Match referees blowing anger at employer Safa

2012-06-02 16:30

Local match officials are up in arms with their employer, SA Football Association (Safa), over an appointment policy which they argue compromises their integrity.

They are unhappy after referee Zolile Mthetho was replaced at the 11th hour for last Saturday’s Nedbank Cup final between rivals SuperSport United and Mamelodi Sundowns. This was after his name was leaked to the media a day before the match.

Two other officials, Daniel Bennett, who was supposed to be the fourth official, and assistant referee Edward Madidilane, were also replaced. It is also said that two senior referees refused to officiate the match after they were approached at the last minute.

They (two senior referees) say their refusal was in solidarity with Mthetho who flew all the way from Eastern Cape to be appointed the fourth official.

The match was handled by Soweto resident Gabriel Sokopo after Jerome Damon and Thabo Nkosi said they were not available.

“This is happening because of a notion that we are corrupt,” said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation.

“We have cleaned up our image but they (Safa) still treat us with disdain.”

He said it was standard practice worldwide for referees’ names to be made public before matches and the same should apply here.

The referees have vowed to raise this issue with Safa before their yearly workshop next month.

“We want senior officials to have a meeting with the association to raise things we are not happy about and this issue tops the list,” said the official. “It’s a pity we no longer have people representing us as they should be dealing with these issues.”

It was not the first time this has happened as referee Robert Sithole was taken off the MTN8 final and replaced by Victor Hlungwani at the last minute.

He was badly affected by the situation and subsequently had a shocker in his next assignment when he handled a Bidvest Wits-Sundowns league match at Mbombela Stadium in September.

Lwandile Mfiki was also taken off from a Soweto Derby between champions Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.

Safa’s head of referees Adeel Carelse said they were looking at other means of dealing with the appointment of referees in the future.

He, however, said last week’s changing of officials was done in the interest of the officials and to protect their image.

“Imagine if Mthetho had committed a simple error which might have influenced the outcome of the game, there would have been a lot of backlash.

“We don’t have the same practices like in England (English Premiership) where we can name officials beforehand, but we are working on something,” he said.

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