The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has disclosed the reasons behind the exclusion of Nigerian referees from officiating in the Africa Cup of Nations and other football tournaments on the continent.

Noumandiez Doue, the Head of Refereeing at CAF, stated during a referees training session at Sol Beni in Abidjan on Thursday that Nigerian referees are competent but emphasized the need for them to make additional efforts to meet the standards required.

For 18 consecutive years, Nigerian referees have not been chosen as officials for the biennial competition, sparking debates among football stakeholders in the country. The absence of Nigerian referees from the released lists for the ongoing 2023 Total Energies Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire in 2024 drew criticism from Nigerian football fans in September.

In response, Doue stated that CAF selects referees based on being the best on the continent, emphasizing a criterion of excellence rather than settling for average officials.

He said, “You have good referees in Nigeria and to come to AFCON you have to be the best.

“Good referees are for the Zones, you have to be the best to come to the CAF competitions.

“Nigeria referees are improving but they need to do more to be among the best because the selection has started in the last one and a half years.

“We are in the scouting process of evaluating and to the end of selection.

“We have different stages, you start from young talent to elite B, elite A, and professional, it’s among the elite B we picked for the AFCON.”

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