Time for Safa to pon­der the hand­ing of ref­er­ees over to PSL

CityPress - - Sport - S’Bu­siso Mse­leku .sm­se­leku@city­press.co.za Fol­low me on Twitter @Sbu_Mse­leku

Many South African foot­ball fol­low­ers will be singing Hal­lelu­jah to­day.

Their source of joy will be twopronged.

While some will be cel­e­brat­ing the end of the 31st Africa Cup of Na­tions in Gabon, they will also be singing their lungs out in rev­er­ence to the fact that the do­mes­tic league, Absa Premier­ship, will fi­nally come out of its si­esta on Tues­day.

To be hon­est, some – if not many – fol­low­ers of do­mes­tic soc­cer did not care much for what was hap­pen­ing in the tiny west African coun­try.

And no one can blame those who did not care a hoot, see­ing that even the 1.6 mil­lion charges of Pres­i­dent Ali Bongo Ondimba couldn’t be both­ered, fail­ing to fill up the sta­di­ums even when their own na­tional team, known as Les Pan­thères (The Pan­thers) or Les Brésiliens (The Brazil­ians), played.

The lat­ter moniker is quite a fas­ci­nat­ing so­bri­quet see­ing that the only com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor be­tween Gabonese foot­ball and that of the five-time World Cham­pi­ons is their play­ing kit. And the sim­i­lar­i­ties end there. How­ever, I di­gress. Again! While there is ju­bi­la­tion that we are now go­ing to be bleary-eyed from watch­ing mid­week night soc­cer on the telly, there is the small mat­ter of the ref­er­ees.

It was quite dis­turb­ing to hear that a to­tal of 26 match of­fi­cials re­cently failed their fit­ness tests.

This is a cri­sis of hu­mongus pro­por­tions, given that it will re­duce the pool of of­fi­cials go­ing into the fi­nal stretch of the sea­son.

More dis­turb­ing – as re­ported in City Press – was the fact that two of the of­fi­cials who failed the test, were on the in­ter­na­tional panel, mean­ing they are Fifa-ac­cred­ited ref­er­ees.

This news is dis­turb­ing on a num­ber of fronts and needs se­ri­ous at­ten­tion. It is an in­di­ca­tion that those who failed do not take their jobs se­ri­ously.

We have writ­ten reams and reams of copy about ill-dis­ci­plined play­ers. But when you have peo­ple, who are sup­posed to in­stil rules and en­sure they are fol­lowed to the let­ter on the pitch, fail­ing tests, it takes the mean­ing of ill-dis­ci­pline to a an­other level.

It is pretty ob­vi­ous that those who failed overindulged dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son and to­tally for­got who they were and what their du­ties were.

Two: Safa needs to not only take a dim view of this mis­con­duct but must se­verely pun­ish the cul­prits.

If the body doesn’t do that, it will give the im­pres­sion that it is a lame duck that is taken for granted and has failed in its du­ties.

Safa needs a strong in­di­vid­ual to head this cru­cial unit of our foot­ball. Some­one who will com­mand re­spect from the match of­fi­cials re­port­ing to him.

This might just be an in­di­ca­tion that it is high time that Safa con­sid­ered giv­ing the ref­er­ees – those who han­dle Absa Premier­ship and NFD matches – over to their Spe­cial Mem­ber, the Pre­mier Soc­cer League (PSL).

The lat­ter has been ask­ing for quite some time to be given the op­por­tu­nity to pro­fes­sion­alise the whis­tle-men’s fra­ter­nity.

The PSL cof­fers are jin­gling with money, un­like the mother body that has not at­tracted any mas­sive and sig­nif­i­cant spon­sor­ship in some while now.

The league has just cel­e­brated a hugely suc­cess­ful 10-year part­ner­ship with Su­perS­port amid spec­u­la­tion that the pair had agreed on a multi­bil­lion-rand ex­ten­sion.

Spec­u­la­tion is that the im­ple­men­ta­tion of that deal would see the 16 PSL clubs smil­ing all the way to the bank to cash in dou­ble the R1.5 mil­lion monthly grants they are cur­rently get­ting.

Given this back­ground and the state in which South African ref­er­ee­ing has been for years now, maybe, just maybe, it is time Safa re­ally con­sid­ered this op­tion.

It is no use hang­ing on to an as­set that you are un­able to han­dle or utilise prop­erly.

We do need pro­gres­sive minds and fresh ideas for our foot­ball to grow.

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