The Safa’s referees’ committee must just admit it: officiating has reached a crisis level.
The rate at which the PSL prosecutor has been dishing out letters to coaches “in relation to the comments on match officials” is not necessarily a demonstration of the league showing its fangs – but beneath this lies a bigger problem of poor officiating.
For every problem, there should be a solution.
The weekly bashing of match officials by PSL coaches and fans alike won’t help matters as this will only turn the referees into personae non gratae.
In a country famous for establishing commissions at the drop of a hat, I don’t see why a referees’ indaba can’t be proposed as a matter of urgency.
This can take place during one of the Fifa international breaks.
The national referees’ body can then use this forum to address the key stakeholders of the game – all the PSL coaches (including those who are part of the system in the lower ranks), as well as the sponsors and the media as part of the audience.
This will go a long way towards breaking what has become an “us (clubs) and them (match officials)” syndrome.
For starters, not much is known about how the referees’ review committee operates and how many cases are dealt with on the occasions this body convenes for reviews.
I found the national referees’ body to have trampled on the spirit of fair play this week after their swift response to one incident amid a public outcry.
Are we going to see incidents involving the so-called small clubs being made public, like the verdict of the review on a Kaizer Chiefs goal that Mamelodi Sundowns had protested should not have been allowed?
Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane might be accused of having overstepped with his protests, but the referees’ committee did not cover itself in glory either as it has set the wrong precedent by publishing just one outcome of a review.
We wonder if the reviews on the Highlands Park versus Orlando Pirates and Bloemfontein Celtic versus SuperSport United league matches midweek will be made public. Both games had a goal scored from a clear offside position.
To their credit, the committee has sanctioned some of the errant officials in recent times, but it remains a mystery why the decisive action is mostly centred on matches featuring the so-called big clubs.
South African football authorities often make us believe that they measure themselves against international standards, but the aforementioned inconsistencies paint a different picture.
The slow pace of the PSL judiciary wing is worrying as the league’s disciplinary committee is again taking too long to deal with the offenders.
Only this week, the league charged Sundowns’ Gastón Sirino with bringing the game into disrepute after an incident in which the player allegedly slapped SuperSport United midfielder Dean Furman. Wait for it, the incident happened on September 18.
A fortnight ago, Cape Town City midfielder Mpho Makola committed one of the worst crimes in football when he appeared to manhandle referee Abongile Tom. The PSL pronounced only this week that Makola has been charged with misconduct and assault following his actions during the televised Telkom Knockout Last 16 game that City lost to Chiefs on October 19.
There was a similar incident in the Italian Serie A last week when Fiorentina striker Franck Ribery shoved the assistant referee but the player was punished in a matter of few hours after the incident.
The former French international was handed a three-match ban and fined €20 000 (R337 000) for “gravely disrespectful behaviour towards the match official”.
It is differences in competencies like the aforementioned incidents that make us wonder if we even have the capacity to implement new mechanisms of the game like the video assistant referee (VAR) system in local football.
Instead of dwelling too much on the VAR, a feasible exercise that the national referees’ body could pursue is the professionalisation of the referees.
Most of them still rely on day jobs and only officiate part time. At the end of the day, there is a lot at stake for everyone involved in football and just one component can’t spoil it. ‘Solution’ should be the buzzword in this ongoing crisis.
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