Safa’s Referees Review Committee was quite busy during March as they came down hard on underperforming match officials, writes DANIEL BENNETT in SoccerClub magazine.
The Review Committee came down hard on eight colleagues who were suspended for underperforming in terms of the new match officials’ disciplinary code.
They were found guilty of poor performances while handling PSL and NFD games, and suspended for between four to six weeks, depending on the nature of their transgression.
Unsatisfactory performances by match officials to be considered by the review committee can include maladministration, arriving late for a match, a poor overall performance or one or more specific ‘match-changing’ decisions.
There is a great misconception among fans that referees arrive just before kick-off, do the match and then go home. On the contrary, we have to arrive at least 90 minutes before kick-off to allow sufficient time for us to do the field and equipment checks. The fourth official and the match commissioner have to go together to both dressing rooms to verify that the players’ faces match the photo on their official PSL registration cards. They also have to verify the jersey numbers they will
be playing in.
So it’s clear that if match officials arrive late for a match it will delay these formalities as we often travel together
in one car. Being late can also affect your performance because you are likely to be stressed and this can affect your concentration and cloud your judgement as your preparation will be rushed.
As match officials we welcome regular assessment as it is a crucial part of our development and growth. A player’s performance is judged by the coach and his technical staff and will largely determine if he will start the next match or whether he will be relegated to the bench. In the same way, the Referees Review Committee considers the assessments of match officials’ performances by the match commissioners and, like the players, this can influence future appointments.
Game-changing decisions are among the main considerations when the review committee hands out suspensions. It’s easy to see why this is so because a game-changing decision, such as awarding a penalty, disallowing a goal or issuing a red card, could, in the long run, influence whether a team gets relegated or wins the championship.
I was suspended at the end of last year for a poor performance when NFD side Black Leopards eliminated Kaizer Chiefs from the Nedbank Cup. I believe match officials should be accountable for their performances and there should be a punishment when a performance or key decision affects the outcome of the match. However, it should also be borne in mind that we are all humans and all make mistakes.
It’s heartening to note that the match officials who were suspended were given appointments in provincial leagues under the mentorship of experienced match commissioners in an attempt to fix their mistakes. This will hopefully ensure that their sanctions have a positive spinoff and that they return as better referees.