Fi­nally red card for bad ref­er­ee­ing

Sowetan - - Opinion -

After weeks of ig­no­min­ious of­fi­ci­at­ing in the Pre­mier Soc­cer League, it was pleas­ing to see the SA Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion fi­nally crack­ing the whip on un­der-per­form­ing match of­fi­cials. Safa – as the cus­to­dian of foot­ball ref­er­ee­ing in the coun­try – made the right call to try and re­store the in­tegrity of the its ref­er­ee­ing com­mit­tee by sus­pend­ing ref­eree Cedrick Mu­vhali and his as­sis­tant Pa­trick Jafta for their shock­ingly in­ept han­dling of a league match be­tween Cape Town City and Polok­wane City last month. It’s a pity Safa came to the party a tad late, thereby risk­ing the pro­bity – real or per­ceived – of the en­tire sys­tem. We still did not see the rea­son Safa dragged its feet be­fore a de­ci­sion was taken when Mu­vhali and Jafta had com­mit­ted such bla­tant mis­takes on the day – wit­nessed by mul­ti­tudes of TV au­di­ences and those who at­tended the match at Cape Town Sta­dium. The match of­fi­cials per­for­mances led to ques­tions be­ing raised about the ef­fi­cacy of the Safa ref­er­ee­ing re­view sys­tem. Sowe­tan led the out­cry, ask­ing ques­tion about whether ref­er­ees re­view com­mit­tee was a func­tional body or just a tooth­less dog with a bark dead­lier than its bite. Thank the might of the pen for this, but aren’t we glad that the bull­dog has some­what been shaken out of its deep slum­ber! It does have some teeth and tried to prove that it still knows how to bite this week when the news came out that the cul­prits have been barred for three months from han­dling PSL matches and that cor­rec­tive mea­sures would be taken to en­sure there would be no re­peats on their part. The in­terim head of the ref­er­ees com­mit­tee Ian McLeod told this news­pa­per this week that Mu­vhali and Jafta would not be out in the cold for good, but the pair have been de­moted to the ABC Mot­sepe League to “cor­rect their mis­takes”. This is en­cour­ag­ing as, in­stead of dump­ing the ref­er­ees, ways are sought to re­ha­bil­i­tate them and hope­fully train them to re-emerge as an im­proved lot. We view this as a a tra­di­tion worth pre­serv­ing if we are to de­velop world-class match of­fi­cials. Lastly, we com­mend Safa for re­call­ing former ref­eree Andile “Ace” Ncobo to help re­sus­ci­tate the un­der-fire ref­er­ees’ com­mit­tee. Ncobo proved his worth as a whistle­blower in the top flight and also made a mark in the Fifa and CAF ref­er­ee­ing pan­els. We hope his in­put will make an im­me­di­ate im­pact, and that de­ci­sions upon re­view are im­ple­mented with­out de­lay.

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