Former Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Joel ‘Fire’ Masilela, a onetime victim of one of the most dubious refereeing decisions in the history of the Premier Soccer League (PSL), says nothing has changed since his calamity over two decades ago.
In 1998, during a high octane Rothmans Cup final between Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs, the clash was 2-2 in extra time and there needed to be a hero.
Masilela thought he was the hero when he fired a low shot past Brian Baloyi but his strike was judged offside, something that shocked the football world since television replays clearly showed he was onside.
To this day many, who rally behind Sundowns, feel there’s a trophy missing at Chloorkop because of that incident.
“It doesn’t bother me anymore because nothing has changed,” Masilela told FARPost.
Masilela, a speedy and skillful winger in his heyday, says the standard of officiating in the country is still as it was over 20 years ago.
“They don’t learn from the past. Even today it is still happening, the poor officiating. Yes, they are human beings but if you look at our referees, they are not up to standard. What are these people doing about it? They’re doing nothing about it. Our referees are not fit. They’re making errors every time. Every game, it’s human errors,” said Masilela.
Pre Covid-19 pandemic, the referees were under enormous pressure following poor officiating in a number of matches.
Recently there have been incidences were some teams lost points at the fault of match officials. These has amplified calls for VAR to be introduced in the PSL. Though in favour of VAR, Masilela has doubts about the country’s readiness.
“I say let’s go for VAR but it won’t help because VAR is going to assist us only if we are at that level. It will help us if our level is high. It won’t help us if our level is this low. It’s not going to be conducive. We are not going to see the value of VAR because our level is poor. Our referees need to up the level here and then you bring the VAR,” said the former Bafana Bafana star.
“The other thing is that it’s going to cost us a lot of millions to bring VAR. Our refereeing is poor. We would be working at a loss. We won’t see the importance of VAR because our referees are not mentally and physically fit to handle a match. It’s only few who are good. You can point them. The rest are poor. For me 85% of our referees are poor.”
In order to improve the standard of officiating Masilela is of the view that off-form referees should be demoted to lower leagues and that Safa and the referee’s association should invest money into improving the standard of refereeing even if it means taking them overseas or inviting experts from overseas to train local match officials.
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