PSL referees must be held accountable

Benni in PSL

The standard of refereeing in the PSL is being questioned after a number of shocking calls made by officials recently, writes MARSHALL GOUTS.

We’re less than 10 games into the 2017-18 Absa Premiership season, but already the league has been marred by incidents of poor officiating.

Cape Town City coach Benni McCarthy claimed that the standard of refereeing in South Africa isn’t at the level it should be, after his side were on the end of two bad calls in consecutive league fixtures, with the first decision proving the more costly.

Lehlohonolo Majoro had a goal ruled out in The Citizens’ 1-0 loss to Orlando Pirates, and only time will tell just how costly those three points will prove to be.

“South Africa needs to up our refereeing a little bit,” McCarthy said after the Pirates match. “I think for me that’s our biggest thing that’s keeping our football a little bit behind.

“When you watch European football‚ referees give the coach an explanation because they’ve got the right to know why goals were disallowed. And here it’s, ‘Our way or the highway’,” an incensed McCarthy said.

Majoro was denied another goal in the victory against Polokwane City when he was incorrectly adjudged to have been offside.

“I don’t think they are aware, but it’s these kinds of decisions that cause coaches to lose their jobs,’ said Rise and Shine coach Bernard Molekwa. “He [the referee] goes home smiling to feed his kids and family, and I will be losing my job.

“If I lose fairly and I am fired, I will understand. I can look in the mirror and say that I have failed. But this … the referee decided the result.”

You can understand the coaches’ frustration, but this ”new” problem of referees deciding results is not really that new, is it?

Match officials have been under scrutiny since the birth of footbal,l and most times coaches and supporters will be critical of the man in the middle for ‘not doing his job’, but what happens when he truly doesn’t do his job or the due processes are not followed?

Granted, human error will creep into some of the decisions, but in a results-orientated industry where the stakes are high, the man in the middle must be taken to task if his incorrect decision-making is directly advantageous/disadvantageous for one team.

Fifa set a precedent by ordering Bafana Bafana to replay their World Cup qualifier against Senegal, after the referee, Joseph Lamptey, was banned for life having been found guilty of match manipulation.

In some of the leagues below the PSL, referees often dabble in corruption, accepting bribes for favourable calls. I’m not suggesting that the referees in the top-flight do the same, but this problem needs to be addressed as a whole, across the board. These practices need to be turfed out.

Safa should look to seriously address this problem, as it has long tainted our football. Things have become so bad that the man in the middle is often as much a point of discussion by commentators and fans for poor performance as the players.

Technological advances aid referees in making decisions, but week-in and week-out teams are being subjected to dubious officiating.

Now, I am no expert in refereeing, but in reference to the two above-mentioned incidents, the referee should have gone over and liaised with his assistant, and then making a more informed decision without the presence of screaming players in his face. Rather delay the game for a few minutes than make a wrong decision that could hurt your or someone else’s career.

A referee must be able to command a presence and be assertive with players. Referees, much like players, have a role to play in ensuring that the game is played in the best of spirits, with minimal errors committed.

I fear the worst if this situation is not addressed. Will it take a mistake in a cup final or league decider – that sees a referee at risk of injury, or God forbid, even worse – before the bigwigs decide something needs to be done desperately?

Or will it end in an incensed coach having to be restrained by club officials, and players from threatening harm to the referee? We have seen this before.

Photo: Chris Ricco/Backpagepix

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