Johannesburg - The resumption of the league programme could be thrown into turmoil after a host of match officials failed their fitness test last week.
The second round of the league programme will resume on February 7 after a lengthy Christmas and Africa Cup of Nations-induced break.
With both the Premiership and the National First Division set to be in full swing in the second round, the leagues could be affected by the depleted pool of match officials.
City Press has learnt that a few top officials failed the test during their annual workshop, which was conducted by Fifa instructor Felix Tangawarima of Zimbabwe last week.
After the workshop, Tangawarima was quoted on the Safa website as being impressed by the smooth running of the event.
However, he had reservations about the physical aspect of the officials.
“The referees ... need to work on their physical fitness which, for some referees, was below the required level,” said Tangawarima.
Fifa rules stating that failed officials can only be retested after a six-week cooling off period, have left Safa with a headache emanating from a shortage of experienced and fit officials.
A dejected Safa head of referees Peter Sejake said that he was disappointed by the turn of events proving that South Africa’s match officials were not in good shape, but he refused to divulge more information.
Sejake said he was still applying his mind as to what to do next.
He said 26 match officials, including referees and their assistants, one female referee and an assistant have also failed the test.
“Thirteen of the 38 referees who took the test failed. Out of the 40 other match officials, 13 also did not make the grade.
“We had one female running the male test and failed, one passed the female test and one of the two assistants failed,” said Sejake.
But he refused to divulge the names of the unfit personnel saying they were going to discuss the list at a technical committee meeting.
“I don’t want to talk about this issue as it is depressing. You can tell from my voice that I am really down and depressed,” said Sejake.
Two of those who failed are on the international panel list. Sejake said their failure had already affected appointments as they had been taken off international matches.
However, a Safa official, who did not want to be identified, said the number of those who failed was alarming.
The official said match officials were used to getting away with murder as they knew they would not be retested soon.
Failed the test
“The first thing they asked after failing the test was when would they be retested.
“This is so disappointing as they get all the support they need from the association but they can’t get one thing right – fitness,” said the official.
City Press has learnt that among those who failed the test was the trio who officiated in the Telkom Knockout final between SuperSport United and Cape Town City on December 10.
Others are Lwandile Mfiki and Phillip Tinyane.
High-profile assistants on the list include Sandile Dilikane, Zandile Madidilane, Moses Phale, Lindikhaya Bolo and Thembisile Windvoel.