Refs chang­ing lives, one howler at a time

Sunday Tribune - - RACING - Lungani Zama

GOAL! Um, maybe no goal. Ac­tu­ally, off-side. Oh, wait, to add to the con­fu­sion, we will make it a drop ball. And just to put the cherry on top of this sham­bles of a cake, let us give a penalty that isn’t and make amends for the hor­ror show we made of the last de­ci­sion.

Ref­eree Cedrick Mu­vhali over­saw a dis­as­trous sec­ond half in the Mother City, and he is lucky that the fi­nal de­ci­sion was a home-town one. Had it been the other way, he may well have de­parted the Cape Town Sta­dium with red lights, and not the blue ones he needed as an es­cort.

There may have only been a hand­ful of sup­port­ers in at­ten­dance, but they were in­censed enough to have hunted him down and de­manded an­swers to the cu­ri­ous ques­tions he cre­ated. And, he surely knows that if that fix­ture had been “in the hood”, he may have had to change his ad­dress, and prob­a­bly his mode of trans­porta­tion.

That is not to con­done the po­ten­tial vi­o­lence that his bizarre ac­tions would have no doubt caused, but Mu­vhali and his ilk must know that their howlers don’t merely end at the shrill of the whis­tle. Foot­ball is the most pop­u­lar sport on earth. Thus, it has the most po­ten­tial to es­ca­late and dis­in­te­grate into an­ar­chy. Polok­wane’s play­ers and staff were close to that on Fri­day night – as were Cape Town City.

It is not of­ten that both sides can feel quite so ag­grieved in the same match, but that is the spe­cial kind of in­ep­ti­tude that Mu­vhali served up un­der the Fri­day night lights. The joke that was the sup­posed of­fi­ci­at­ing would be funny, if it wasn’t quite so se­ri­ous.

Foot­ball is a se­ri­ous mat­ter, and these far­ci­cal de­ci­sions have grave con­se­quences. Not six-feet-un­der-kinda grave, as some will sug­gest, but grim enough to be a case of job or no job for coaches and, some­times, play­ers.

It can’t be a case, then, of calls be­ing made as if they are be­ing plucked from a lucky packet. The rich­est sport on earth still some­how lan­guishes be­hind in­fin­itely poorer cousins, like ten­nis, cricket and even rugby, which have all taken the ab­so­lute shocker out of their of­fi­ci­at­ing reper­toire. This is how we end up with matches like South Africa v Sene­gal be­ing re­played, and puz­zlers like #Mu­vhali trend­ing on Twit­ter.

Let us be clear: Even tech­nol­ogy would have strug­gled to put a lid on the cat­a­logue of clangers that Mu­vhali racked up, but a 10-sec­ond de­lay may have cleared up that first goal. And that may have saved us from that lu­di­crous penalty at the end.

Benni Mccarthy wore the face of a man who was about to ad­min­is­ter the kind of don­der­ing that kicks off with, “Jou ma se .... ”, and who would blame him. On the back of the prob­lems he has al­ready had with of­fi­cials, the for­mer Bafana striker must have been ready to go Hur­ri­cane Irma sta­tus in his post-match in­ter­view.

He is quickly re­al­is­ing why so many of his fel­low re­tirees opt to stay on the pam­pered an­a­lyst cush­ion, in­stead of the lot­tery that is stand­ing on the touch­line, hap­less to the un­pre­dictabil­ity of the 23 hu­mans on the field. Man­age­ment is not good for the heart, and his first month on the job would have con­firmed that.

It is lit­er­ally Lotto on steroids. The money is great, but the ride alone might just kill you. Heck, at this rate, Mccarthy may yet shed the ex­cess weight that he strug­gled with at West Ham United.

The of­fi­ci­at­ing re­ally is that life-al­ter­ing.

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