SAFA On ‘Concerning’ Referee Mistakes
Ari Soldatos, SAFA's Chairman of Referee Appointments Speaks About Officials
In an Absa Premiership plagued with mistakes made by officials so far this season, fans all over the country are asking questions about the standard of refereeing in South Africa.
Referees, linesmen and officials have all been under scrutiny this campaign with several games having been marred by glaring, game-changing errors that have left a bad taste in the mouths of clubs and supporters.
Most recently, Cape Town City on the receiving end of a poor decision, as Lehlohonolo Majoro was incorrectly ruled offside during their game against Polokwane City, however, they are by no means the only club that has been affected.
Questions have been asked about the repercussions that referees face on the back of making glaring errors in games, and the Siya crew got in contact with Ari Soldatos, the Chairman of Referee Appointments at SAFA, to discuss the matter.
When asked about the presence of a Review Committee in South African football, Soldatos said, “There’s a Review Committee that sits once or twice a week – on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but mostly on Thursdays. They go through clippings of contentious decisions that have taken place. The Review Committee then comes up with recommendations based on two things – whether there was an error and whether it affected the outcome. If the answer is yes to both, then recommendations will be made with regards to possible suspensions.
“The Review Committee cannot suspend referees though. Only the Technical Committee of Referees can do that. They decide whether to accept the recommendation or not.
“We know the public want punishments handed out,” he explained. “But we feel that it’s better to try and send some refs to a lower league and send assessors to help them. We want to be corrective rather than punitive where possible, but sometimes you need to take the bull by the horns.”
Soldatos did admit that the problems this season have been noted and are, in his words, ‘concerning’, but remained adamant that everyone is doing their best to improve matters.
He said, “I’ve been dealing with ref appointments since 2004, and never have I seen so many errors in such a short period of time. It’s not the errors that are the main problem, they’re errors that are directly affecting the result. Mistakes happen everywhere at all levels, but what has been part striking and concerning is that the games have been impacted because of those errors.
“We’re trying our level best to get these things corrected. That’s why we try and use less experienced refs in non-high risk games, the younger ones that haven’t been doing many games, and we have seen some improvement in the lower rung ones.
“We do need to focus on these issues. There needs to be better co-op between refs, coaches and management. One of our objectives is to build on that relationship.”