PREAMBLE AND INTRODUCTION:
As Nigeria’s professional football league kicks off this weekend, Sir Dr. Amos Agwamba, Veteran Star Referee of FIFA Standard write on the Duty, role and functions of Match Commissioner.
A Match Commissioner (MC) in the context of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) fits in to Law 6 of International Football Association Board (IFAB) as implemented by the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA). Here in “Other match officials” as listed are Assistant Referees, Video Assistant Referees (VAR). Permit me to add Match Commissioner and Referee Assessors. Duty, role and functions are synonymous and almost mean the same thing.
Match Commissioner (MC) is somebody appointed and authorized to carry out prescribed functions and duties by an organizing body – Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Nigeria Football Referees Association (NRA), State Football Association, State Football Referee Council and down the line to the Referees Societies in the Local Governments.
A Match Commissioner is the Administrative Head in any match appointments. His duties are different from the Referee Assessor who takes care of the Technical Assessment of the Referees.
Furthermore the Match Commissioner is as well an “Ambassador” of the Committee/body that appointed him/her, hence his/her allegiance to the body. MC’s appointment is based on underlying tones of assessment, respect, professionalism, trust and integrity. Retired Referees, Football Administrators, retired Footballers and Football Coaches make up the list of Match Commissioners.
In most cases above category of appointees extend to political associates and friends of Football governing bodies.
DUTIES, ROLE AND FUNCTIONS
1.The duties of Match Commissioner firstly is on receipt of the appointment he/she is to review the match the venue, the referees as well as familiarize oneself to the rules and regulations of the competition. The laws of the game are sacrosanct.
2. Next the MC makes travel arrangement that will guarantee at last 24hour cushion before the match. This depends on distance. How does he/she go? (Air or by road).
3. On arrival at the venue of the match the MC contacts the host FA to get a debriefing thus –
a. Has the opposing team arrived? b. Where are they staying (Hotel)
c. What of the Referees and their hotel rooms as it is expected you and they will be in the same hotel. d. What of the State of the pitch.
e. What of the time and venue of pre-match meeting as well as transportation to and fro the pre-match venue and the stadium.
4. Pre-Match Meeting: Match Commissioner superintends over the Pre-Match Meeting before or on the morning of the day of the match. Field should be inspected after the pre-match meeting.
5. Match Proper: MC shall arrive the stadium at least 90 minutes before the kick off.
6a. At the stadium, MC re-inspect the pitch with the referees and decides whether any modification are needed. Pitch panels, boards, protection of the right of sponsors, loud speakers, score board, flood light, security checks, First Aid and Ambulance services, Media, Banners and flags as well as balls. Same as security checks in front of the entrance, and the Police unit.
b. Visit each team 65 minutes with the Referees in their dressing rooms before the kick off.
c. Check on equipment, the teams colour as already prescribed during pre-match meeting.
d. Collect team list before you release the teams for warm up.
e. Psyche the Referees up in their dressing room.
f. Supervise the Referees warm up and recall them to the dressing room 20 minutes to the kick off.
g. If any Guest of honour is expected ensure early come back of the Referees for protocol procedures photo calls etc and prayers.
h. Ensure that Reserve players and officials take their seats on the teams benches before the team enters the field. Ensure that only substitute players and 7 teams officials sit on the substitution bench.
i. Only the Coach or another designated is allowed to stand beside the bench. Only one person at a time is authorized to convey tactical instructions and must return.
j. Ensure that the physiotherapist, or doctor enters the pitch only with the Referees permission to assess any injured player. Except the Goal Keepers no player is treated on the field of play unless the Referee decides based on the severity of the injury.
6. LOCATION AND SITTING POSITION
a. During the match proper the MC shall sit in the VIP Box, which affords the best overall view of the stadium/pitch to enable him/her assess happening on the pitch and spectators stands.
b. For proper protocol arrangement especially when the Governor/representatives are physically present, MC should be properly sitted next to the Guest of Honour after leading him/her for ceremonial kick off.
7. AT THE END OF THE MATCH
a. After the teams and officials have evacuated the field, MC joins the Referees and Referees Assessor to the dressing room.
b. After the match, collect tapes and assist the media with post match interviews.
c. Depending on the Mass Communication facilities available at the venues of the match (Fax, phone, whatsapp etc) you must make a preliminary report back to the Co-ordinators/body that appointed MC without delay.
d. Endeavour to leave the stadium after the 2 teams or preferably in a motorcade to avert any ugly incident.
e. Based on the latest Mass Communication and ICT ensure that you send your report to the organizer from your mail box/courier outfit with the tape. Make sure you have a photocopy of your report.
8. PAYMENT OF INDEMNITY. Ensure the match officials are paid their indemnities or MC collects their bank account details to remit same if not sent earlier.
Go back safely and pray for another match.