I could start off this column by changing the wording of British prime minister Winston Churchill when he said during World War 2: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much been owed by so many to so few.”
Let me try it another way and say: “
Does that feel okay? I’m talking about match officials who bear the brunt and the ire of the players, managers, coaches, fans and sometimes even the media.
I must also state at this stage, lest it be forgotten, that law 5 of the Fifa laws of the game clearly states: “The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play, including whether or not a goal is scored, and the result of the match are final.”
It goes on to say:
To put it plainly, the referee’s decision is final!
I don’t want to get mired in this controversy too much as I didn’t see the whole controversial Ghana versus Bafana game last Sunday.
There’s already a protest lodged with Fifa and CAF by Safa. It would be unfair of me also to condemn, or even criticise, the match official for the reasons already mentioned.
Suffice it to say that from the rather blurred short video clip that appeared on social media and was subsequently sent to me by various media outlets, it seemed a very soft penalty awarded to Ghana.
In all fairness to the referee, he was no more than 10m from the incident and in a perfect position to witness any indiscretion by the South African player. And also in all fairness, the referee had no hesitation in awarding the penalty.
So, one has to assume that he saw an infringement that warranted a penalty kick.
Okay, let’s try to analyse what happened. In my opinion, there are two possible scenarios.
Firstly, was the Ghanaian player pushed, albeit lightly, in the back by the South African player?
Secondly, did the South African player tug on the Ghanian player’s shirt?
I also watched a video clip of former PSL and Fifa referee Ace Ncobo on SuperSport this week. Ncobo said he identified at least 45 decisions in the first half and went on to break them down as being correct and incorrect.
This is grossly unfair of Ncobo and I hope he’s not playing to his audience.
I remember our national team, the Republic of Ireland, also being knocked out in the World Cup qualifying stages by France when Thierry Henry handled the ball in our penalty area to control it and passed it to a team-mate who scored.
That was the winning goal, which meant France went to the 2010 World Cup finals here in South Africa and we lost out.
What was more sickening was that Henry had the audacity to come and apologise to our players at the final whistle.
Why didn’t he confess his guilt to the referee?
The Football Association of Ireland also appealed to Fifa, giving unambiguous video footage showing the incident.
Fifa threw it out because, back then, there was no video assistant referee and therefore the video footage was inadmissible.
Safa’s only chance of having its complaint succeed is if it can proven that the referee deliberately manipulated the outcome of the game – as was the case in the 2016 game against Senegal.
Otherwise, as mentioned earlier, the ref’s decision is final!
Please stay safe and well out there. This pandemic is not over yet. Protect yourselves and your families, and observe all medical and scientific advice. No one is safe until everyone is safe.
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