Despite the uproar over refereeing in the PSL, chairperson of the ref's committee, Anastasia Tsichlas, tells Timothy Molobi that action should be taken against the league's members, including clubs and coaches
In another week when coaches once again lashed out at the standard of officiating, Safa has come out in support of match officials, saying they are only human.
Just this week, two coaches – Benni McCarthy and Steve Komphela – once again joined the chorus of those complaining about match officials.
“The referee [Abongile Tom] was terrible‚ he might as well have just put on a Kaizer Chiefs shirt‚” said McCarthy after his side’s loss to Chiefs in a Telkom Knockout Last 16 fixture last weekend.
Referring to Jelly Chavani, who handled the Golden Arrows versus Polokwane City Telkom Knockout clash last Saturday, Komphela said: “The referee was disrespectful and I can never allow that. The manner he was communicating with me, we can never allow such in our game, regardless of his job. He must learn to respect coaches, period. He’s probably in his late twenties, I didn’t like his attitude.”
However, despite severe criticism early on in the season, Safa has only received three official complaints, according to Anastasia Tsichlas, the chairperson of Safa’s referees committee.
This week, Tsichlas came out with guns blazing, urging the PSL to take action against its members – clubs and coaches.
The veteran administrator said it was unnecessary for coaches to use match officials as scapegoats and get away with it.
She said that, as much as Safa was sanctioning erring match officials, the league should also throw the book at coaches for bringing the game into disrepute.
Although Tsichlas acknowledged that match officials had dropped the ball in some instances, she argued that they had been spot on in most of their decisions.
In fact, she said, according to their statistics and reports, referees got it right 90% of the time, and this was encouraging and should be applauded.
“Yes, we agree that we are not perfect, but we are not too bad either,” Tsichlas told City Press.
“Each and every game, we always get perfect officiating. Sometimes they miss certain fouls or offside calls, but it is very rare that they miss important issues or make the kind of wrong decisions that have a negative effect on the outcome of the game.
“That’s how football goes – you can never have a perfect game. Team officials, players, coaches or match officials will make mistakes. As long it is human error and does not affect the outcome of the game,” she said.
“But, of course, we have had instances when they got it wrong, hence we have acted on those officials.”
The former Mamelodi Sundowns owner said she was hoping to see coaches who were always on referees’ cases also get punished.
“To them, there is nothing good that our referees do, and this is so wrong and unacceptable. They always hide behind match officials.”
She also pleaded with the public to support match officials, saying they were working under tremendous pressure.
“It is very difficult to be a referee because all eyes are on you all the time. They have to be motivated and not always be judged on their mistakes. They are human beings and have given up their family lives because they are away on assignments every weekend.”
She said she was happy with the strides that the referees’ department had made in addressing their shortcomings.
“Sometimes it is easy to blame somebody, in this case the referees, for your mistakes. Some coaches are an embarrassment as they don’t even know the rules of the game, but they have so much to say.”
Tsichlas said she felt the frustrations of club bosses because “I was there also and was the worst critic”.
“I feel what they sometimes go through because I have been there, hence I won’t allow referees to get away with murder. I suffered most daylight robberies during my time at Sundowns and I know how it feels to be in their position.
“But I also know how coaches behave as they try to buy their bosses’ faces. I’m still to meet a coach who will own up to his or her mistake – it is always about the next person.”
Tsichlas said she had confidence in the different referees’ subcommittees, particularly in the men and women serving on those panels.
“We have assembled some of our best former officials to steer the ship in the right direction and we can see where we are going. The likes of Jerome [Damon], Enock [Molefe], Ari [Soldatos] and Didiza [Ngutshana] have officiated at the highest level, and bring a wealth of experience with them.”
She said the review committee was working non-stop to speed up their cases – sometimes meeting up to three times a week.
“The turnaround time has to change so that we get to decisions quickly and move on. But sometimes we are hampered by a lack of DVDs and damaged or incomplete footage. It’s even worse with NFD matches as we sometimes only get highlights,” said Tsichlas.