Kano Pillars hit with ₦5m penalty for Covid-19 protocol breach during top-of-the-table clash
Kano Pillars have been handed a fine of ₦5m for violating Covid-19 protocol during their top-of-the-table clash with Akwa United on Sunday.
In addition to the fine, Pillars have been hit with a suspended three-point NPFL deduction after they failed to adhere to Nigeria Football Federation Covid-19 directives.
A ₦2.5m penalty has also been imposed on the club for the misbehaviour of their fans during the matchday 27 fixture.
A League Management Company statement read: “Kano Pillars have been charged for breaching the NPFL Framework & Rules following the infraction in their Matchday 27 fixture vs Akwa Utd at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna on Sunday, June 13, 2021.
“The Kano club have been charged for breaching the COVID-19 Protocol by admitting and/or permitting spectators and supporters into the venue.
“Pillars are also charged for encroachment after their supporters encroached onto the field of play, thereby disrupting the match.
“The club are further charged for failing to provide adequate leading to failure in crowd control & restriction of access by unauthorized persons to restricted areas.
“In line with The Nigeria Football Federation directives, Kano Pillars are hereby sanctioned with a fine of N5 million for breaching the COVID-19 Protocol.
“A fine of N2.5 million is also imposed on Kano Pillars for encroachment by their supporters, which led to a discontinuation of the match.
“There is also an imposed sanction of a deduction of 3 points, which shall be suspended for the duration of the remainder of the season, subject to good conduct.”
Ibrahim Musa’s side also face the prospect of being banished from their makeshift homeground Ahmadu Bello Stadium “if there is a recurring event”.
The club have until Wednesday to provide their responses.
Last week, following video evidence that some clubs were allowing fans into their stadiums during league matches, the Nigeria Football Federation had reminded the national league bodies and clubs that the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 directive — which banned fans from attending sports events — was still in force.
“We are, by this letter, directing you to reiterate to your official Clubs and Match Commissioners to observe what is a presidential directive. Henceforth, Match Commissioners and other officials are not to sanction the commencement of a football match without ensuring that there are no spectators at the venue in question,” the NFF said in a letter copied to all national league bodies, adding that, “host Clubs must make their best efforts to ensure that match venues are shorn of spectators/fans before the commencement of any match.”
The NFF went further to spell out punishments that would be meted out to clubs and officials should they breach the rules, stating: “Violation of these [Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19] directives would be severely dealt with. For sure, host Clubs that open their gates will be judged to have failed in their responsibilities and would be declared to have lost the game in question by three goals and three points, while the Match Commissioner would also be suspended indefinitely. Further sanctions could apply.”
Despite the directive, thousands of Pillars fans were allowed into the stadium on Sunday.
Nyima Nwagua looked to have broken the deadlock when he headed in from close range in the 87th minute, but the centre referee — who had initially signalled for a goal — chalked it off for offside after consulting his assistant, much to the protest of Pillars fans.
With fans creating chaotic scenes, policemen were called in to restore normalcy.
Relative calm did return after a while, but the Match Commissioner, having deemed conditions unsafe for the tie to continue, decided to discontinue the match.
The game resumed on Monday morning, and Akwa United — who went into the fixture with a point clear at the top of the standings — saw out the remaining minutes to secure a point and extend their unbeaten run to 17 matches.
Meanwhile, the LMC has been widely criticised for the penalties handed down to Pillars for the offences, with many deeming them mild.
“I am against that fine. Pillars deserves worst fine. I had hoped that they are fined 100million naira only and a 20point deducted from them to serve as deterrent to other club,” Chukwudi Onuh wrote as a reaction to the LMC’s sanctions to the Kano club.
Another NPFL follower, Ibrahim K. Oyekanmi, added: “Anyone Who truly loves Nigerian football and wishes good for us would hope for strict sanctions
Chris Bangrano Murtagh was furious at the LMC’s decision to hand Pillars a suspended three-point deduction, writing: “Hold on. A suspended 3 points deduction…so you aren’t even punishing them. What an absolute disgrace of an organisation you lot are.”
“All this nepotism and tribalism will lead Us nowhere.”