Pressing Issues: Men in black, beware!

2013-03-03 10:00

Once more, as the Absa Premiership hits the home straight, focus will be on the men in black.

And, no, I don’t mean movie stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, who have already starred in three blockbuster movies of the same name, but those men in the middle during a soccer match.

The ones about whom the late, great Drum writer Casey Motsisi wrote in his famous piece The

Crazy Thing Called Sport: “And

to add confusion to the whole mess of 22 grown-up men chasing a pigskin, there is that man in black who tries to bring some normality to the craziness.”

With the match-fixing cloud still hanging over South African soccer and the Absa Premiership once more petering down to the final 10 matches of the 2012/13 season, referees will once more be under scrutiny, with noises coming from coaches, players and fans.

Noises have already started, with Orlando Pirates mentor Roger de Sa – one who has never shied away from saying what he thinks of these guys – taking a jibe at Phillip Tinyani who officiated in their 3-2 loss to Moroka Swallows midweek.

For good measure, one must add that The Dube Birds came back from two goals down for this victory.

De Sa quipped that he would have taken the referee off the pitch after 10 minutes if he was a player.

I’d rather leave that comment for you to interpret.

But men in black, beware! You’ve been warned and that’s all I can say.

We will be inundated with pronouncements such as “even a blind man would have seen that was a penalty” and all sorts of protestations coming from all quarters.

Referees need to be tough but they also need to ensure that they stick to the book, and apply the rules with no favour or bias.

Having tried my luck at kicking the pigskin around, albeit no further than the amateur ranks, I know how it feels to play your heart out only to be on the losing side at the end of the day.

The feeling was made worse when you were part of the better side but were at the end of some, or several, dubious calls.

With millions of maphepha (rands) now involved in the game, the feeling must even be more devastating.

Those in charge must drive the point home that fair play is now even more imperative.

While the men in black need to play their role, players and coaches alike need to keep their end of the bargain by ensuring that they do not use dubious means to hoodwink referees.

We have seen a lot of play-acting in trying to get penalties or other players booked, ending in them being sent off.

Let’s cut out all this unnecessary stuff, for the good of the game.

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