JOHANNESBURG - How long do we have to tolerate the ordinary men with whistles masquerading as referees in the PSL?
In probably the most apt description of the officials by a coach yet, Roger de Sa - in a state of disbelief some years ago following yet another howler for the record books - labelled them as such, refusing to acknowledge them by the title given to their trade.
I am devastated to report that not much has changed since De Sa made those comments a few seasons ago. In fact the the standard of refereeing in this country has only gotten worse.
Referees continue to dominate the headlines of the local game and they were at it again over this past weekend, beginning with Friday’s league clash between Cape Town City and Polokwane City in the Mother City. On that night the opposing coaches, Benni McCarthy and Bernard Molekwa, nearly came to blows, not because they hate the sight of the other, but because the decisions taken by the man in the middle on the night were so bewildering that both dugouts thought there was a conspiracy manufactured by an external force.
Can you believe that McCarthy, in that moment of madness, blamed his colleague Molekwa? And vice versa? You can’t make this up.
My head is still spinning from just trying to recap what he was thinking when referee Cedric Muvhali first denied a legitimate goal, then allowed it, before he again changing his mind and restarting the game via a drop ball.
It is irrelevant now to get into the details of what was a night to forget for a young referee, whose name wouldn’t have been trending if it wasn’t for his dubious mistakes. What needs an explanation, however, is why are we are still being subjected to these eeny, meeny, miny, moe-type bloopers were Muvhali and his co-accused seem to employ elimination process rather than knowledge of the rules.
What I have observed is that he is a new face in this game and he is no improvement on those before him. In other words, the current crop of referees in the PSL are scapegoats to an extent. "Dr Evil" is sitting somewhere in an air-conditioned office, pulling the strings, cutting budgets and halting any sort of progress.
The custodians of football in this country are sitting back, quite literally, watching our league turn into a circus.
For years now there has been an outcry to turn the match officials into professionals - but suggestions that plans are afoot to begin some sort of competent wing for referees, has simply been a talk-shop.
Nobody seems to be catching a wake up call, it’s only coaches who are picking up phone calls to be informed that they have been sent packing. And Molekwa has admitted as much, that he expects to be unemployed in the coming weeks.
Sure, some of it is his own doing, in the sense that Polokwane City have now lost four matches in succession and are currently second from bottom of the log table after six league matches. But how many of points, picked up or dropped, having been influenced by the referee - and most recently Muvhali? Unfortunately, the answer to that question will make you grimace.
Muvhali needs to account for his errors, but it’s likely the trend will continue if South African football bosses don’t wake up from their slumber. The sluggards.