s main outfit.
“They would be nurtured for a year and be well equipped to excel at the highest level,” he said.
Nwifuru also augmented the prize money for the victorious teams, noting that this was in appreciation of the player’s gallant efforts.
“The commissioner told me that the winners would receive N1 million but the government will add N2 million to make it a total of N3 million.
“The runners-up was supposed to receive N700,000 but we would add N1.2 million to make it N1.9 million.
“The third-placed team was to receive N500,000 but we would add N1 million to make it N1.5 million,” he said.
The State Commissioner for Youth Development and Sports, Richard Idike, thanked the governor for being present at the final and commended the participants for their efforts.
“The management will take a decision on the attack on the referee because we are not known for such acts,” he said.
NAN reports that Ebonyi LGA won the trophy by beating Ishielu 2-1 while Ohaozara LGA came third by defeating Izzi 1-0 in the third-place match.