We Can’t Carry On Like This!
In a week where there is so much to talk about, we find ourselves engaging in the least expected topic of discussion – match officiating. For some reason, the men in the middle have done their best in stealing the shine from either the players or the coaches so far this season.
This shouldn’t even make it to the football columns, let alone football discussions, but the rate at which these uncalled for scenes have played themselves out in front of our eyes calls for some sort of action.
SuperSport United showed a lot of character and fighting spirit when they came from behind to secure a place in the semi-finals of the CAF Confederation Cup, while Mamelodi Sundowns demonstrated poor leadership and lack of responsibility in their penalties against Wydad Casablanca. Subsequently, they failed to follow in their neighbours’ footsteps and secure their place in the semis of the Champions League.
Banyana Banyana interim coach, Desiree Ellis, continued to show SAFA why they don’t have to look any further than her for the permanent coaching post that has remained vacant for over a year now since coach Vera Pauw left our shores. Coach Ellis continues to defy the odds, as she became the only South African to win the COSAFA Championship as both a player and a coach.
Oscarine Masuluke finally gets the well-deserved recognition for his world-class goal against Orlando Pirates, which was snubbed by South African football supporters who didn’t vote it enough to beat Siphiwe Tshabalala’s goal against Free State Stars as a Goal of the Season at the PSL awards. His goal has made the top 10 of the FIFA Puskas award nomination. What about the ever-improving MultiChoice Diski Challenge and the love shown by the multitudes of our supporters?
The football weekend that kept everyone either glued to their television screens or hopping from one match venue to the next was marred by some dubious refereeing decisions. All of these and other topics have been hijacked by poor officiating and it leaves a bitter taste in every football lover’s mouth.
Something needs to be done about the level of officiating in the PSL and it needs to be done quickly. The last couple of weeks were marred by dubious decisions that left a lot to be desired. The last straw was last Friday’s shocking incident at Cape Town Stadium, where Cape Town City hosted Polokwane City in a league match.
A clearly onside Lehlohonolo Majoro was shockingly ruled offside when the far assistant referee raised his flag, without noticing that Polokwane defender and captain, Thapelo Tshilo, was standing in goals, behind his well-beaten and advancing goalkeeper. A few seconds later, the referee (Cedric Muvhali) allowed the goal to stand, a decision that saw the visiting team go livid, as they had stopped playing as soon as the referee’s whistle had gone for that so-called offside. What happened next was the drop ball that was played by the visiting team and the game went on. A few minutes later, a ball came off a defender’s lower abdomen and, hesitantly, the referee pointed to the spot-kick. This had the “making up for the earlier wrong decision” written all over it. The penalty was successfully converted by Majoro to secure all three points for the Citizens.
As if Muvhali’s below-par performance was not enough, the very same poor referee was rewarded with a Fourth Official appointment in the Saturday night game between Kaizer Chiefs and Golden Arrows at FNB stadium. How can life go on as if nothing had happened the previous night at Cape Town Stadium? Why was he even allowed anywhere near the field of play so suddenly?
Obviously, the man has a lot of explaining to do before he is even considered to be in charge of any other game, be it National First Division or MDC. The decision to appoint him as a Fourth Official is more like showing a middle finger to the Beautiful Game and those who love it the most. It says to the players, coaches, clubs, supporters and everyone who cares to listen, “Get over it! These things happen, let’s all move on.”
SAFA and PSL need to come down very hard on the referee’s selection panel because this amateurish behaviour and flagrant ignorance have to be nipped in the bud. While at it, can you also go through match appointments with a fine comb and tell me if there are no patterns? There are certain referees who are almost guaranteed to officiate for certain clubs and whether this is intentional or not is a story for another day. We just can’t carry on like this and this level of disrespect should never be allowed to go unpunished.
Yes, the appointment of match officials is predetermined but surely, there was enough time to replace Cedric Muvhali following his disastrous performance on Friday night. He should have never even been allowed to come anywhere near the field at FNB Stadium not because he’s bad for football but just out of respect for the game and giving him time to recover from and reflect on his poor performance. He needs to be protected, just like the game and the supporters do.
We need to sort out our officiating before it gets completely out of hand because the poor decision-making is now stealing the limelight even from the officials who have been doing a sterling job. The best match officials do their job without even being noticed.