Cape Town - The Premier Soccer League (PSL) Disciplinary Committee, led by prosecutor Nande Becker, recently handed out six-month bans to both Cape Town City FC midfielder Mpho Makola and a TS Sporting member of staff for misconduct towards match officials.
Makola was banned for "assaulting" a match official with TS Sporting team manager Vusi Ntimane receiving the same punishment for "abusing and harassing" a match official, according to a PSL statement.
Both sentences were severe with the latter receiving less coverage as the match wasn't televised.
But a point should be made that any member of staff not directly involved in a match should never become embroiled in a heated exchange with a referee.
Makola's incident though is different.
Football is an emotional game played with passion by highly-competitive individuals which can occasionally spill over - and that makes it the game we all love.
It needs to be made abundantly clear though that what Makola did by physically shoving referee Abongile Tom during a Telkom Knockout clash against Kaizer Chiefs was wrong.
But for the PSL to then ludicrously ban the former Orlando Pirates player for six months is both excessive and sets a dangerous precedent.
CT City chairperson John Comitis claimed that Becker was initially intent on handing out a 12-month ban.
This indicates that Becker has lost his head and is guilty of abusing his power as PSL prosecutor.
When handing out the punishment the PSL said: "Makola was found guilty of assaulting match official Abongile Tom during the Telkom Knockout fixture against Kaizer Chiefs at the Cape Town Stadium on October 19."
The dictionary defines assault as: To make a physical attack on.
Example: "he pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer"
Synonyms: hit, strike, physically attack, aim blows at, slap, smack, beat, thrash, spank, thump, thwack, punch
What Makola did by shoving Tom in a competitive game does not amount to assault.
The NSL Handbook rule 57.2 details the specific sanctions against any individual found guilty of misconduct against a match official.
57.2 Misconduct against a Match Official:
22.214.171.124.at least four (4) matches for unsporting conduct towards a Match Official
126.96.36.199.at least six (6) months for assaulting a Match Official
188.8.131.52.at least twelve (12) months for spitting at a Match Official.
This rule is obviously intended to prevent any individual inflicting physical harm against a match official such as striking or aiming blows - not for a slight shove.
For Becker, who is a qualified attorney, there is precedent regarding similar incidents.
Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo shoved a referee after receiving a second yellow card in a Spanish Super Cup clash against Barcelona in 2017.
Ronaldo received a five-game ban.
You can even go further back to one of the Premier League's most infamous incidents when Sheffield Wednesday striker Paolo di Canio shoved a referee in 1998 and received an 11-match ban - three for a red card and eight for the push.
Becker has also doubled-down on his decision and confirmed that the PSL may take further action against CT City for their statement against the ruling.
The PSL, instead of handling the incident, is now in danger of making this a personal matter and are setting a dangerous trend for future cases.
How is it possible also that a harsher punishment is handed out for a shove than for incidents such as racism, biting, fan violence or a career-threatening tackle?
Any indiscretion or act of violence would now demand a similar ban by the public or football clubs as well as highlighting in comparison just how poor the Makola decision is.
- Follow Baden Gillion on Twitter