Heartland face sanctions for crowd trouble, ref assault

By George Akpayen

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Photo: LMC Media
Photo: LMC Media

Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) side Heartland face a heavy sanction following crowd trouble and assault on the referee during their match against Plateau United on Monday.

The match ended 1-1 at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri with Tosin Omoyele’s late goal cancelling out a first half strike by Abiodun Thompson for Heartland.

After the game, fans poured onto the pitch and manhandled the referee from Kano, Yusuf Garba and left him with injuries before policemen intervened.

Heartland’s defence

The Owerri club have put up a defence over the crowd trouble at their stadium on Monday and a bizarre one too. The club issued a statement on Tuesday claiming that the referee “marred the game” with his decisions by making “several questionable calls.”

Heartland further claimed that the referee “had a premeditated motive to favour the away team,” adding that this led to a charged atmosphere at the stadium in Owerri during the game. However the Naze Millionaires did not condemn the attack on the referee rather wants the “League Management Company (LMC) and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to do the needful and faster to save this country’s league from disrepute.”

Plateau United chip in

The away team Plateau United also released a statement of theirs on Tuesday and claimed that Heartland and the Imo State FA did not protect their players and officials as well as the referees. The NPFL champions further asserted that one of their players Peter Eneji was injured in the melee while their backroom staff of Jonah Dadyiam, Dan Kakwi and Abel Iliya were also attacked.

Plateau United then alleged that their head coach Kennedy Boboye was attacked at the stadium and further “waylaid and attacked for the second time on his way to Port Harcourt by suspected Heartland fans who apparently were angry with the draw.”

The champions have called on the LMC to punish Heartland.

Previous offences by Heartland

Heartland’s offence have however piled up and could face points deduction or banishment from their Dan Anyiam Stadium and possibly both with monetary fine as well.

Earlier in the season, the Naze Millionaires breached the league rules in their first game of the season against Sunshine Stars and the league body fined them for a fee of N1 million “for failing to control the crowd and ensure adequate security in their Matchday 1 game.”

In 2016 when the club were relegated to the second tier, they were handed a suspended points deduction for crowd trouble in their game against FC Ifeanyiubah at the same Dan Anyiam Stadium. They were also fined N4.75 million and made to play their next three home matches behind closed doors.

However the suspended points deduction of 2016 was a “subject to a probationary period of the remainder of the season” at that time.

Thepredictorng.com understands that Heartland will be charged this week by the LMC following the disturbance on Monday

© The Predictor NG

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