DURBAN – The Premier Soccer League (PSL) may be disappointed by the poor officiating that has blighted the game lately but local football’s professional body is content that those in charge of referees are doing their best to remedy the situation.
Acting PSL chief executive Mato Madlala has engaged the South African Football Association (Safa) on the issue and was left convinced that the mother body is not only equally concerned but are also taking measures to uplift the standard.
“I had a meeting with the technical committee of Safa and asked them to explain how they work. How often do they do their reviews? Do they do it for each and every game? Or they do it just for the live games?
I wanted to find out what they do thereafter. They explained that every game gets reviewed after which they suspend the ones (officials) found to have done anything wrong,” Madlala explained.
A number of PSL coaches have been hauled to the Disciplinary Committee for voicing their dissatisfaction at the poor manner in which their matches have been handled.
Madlala says Safa explained the situation they are in.
“They’ve got a long list of referees who are suspended. They are trying. There’s a certain pool of officials that gets trained and work for the whole season. In other instances, you find that they are forced to bring back the suspended referees because they would be in a situation where they don’t have match officials.”
The situation is often made worse on weekends where all the country’s tiers of the game are in action.
“On some weekends you find a situation where all the MDC teams are playing, all NFD teams are also playing and at the same time, the PSL is also in action. If the cream of the crop that is officiating in the PSL is suspended, you find that there are not enough match officials to handle matches. They have to punish those that fail in their duties but they also need to balance the act. It is not easy.”
One of the problems with the officiating stems from the fact that the match officials are not fulltime professionals.
“It is easy to insult them and say Safa is not doing anything. Each season there’s a pool that is trained to officiate the PSL, NFD and MDC games. So, they have that pool. If they suspend the majority of the referees they will be left with few match officials,” Madlala elaborated.
While Madlala’s PSL has hauled a few coaches to the DC for their comments about referees, the PSL CEO does acknowledge that the men on the benches are only doing what comes naturally to every football person.
“It is a game of emotions. You can go into the changeroom and beat up people because of anger. You can insult people because of emotions. You can even hit the referee if you are denied what you believe to be a legitimate goal or a penalty.
Coaches sometimes react emotionally. We haven’t spoken about that as a league but maybe we should review these interviews. Maybe they shouldn’t be done immediately after the game because at the time, the emotions are high. You say things and then when you watch TV after two days you regret.
If you talk about myself, it takes me 10 minutes to cool down. Maybe we should give them a certain period of time because we conduct interviews,” Madlala said.
“We need to find solutions. We also need to take into consideration the fact that the broadcasters need to cross over for interviews. But we must keep in mind coaches are human.”
Many have suggested that the PSL should introduce the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) but no word on that yet.