Pressing Issues: Balls of steel

2014-02-23 10:00

You should have figured out by now that I admire men with balls of steel. So my love for local referee Victor Gomes should not come as a surprise.

I’m impressed by the man and the way he goes about his business. He is decisive and stands by his decisions. Love him or hate him, he is a tough man and I admire him for that.

The reigning Absa Premiership Referee of the Year takes swift and final decisions just as the rule book stipulates “the referee’s decision shall be final”.

He doesn’t seem to be one to make the common, lame excuse that the referee has to make quick decisions and unlike television viewers does not have the benefit of replays.

Not this man. He calls it as he sees it and that’s it. And I admire him for that.

He has brought back some respectability to the trade of refereeing. How often have we seen players argue with referees and even go to the extent of getting physical with them (think here of Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling in last Sunday’s FA Cup tie against Arsenal)?

Why, the scrawny Sterling was not intimidated by the presence of the imposing figure of feared English referee Howard Webb and even laid a hand on his chest.

Do you think if it was Gomes, Sterling would have seen out the 90 minutes? Not a chance. The debate now revolves around whether he was right to award eight penalties in two matches.

Gomes set the cat among the pigeons by pointing to the spot three times during the Golden Arrows vs Polokwane City match last week and followed that up with five in the Mamelodi Sundowns vs Ajax Cape Town match on Saturday night.

He really set tongues wagging and was trending on social networks. From where I was seated, I think he got four right, but not the one where Sundowns’ Bongani Zungu was tackled outside the box but fell inside.

But even then, he didn’t hesitate and called it as he saw it at the time – again proving his decisiveness.

My contribution to the ensuing debate is that in all my years of covering the beautiful game, I am yet to see a law that puts a limit on the number of penalties a referee can award in a single match.

If a match is sloppy, it’s sloppy – get my drift?

Gomes is the man who, as reported by my colleague Daniel Mothowagae two years ago, issued a total of 161 cards in all competitions in the Absa Premiership and the National First Division during the 2010/11 season alone.

Mothowagae went further to report: “According to the Premier Soccer League referees’ fixture history report, Gomes flashed 151 yellow cards and sent off 10 players in the 29 matches that he officiated in.

In one match?...?Gomes?...?booked nine players and sent off the Stars duo of defender Rudiger Gilbert and Paulus Masehe.”

A real no-nonsense man indeed. In a time when players are spoilt and some think they are bigger

than the game, I say football needs more officials like Gomes – those who will lay down the law in a way that players know exactly why they are on the field. Maybe such referees will encourage players to ditch the theatrics that have become so common and just play – showcase their God-given talent and forget about politics, arguing with match officials and trying to break each others’ bones.

We need someone who will lay down the law and read the riot act to these spoilt brats.

Being the way he is, Gomes will surely make many enemies. But as I can attest, he’ll also make a good number of friends.

I just wish his decisiveness can rub off on some of the poor sods at the South African football headquarters in Nasrec.

Our football would be so much better if more decisions were taken, implemented and followed through, rather than deferred.

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