Cape Town - Last week SAFA's Referee Review committee took
another step in their enlightened and progressive "red cards for
referees" initiative by naming and suspending three referees, three
assistant referees and a match commissioner who officiated in recent PSL matches.
Among the games involved were those between Kaizer Chiefs
and Bidvest Wits; Free State Stars and Bloemfontein Celtic; Orlando Pirates and
Platinum Stars and Mamelodi Sundowns and Chiefs.
Suspensions ranged from four to six weeks and in one
instance a fine was meted out as well.
Previously erring referees were placed in cotton wool and
often handed extra assignments on the misguided basis that punishment and bad
publicity would affect their confidence, the level of respect from players and spectators
alike and indicate that SAFA had lost confidence in them.
It was a case of kindness backfiring and only spreading the
malaise of bad decisions affecting the outcome of games and the referees still
knowing they would not be punished.
"These sanctions are consistent with our main objective
of ensuring that our match officials remain highly competitive and are
recognised throughout the African continent and the globe."
The one danger, of course, is that it should not be
overlooked referees are only human and will therefore make mistakes like
everyone else and should therefore only be punished for mistakes that are in
the inexcusable category.
Also it needs to be recognised that unlike many other
sporting codes who are now using technology to limit the number of incorrect
decisions, the former FIFA regime were drawing their heels on this matter and
allowing mistakes in soccer matches to flourish instead of being eliminated.
Hopefully this is an issue that new FIFA president will seek
to redress as a matter of urgency.
In the meantime, SAFA has made a bold statement by showing
that referees are not immune from criticism and punishment when it is