JOHANNESBURG – Several years ago, two PSL coaches agreed that the one thing they appreciate about referee Victor Gomes is that he was decisive. The whistleman doesn’t waste time or pussyfoot in making a big call, they both argued.
But one of these club coaches also labelled the one-time Referee of the Year a “disgrace” in a week in which Gomes dished out six red cards in two matches.
You’d think things would have changed from his perspective by now, especially given how Safa came under criticism for failing in their attempts to deal with 'rouge agent' Gomes.
In 2014, Gomes had also embarrassed the organisation by dishing out 11 penalties in four games, five of those spot kicks being awarded in a single game, earning him the nickname “Penaldinho”.
A member of Safa anonymously told a reporter that the referee needed to be recommended to a shrink. I am not sure if he ever did go see one.
To be honest, his latest antics suggest he never quite bothered. But I am proposing Safa get on this one more time because the man clearly has a problem.
Gomes, who sometimes splits the football fraternity down the middle with his decisions, stole the show again last Friday in a league clash between Cape Town City and log-leaders Mamelodi Sundowns at Athlone Stadium.
The first dubious call on the night came early in the first half when he sent Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane to the stands for complaining that the foul given against left-back Tebogo Langerman on winger Craig Martin shouldn’t have been given.
By simply protesting and throwing his arms in the air, Mosimane was told to leave the dug out - some 20 minutes into the match.
And then just before the break, goalkeeper Denis Onyango hacked City midfielder Thabo Nodada outside the penalty area. Gomes correctly blew his whistle for a foul and was reaching into his back pocket for a red card before appearing to change his mind and showing the Sundowns stand-in captain a yellow one instead.
Meanwhile, Nodada was substituted and being given a couple of stitches on his shin, such was the seriousness of the challenge by Onyango.
To their credit, both teams continued to give the fans a show - striker Percy Tau producing a moment of brilliance in setting up Khama Billiat for the only goal of the game in the second half. But by then Gomes had grabbed the headlines, leading to more questions about this state of mind in refereeing elite matches.
Here’s what is completely surprising about this referee: you’d think he has an identical twin who is also on the Fifa panel of match officials because he exudes confidence and is far from rash when in charge of important games on the continent.
Maybe he is taking advantage of the fact that South African football fans, while they may be baying for his blood from the stands, are not as hostile as their counterparts in other African countries.
Can you imagine what would happen to Gomes if he made countless questionable calls in a game between DRC’s TP Mazembe and Egypt’s Al Ahly in a Caf Champions League match for instance? But here at home he gets away with it repeatedly.
Gomes needs a shrink, pronto!