Johannesburg - I was very disappointed to hear recently that referees have again been at the receiving end of criticism from some managers and coaches in the Premier Soccer League (PSL).
It’s been reported that not only were the decisions questioned and disputed, but also a form of racism (tribalism, to be exact) was used to highlight one club manager’s disgust and annoyance at what he interpreted as a ref being biased against his team.
He verbally and publicly abused this match official and reports suggest that he even tried to enter the referee’s changing room after the game to remonstrate with him.
I’m conscious that there might be a disciplinary meeting regarding this and some other cases in which the man in the middle had his decisions called into question, so I’m reluctant to prejudice any hearing.
Suffice it to say that the referee’s job is a lonely and demanding one.
It’s always been that way and we don’t need the added pressure of having our decisions questioned by people who should know better.
Referees go through a stringent process to progress to where they are today at PSL level.
They have years of experience behind them in the lower leagues.
I’ve said many times that if I could buy experience, I would order truckloads of it – but it’s not that simple.
Some managers feel frustrated when they perceive their team is being hard done by and sometimes they see only one side of the game.
Many managers/coaches and even chairpersons see the game from their own perspective and, for the most part, are not objective about how a game is being handled.
I regularly see them jumping up and down objecting to a penalty awarded against their team.
Let’s get one thing straight here regarding a handball.
In simple terms and in words of one syllable, if that’s possible (I’m being facetious), the law says that the hand has to be moving towards the ball and not the ball towards the hand for a handball to be awarded against a player.
I regularly see referees getting this wrong.
There are all kinds of scenarios to take into consideration, such as the closeness of the player to the ball at the moment of impact, the so-called natural position of the hand/arm and so on.
I think it’s time there was more communication between refereeing authorities and club officials.
I tried this initiative some years ago when I was at the PSL under the stewardship of Trevor Phillips.
I wrote to all the PSL and National First Division clubs and asked them if I could visit their training ground and go through some role plays with them.
Only four invitations were accepted.
Does that say something?
Are they not interested in clarification? If not, why not?
Another issue is whether referees should be allowed to explain their decisions.
I totally disagree with this.
It will turn into an inquest and argument and, heaven knows, there are enough arguments on the field already with players and refs.
How about a referee liaison officer? This is a suggestion I made some years ago.
This would mean an experienced former referee could explain why a referee made a certain decision.
No one came back to me with any feedback, so I guess they’re not interested in that suggestion, either.
Finally, referees are not allowed to talk to the press – and that rule comes from Fifa.
Law number five of the laws of the game states that, to paraphrase, the ref’s decision is final.
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