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Toro laments poor crowd control

Emmanuel Ideah
04/09/2008


THE lack of effective crowd control at Nigerian stadia prior to the hosting of the 2009 Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) Under 17 Youth Championship by the country is giving former longest serving Secretary-General of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) grew hairs.

Lamenting this situation during an interview with newsmen at the Aper Aku Stadium, Makurdi, shortly after the Coca-Cola FA Cup final between eventual winners, Ocean Boys of Yenagoa and runners-up, Gombe United, Toro said that such a lapse must be checked by the authorities, ahead of Nigeria 2009, “because FIFA places emphasis on the safety of spectators before any other aspect of stadium.” He added that the situation called for urgent attention from the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of Nigeria 2009.

“The staging of the Nigeria Football League (NFL) Super Eight Cup Championship and the 2008 Coca-Cola FA Cup Final, to my own understanding, could have served as a test case for the Nigeria 2009 LOC in terms of crowd control. The situations both in Kano and here today (Saturday) at the Aper Aku Stadium are both chaotic and this needs very urgent attention, if we are looking forward to a smooth Nigeria 2009, because FIFA insists that gates of stadia either hosting friendly or competitive matches must be thrown open 20 minutes before the end of the encounters for spectators wishing to leave early to do so. But that has not been the case from my observation at both the Super Eight and FA Cup Finals, which is a very sad situation,” he said.

Toro appealed to both the NFA and the NFL to take urgent steps to address the situation by organizing special seminars for stadium managers on crowd control, prior to the Globacom and National Division One season, which would serve as a test case for Nigeria 2009.

The former NFA scribe’s lamentation arose from the chaotic gates, control during the FA Cup Final at the Aper Aku Stadium, Makurdi, when, 20 minutes after the match had ended, the main gates of the covered and VIP pavilions were still shut, because the stadium authorities insisted that the visiting governors were going to use the gates, when the governors were still watching the presentation of medals and trophies. Some spectators and VIPs who wanted to leave shortly after the final whistle, had their exit diverted through the gates of the visiting teams dressing room, which made it very chaotic, especially when spectators who were unable to gain entrance into the stadium during the match, were forcing their way through the same visiting teams’ room gates. Likewise, the press and players of the four teams were not allocated a special gate entrance as is the case during some grand finales.

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