Johannesburg - Former award-winning referee Ace Ncobo has warned the Premier Soccer League that something nasty is coming if nothing is done about the unsporting behaviour displayed by ball boys.
In the wake of another ball boy being sent off during a game, Ncobo has urged the league to address the issue before it gets out of hand.
Warned against danger
Ball boys have been in the spotlight for deliberate time-wasting before. Last weekend, a referee sent a ball boy off during the game between Kaizer Chiefs and Polokwane City at FNB Stadium. All hell broke loose when the ball boy decided not to give the ball to Simphiwe Hlongwane for a throw-in.
City were trailing 2-1 and they did not take kindly to this behaviour.
Ncobo, who serves on the referee technical committee of the South African Football Association, warned against the danger of not policing the behaviour of ball boys and said it might result in an assault case.
He reckons it should be documented in the league’s rulebook that each club is responsible for its ball boys and will face consequences for bringing the game into disrepute.
He believes punishing clubs will decrease incidents of ball boys deliberately wasting time.
“Teams must be fined and it must be a rule written in the compliance manual. Even if it’s one clause that says each team is responsible for the performance of its ball boys, and any misdemeanour by them will constitute misconduct by the team,” said Ncobo.
“[Ball boys] are playing with fire and you can see that somebody is teaching and coaching them to deliberately waste time. There is no way they can do this of their own volition".
Assist match officials
He said there was a serious danger of the situation escalating.
“One day, a player or an official will become so angry that they will go overboard and assault these young boys. When you are trailing and your tempo is disrupted by a mere ball boy, you could become so angry and emotional that you might strangle somebody out of anger and frustration".
He said ball boys were part of the game and were there to assist match officials.
“Once they are presented to the field of play, they cease to be part of the home team. They must not forget who they are working for on the day, and they should fall directly under the fourth official,” Ncobo said.
He added that their role was to make sure that minimal time was wasted when the ball went out of the field of play.
“Remember, the referee does not stop time when the ball goes out unless the ball goes far and there is no immediate replacement. A lot of time will then be lost if there are no ball boys. It is already difficult to squeeze 60 minutes of active play into the allocated 90 minutes. Not having ball boys would reduce that time further and it would be cheating the consumers".
Two seasons ago, referee Victor Gomes sent off a ball boy in injury time during the 1-1 draw between Chiefs and Cape Town City.
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