Cape Town – “Hello darkness, my old friend. I have come to talk with you again.”
I won’t be surprised if this Simon and Garfunkel hit, “The Sounds of Silence”, is on repeat in the lounges of PSL coaches Steve Komphela and Clinton Larsen.
Because if they contemplated the sound of silence, the Free State Stars man Komphela and his Bloemfontein Celtic counterpart Larsen wouldn’t have been hauled over the coals and fined for criticising referees’ performances in the first games of the new campaign.
Refereeing in Mzansi has been a big talking point over the last few years, with too many questionable decisions influencing the course of matches. One referee even got belted by a crazed vuvuzela-wielding fan during a Kaizer Chiefs match last season.
But while the issues haven’t been addressed by the people running the game, coaches are being fined left, right and centre for speaking their minds.
Orlando Pirates coach Roger de Sa and the new man in charge of Wits, Gavin Hunt, have been favourites of the PSL’s money-making machine, the Disciplinary Committee, for speaking their mind about referees or scolding the men in black from the touchline.
De Sa was once accused of swearing at an official in Portuguese, making me wonder if the referees have a translator next to the field every time De Sa is on the touchline.
Of course, referees would be the first target of any desperate coach to use as a scapegoat for a defeat. But most of the time, these coaches and their clubs have the right to feel aggrieved by some of our referees’ decisions, or lack thereof.
There seems to be no accountability for a poor refereeing display, while criticising the men in the middle is viewed as bringing the game into disrepute, as Komphela and Larsen found out this week.
A poor refereeing decision can have a massive influence on a game or even a coach’s future, and you can understand why these people vent their frustrations at a news conference directly after a match.
Referees should be suspended if they make too many mistakes too often in matches.
They should also be ordered to apologise to the team that suffered as a result.
I would probably be fined every week for speaking out if it had to happen to me. But I would be clever, because I would probably use sign language as well, which includes waving around one strategically chosen finger. I haven’t seen anything that says sign language can bring the league into disrepute.
For now, though, I would recommend that coaches carry a stress ball with them next to the field. So, every time you feel like shouting something nasty at a referee, look down at your ball, squeeze it tight, and start to sing the Sounds of Silence.
The Simon and Garfunkel CD is less than R100, and it’s better than a R25 000 fine, which will probably make you swear even more...
TWEETS OF THE WEEK
@LucasRadebe (On Mandela Day): Actually first time playing at NEW @FNBStadium! Incredible memories there ’96 African Nations Cup. Won there to qualify for first WC 1998.
@travito08 (Ajax midfielder Travis Graham wishes Khama Billiat well): @IamKhamaBilliat didn’t even say goodbye but its cool. Goodluck with your future bro will get you in the tunnel :)
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