Referees’ job full of drama, controversy

2015-06-10 06:00
Moeti Molelekoa Social Observer

Moeti Molelekoa Social Observer

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AFTER a hectic season full of drama, controversy, record-breaking incidents and moments of madness, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) season has just ended and we are in recess.

As is always the case, referees made their way into the headlines, for mostly the wrong reasons.

We were often exposed to some of the most atrocious decisions by some of the middle-men. They need to be properly trained and well paid in order to compete with some of the best in the world.

The South African Football Association (Safa) has been urged by those interested in the game of football to have an effective review committee which must police match officials, referees and assistant referees. The review committee should punish those guilty of inconsistent performance and controversial decision-making.

Refereeing is the toughest job in the world of sport. Referees are often scorned by players and fans. The lonely official has the reward of being a winner every time.

It does not matter how famous the players are or how unpopular their decisions, they need to get the job done. It takes a special breed of people to excel in this toughest job in sport.

Expertise alone is not enough in this industry. No one in any sport endures more pressure and needs greater discipline than the plucky men and women who take charge of soccer matches.

Referees, umpires and judges must be superbly skilled to interpret over 100 pages of rules in the spur of the moment.

Sometimes an official has to be something of a detective to notice players’ many tricks. In most cases in football, a player will dive to purposely deceive the man in black in the slightest of infringements to win a penalty or free-kick.

Referees need speed and agility to keep up with the pace of the game. Also, officials have to be detectives to notice the players’ varied dodges.

Slow-motion video recordings, as well as analytic comments from experts, give viewers the advantage of a clear picture of what had actually happened at the particular moment. Officials have to retain unbelievable composure while absorbing psychological and verbal punishment.

When soccer referee Stanley Swart sent off a Kaizer Chiefs player in a hotly-contested match against Wits University (Bidvest Wits) at the Orlando Stadium, Chiefs supporters were incensed.

Swarts, his assistants and Wits players had to be escorted from the stadium by the police.

Referee Ephraim Motsoane was stabbed in the back, presumably with a knife by a spectator, during a fixture between AmaZulu and Highlands Park in the 1980’s. After being discharged from hospital, he returned to refereeing, suggesting that television cameras be used routinely to overrule or even to correct officials in the interests of precision and accuracy.

However, Fifa’s president, Sepp Blatter, would have none of it. We often see officials who overrule protesting players and fans with a broad smile. That is one of the tactics and a diplomatic way to cool the situation.

In a key soccer match between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, referee Rodger Stonehouse ruled Pirates offside. Irate fans showered him with everything they could lay their hands on.

Stonehouse picked up one of the projectiles – it was a piece of peanut-chocolate. He peeled off the wrapper and ate it.

The rising tension in the stands dissolved instantly.) To comment or express your views about the issue highlighted in the column, go to www.express-news.co.za. Express Goldfields andamp; NFS welcomes anyone interested in contributing to the weekly column as public observers or citizen journalists. There is no payment for writers.) Send your opinion piece in English or Sotho (not exceeding 500 words) to teboho.setena@volksblad.com

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