I have no doubt that you are aware of the enormous controversy regarding the penalty kick that was not awarded to Orlando Pirates in their recent derby game against archrivals Kaizer Chiefs. This happened last weekend at the home of the Buccaneers in Orlando Stadium.
It’s rare that a game of this magnitude would pass without some controversy or other, and I’ve refereed many of them.
Every minute action by the referee – and his assistants, for that matter – would be scrutinised and debated long after the final whistle.
This one was no exception. And so it came to pass.
For those of you who are not living on planet Earth, or who are under some rock in the desert, let me explain briefly what happened.
I’m not going to mention individual players’ names – just the players by the team they play for.
A Pirates player was allegedly fouled inside the Chiefs penalty area and the referee refused to award a penalty, despite strong and vocal protestations from the Pirates players and their supporters.
This is natural, you would say, since it appeared to the untrained eye that all the ingredients were there to be awarded a “spot kick”.
I was then invited on to Robert Marawa’s show on Metro FM to give my opinion. Since I cannot get SuperSport here in Ireland, I was depending on short, and sometimes not very clear video footage of the incident.
Yes, it appeared that the Chiefs player had grabbed the Pirates player around the waist and pulled him to the ground. That’s what the “still” photo showed. Very convincing, indeed, but we all know that well-worn phrase – a picture paints a thousand words.
Then there’s the actual “live” footage, and this tells a completely different story. In my opinion, there was contact between the two and certainly the Chiefs player did appear to have his hands in contact with the Pirates player who subsequently fell to the ground.
Now this is where I have a major problem. All to often today in professional football, players are adopting a “winning mentality”.
In simple terms, that means win at all costs and if that means cheating, diving, and indulging in forms of deception to hoodwink the referee, then so be it.
Many of you will remember me from my time in the middle. I never shied away from making what many considered controversial decisions, regardless of who was playing or the importance of the game. I would dish out red cards whenever it was necessary, to whomever deserved it. Likewise, I would award penalties when, in my opinion, it was also necessary.
I’ve been abused, insulted and assaulted during my time with the whistle, but I would never allow myself to be influenced or intimidated by anyone, and I mean anyone.
Diving is becoming an epidemic.
The amount of shenanigans and skulduggery in the modern game is nothing short of disgraceful. I can understand why some players and managers would engage in such unsavoury activity. Winning can be very lucrative.
Likewise, losing can cost a lot of money, but the simple honesty has completely evaporated from the game, and it isn’t nearly the amazing spectacle it was some years ago.
When you have players at some clubs earning £600 000 (R12 million) a week, it’s not surprising that such activity will not only take place, but is allegedly being actively encouraged.
The bottom line is that the ref’s decision is final and law 5 clearly states that “in the opinion of the referee” still applies. He has the final say and the laws of the game allow him to make those decisions. Unless it’s a “clear and obvious error”, and that can only be determined by the video assistant referee, his decision is final.
. Follow me on Twitter @dr_errol