We let our country down – referees

2011-08-13 18:50

Top local referees Daniel Bennett and Jerome Damon have told City Press that they not only let themselves down but the ­entire nation by failing the ­international fitness test.

As a consequence, the Fifa-accredited ­whistlemen will have to wait for two months to try and reclaim their positions on both the international and national referees’ panels.

This will only happen if they pass the next Fifa test in Malawi next month– for which they will have to pay the travelling expenses from their own pockets.

Bennett and Damon failed to complete the international fitness test this month, which is a pre-requisite to be included in the national panel that officiates in local football matches.

The Fifa tests they underwent included short accelerated laps totalling 40 metres and ­interval runs, which are a minimum of 10 laps and a maximum of 12 rounds.

“I am disappointed that I let the nation down. It was not a fitness issue but just a psychological thing that I failed,” said ­Bennett, who failed to make the panel for the first time in 12 years since he first officiated in the professional ranks.

Damon, one of the referees in the 2010 Fifa World Cup said: “There is still a lot of miles in these legs and on the day it was not about fitness – the psychology was not there. But the first thing I did was to apologise to Safa for letting the country down. We have not been discarded as there is a re-run test (next month).”

He said he only managed seven of the 40m-lap exercise.

Safa national referees committee ­chairperson Alpha Mchunu said: “We are ­embarrassed that they did not make it.

But there is no room for any slip-ups as they risk dropping their Fifa badges. So they have the ­mandatory six weeks to recover until the next test, which will be in Malawi in ­September.”

As a result, the two school teachers will not officiate in any PSL, Caf or Fifa fixtures ­until they comply with the fitness ­requirements.

Lwandile Mfiki made the national panel ­after passing the tests in the Eastern Cape last month but may not officiate in ­international matches.

Safa head of referees Adeel Carelse said: “It is a big wake-up call to all the referees and unfortunately we can’t bend the rules.”

Carelse and Mchunu said they were also ­excited at the results of the development of young officials and female referees.

Seven new match officials – three referee and four assistant referees – were developed in the Vodacom League while two female ­referees, Sebabatso Malope and Noeleen ­Daniels, also made the cut.

The new panel saw the return of referees Charl Theron who has been reinstated after he passed the mandatory tests.

Veterans Abdul Ebrahim, Faick Daniels and Steven Moshotle have retired from active ­officiating.

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