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Despite CAF snubs, Nigerian referees will officiate at AFCON, World Cup in 2026 says NRA President Zubairu

Persecondnews recalls that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) released 68 names of match officials for the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations without a single Nigerian arbiter on duty.

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The non-representation of Nigerian referees at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Abidjan is giving the Nigerian Referee Association (NRA) worry, and it has taken steps to redress it in future championships.

The President of the NRA, Sani Zubairu, described it as inconceivable that the Nigerian referees have no representation.

He told Persecondnews in Abuja on Monday in an exclusive interview that the association has taken steps to ensure that Nigerian match officials feature in the next AFCON and World Cup in 2026.

According to Zubairu, the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), under the direction of Ibrahim Gusau, and the Minister of Sports have pledged their support for funding and promoting the development of referees in the nation.

Persecondnews recalls that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) released 68 names of match officials for the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations without a single Nigerian arbiter on duty.

Of the 26 match referees, 30 assistant referees, and 12 video assistant referees (VAR) listed by CAF, all Nigerian referees, including our FIFA-badged officials, were conveniently snubbed.

This is not the first time CAF has overlooked Nigerian referees for continental duties in the last couple of years.

The NRA President said: “We cannot say CAF snubbed the Nigeria referees; CAF has been using our referees during other CAF-organised competitions.

“The Ministry of Sports is collaborating with the NFF to support the training and development of Nigerian referees so they can be on par with their international counterparts.

“I can categorically tell you that there are strategic steps being taken by the Ministry of Sports led by Sen. John Owan Enoh and Gusau to ensure that we have match officials in the next AFCON and the World Cup in 2026 that will be hosted by the USA, Canada, and Mexico.

“The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) is currently not in operation in Nigeria’s domestic games, Persecond News reports.

Zubairu said they have plans to train and introduce VAR into the Nigerian domestic league, noting that this will help in the development of the beautiful game in Nigeria and also improve the standard of officiating in the league and reduce the margin for errors.

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