Finally red card for bad refereeing
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.