HomeSportFINAL WHISTLE: We need a new crop of referees altogether

FINAL WHISTLE: We need a new crop of referees altogether

ON Thursday November 1 2012, the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) sensationally disbanded the entire national team, including the technical department led by Rahman Gumbo.

Final Whistle with Brian Nkiwane

The sweeping measures came out of a crisis meeting that was held two weeks after the Warriors’ disastrous failure to qualify for the 2013 African Nations Cup finals in South Africa. The Warriors collapsed in Luanda after carrying what seemed to be a healthy 3-1 lead and Zifa blamed the defeat on the players and the technical team.

Gumbo and his players were sacrificed in a massive shake-up that came hard-on-the-heels of the widely publicised Asiagate bans.

The move has seen the birth of a new-look Warriors squad which is poised to restore smiles to football fans, as well as taking Zimbabwean football to greater heights.

What Zifa did not realise is that among the players, football administrators and sports journalists that were banned, were match officials.

The Referees Association was spared the cleaning broom and the ghost is back to haunt our local football.

I feel the same cleaning broom that swept in the Warriors changing room should also have been used to clean-up the Referees Association.

A closer look at yet another football scandal that rocked this country, the Centralgate, shows that referees were the main actors in this blockbuster movie.

Therefore, I don’t see any reason why the powers that be in the football fraternity decided to turn a blind eye on this issue.

At one point, a special committee which was chaired by Zifa vice-president Ndumiso Gumede was appointed to look into the Centralgate scandal, but until this day, the matter has not been finalised.

For long, referees have been found on the wrong side of football laws, deciding outcomes of matches thereby bringing football into disrepute, as well as violating the Fifa motto, “Fair Play Is My Game.”

Since the beginning of the 2013 soccer season, newspapers have been coming out with screaming headlines on violence that is slowly rearing its ugly head at our match venues.

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) has drawn up a structure of sunctions that would be imposed on any violent activities at match venues. The sanctions include fines for coaches that would have been shown red cards.

Since the season started, three clubs have been sanctioned so far, with Highlanders topping the charts after being fined twice, as well as Shabanie Mine and Dynamos.

I bet my last cent, this is not going to work at all, as long as match officials are left to decide outcomes in football matches.

It’s like referees are now cementing the old cliché, “Referee’s decision is final.” At times, it needs to be contested.

Looking at all the three matches that have hogged the limelight this season, you would see that referees were the chief culprits.

If you remember well, the 2013 soccer season started with a Charity Shield football extravaganza that was held in Zvishavane.

The officiating that we were treated to during the event left a lot to be desired, especially in the final match pitting Chicken Inn and CAPS United, where the centre man Makonese Masakadza added seven minutes of extra time when the fourth official had indicated that the match was supposed to have three minutes added time.

Chicken Inn technical bench, fans and dignitaries were all up on their feet as this unfolded.

Taking a closer look at the Highlanders/Shabanie Mine match where violence erupted after the same match official, Masakadza, had denied Bosso what looked like a clear penalty; it did not even require a referee from the moon to see that Knox Mtizwa had been impeded in the box.

The match pitting Highlanders and Dynamos at Rufaro again did not go down well with a number of players, supporters and even other football officials.

The man who handled the match, Norman Matemera decided to add seven minutes added time after the fourth official had indicated that four minutes were to be added, which later provoked Highlanders supporters.

But this time around it’s a different club altogether, Shabanie Mine were denied what looked like two genuine goals against Harare City, leading to the abandonment of the match with nine minutes still to be played.

Unfortunately, the points were awarded to Harare City with Shabanie mine being fined.

This is actually exposing our referees, who are failing to make it to the international stage.

I think Zifa should consider cleaning this association because fining clubs will not stop violence as long as fans feel cheated.

And remember, it’s the fans who become violent, not players or football administrators.

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