The curse of the rotten refs
The same bad movie keeps playing, season after season
Is it not bad enough that referees in the Premier Soccer League have had a poor season, that they make the situation worse by taking selfies with players post-match, or seem fixated on making themselves the stars of the show?
Good referees should be seen but not heard. In fact, the less seen the better.
While the multibillion-rand league progresses and becomes more professional, and victories and defeats become worth more financially each year, referees remain behind the curve.
Refereeing decisions have become far too visible and controversial, rearing their head intermittently throughout this season, attracting the wrath of coaches and analysts, and ruining too many a good game or influencing the outcome of matches.
The past few weeks have been among the worst.The most glaring recent error was a penalty awarded by Victor Gomes in a 2-1 win by Wits against Golden Arrows two weeks ago where Matome Mathiane was adjudged to have handled when Sifiso Hlanti’s cross struck the defender’s face.
Gomes, with correct or incorrect decisions, is more in the headlines than any referee should be.
In Mamelodi Sundowns’ 1-0 win against Cape Town City at Athlone Stadium he should have red-carded Downs goalkeeper Denis Onyango for a foul on Thabo Nodada that resulted in 20 stitches.
Gomes later sent off Downs coach Pitso Mosimane. Mosimane’s assistant, Manqoba Mngqithi, insisted the coach had not sworn at the referee.
“It’s a first for me where you are just complaining about your player being fouled‚ there was no swearing or anything‚ you are just putting forward a logical complaint‚ and I see my coach being sent off‚” Mngqithi said.
Gomes’s liberal flashing of cards – he once dished out six red cards in two matches, and matched a world record of five penalties in a game in a run of 11 in four games – has earned him a reputation among coaches for wanting to be the centre of attention.
Of course, it has not only been Gomes – who shows potential in bigger matches, especially internationally, where he keeps his flamboyance in check – making mistakes.On Sunday Victor Hlungwani awarded a penalty when Orlando Pirates forward Bernard Morrison’s cross travelled just 2m and found the arms of Chippa United’s Paseka Mako, who had not moved his limbs to obstruct the ball, and did not have time to remove them.
Thabo Mnyamane’s goal on the break for SuperSport United on Saturday night at Lucas Moripe Stadium drew the wrath of Mosimane in a 1-1 draw, though later Sundowns’ coach did concede the forward had been onside.But he correctly pointed out that an inexperienced refereeing trio – surely too much so for a Tshwane derby – had got their line calls wrong, for which they were often poorly positioned, for both sides all evening. These included what could have been a second-half strike for SuperSport’s Evans Rusike.
The farcical officiating in Cape Town City’s 1-0 home win against Polokwane City on September 22 saw linesman Patrick Jafta and referee Cedric Muvhali suspended for three months and demoted to the National First Division (NFD).
The officials combined to disallow a goal by Cape Town striker Lehlohonolo Majoro, not seeing Polokwane defender Thapelo Tshilo on his own goal-line, then under protests Muvhali changed his mind twice to eventually overrule a legitimate strike.In stoppage time Muvhali seemingly tried to rectify the blunder by awarding a dubious penalty‚ which Majoro put away.
But censure and dumping poor match officials on the already contentiously-officiated NFD is a case of treating the symptom and not the cause.
Refs, mostly, do not want to be poor. That a record 20 failed a physical test a year and a half ago points to a problem in training.
Match officials continue to be under the auspices of the South African Football Association, which cannot pay full-time salaries.
The richer PSL is prepared to pay better salaries and for proper training, but it wants control of the refs.
So long as this status quo remains, this same B movie will be replayed in PSL theatres near you, season after season.