Eight years ago, I offered my opinion on referees and the more things change, the more they stay the same.
After reading through this, let me know if anything has changed with our referees.
“I think the League has previously barked up the wrong tree in their attempts to stop the rot with regards to poor refereeing, because investigations into allegations of bribery such as Operation Dribble and the Semenya Commission shouldn’t, in my opinion, have been the first step in trying to rid the game of corruption or poor refereeing.
In my view, the first step should have been, or should be, fully implementing the referees’ professional structure without further delay.
The truth is, many teams have been on the receiving end of some form of referees’ poor decision-making and therefore, the assumption that bad refereeing stems solely from corruption, is to some extent a misguided view and perhaps that could explain why Operation Dribble, which was launched in 2004, wasn’t a success.
We should take note of what Platinum Stars coach Owen da Gama said after their match against Bloemfontein Celtic on 19 February at the Moruleng stadium, where Lwandile Mfiki adjudged Mbulelo Mabizela to have handled the ball in the box and gave a penalty, when ‘OJ’ clearly chest trapped the ball.
Da Gama said: “When Mabizela chest trapped the ball, the referee did not even consult with his assistant who had a better view.”
My point, therefore, is if Mfiki didn’t have a better view and he didn’t consult his assistant, surely we can’t put his blunder down to corruption and call for the reinstatement of Operation Dribble. It could be incompetence.
The PSL referees are more often than not caught behind the action, especially in crucial areas of the field like the penalty box and, with that in mind, they are not in a position to make an informed decision, so the easy way out is waving play on which in some cases is not necessarily a correct decision.
Secondly, they, seemingly, don’t grasp the laws of the game, because by not consulting their assistants they are putting a blind eye to page 94 of Fifa’s laws of the game, which states in part that: “In counter-attack situations, the assistant referee should be able to give information such as whether or not a foul has been committed and whether a foul was committed inside or outside the penalty area, which is a priority in any case, and what disciplinary action must be taken.”
The assistant referee, therefore, has a better view in such situations and the referee is obviously aware of the right person to consult should he be caught behind the action, which is normal because the ball moves fast.
I’m subject to correction, but it appears to me many of the bad decisions are a result of our referees simply being incompetent, owing to poor fitness and failure to grasp the laws of the game.
So how do we then put the brakes on poor refereeing?
Well, the question we first must answer is: Why do we still have part-time referees 15 years since the inception of the PSL?
I think the fact that they work part-time for the League means they don’t devote much time to refereeing because they have fulltime jobs elsewhere; hence we witness a dubious decision week in and week out. In essence, the input, which is what referees put in this job, mirrors the output.
Some are schoolteachers, such as Damon, Daniel Bennett, Enoch Molefe and Faiek Daniels.
Harry Lekitlane is a police officer in Welkom, while Victor Gomes owns a company that makes water bottles in Springs and Buyile Gqubule is a manager at Volkswagen in Port Elizabeth.
Basically, our top referees are probably treating refereeing as an opportunity to supplement their income and at the rate they are going, I don’t think they have time to review the tapes to ensure they don’t repeat the same mistakes or the time to work on their fitness so they are not caught behind the action and unable to make informed decisions. I believe that could be the reason the refereeing blunders are prevalent and not necessarily that they are bribed.
For instance, Faiek Daniels left the Mbombela Stadium at 11pm after the match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Moroka Swallows on 2 February. He had, in fact, come off that match before the hour-mark because of a hamstring strain, which could be a result of poor fitness.
He drove straight to Johannesburg at night and at 6am the following morning he was in a flight to Cape Town, where he had to be in class teaching at the school where he has a full-time job.
It appears poor refereeing, specifically in the PSL, could be put down to the fact that it is a part-time job, which might not be taken seriously by some referees.
The sooner the PSL employs referees on a full-time basis, which could afford referees enough time to review tapes of matches they officiated and attend regular teachings of the laws of the game, the better because we might, hopefully, see some improvement.”
(This opinion was originally written for KickOff.com)
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