InsideSport: Referees should be divorced from clubs

Fifa technical instructor Felix Tangawarima leads local referees in a Fifa referees course in Harare last week

The Zifa referees committee should revisit the system of the past when referees were assigned to travel and officiate matches in areas which were far away from where they came from.

The new system of marrying referees to clubs is causing problems week-in and week-out although we are not saying referees are being bought to swing matches in favour of certain clubs.

Surely, referees from Chegutu, Kadoma, and Norton will try all they can to protect Ngezi Platinum Stars and Chegutu Pirates because they know that relegation of the two teams to Division One would also mean that they too would not have Premiership football to handle in the forthcoming season.

The same will obviously happen to referees from Kariba, Mutare, Hwange, Zvishavane, and Gweru because by protecting the teams within their areas they are also protecting their own interests.

Sometime back, we visited Pfupajena Stadium at a time Chegutu Pirates were facing relegation and were playing Lengthens which was top of the Northern Region Division One table then.

The officiating in that match was so atrocious in favour of the home team that even Zaire supporters themselves were shocked by the decisions on the field of play only to later learn that the referee actually worked for Chegutu Town Council — then the sponsors of Chegutu Pirates.

It's unfortunate that we have given Chegutu Pirates as an example but what we are simply saying is that a referee associated with a certain club should not be allowed to handle matches involving that particular club.

What we are also saying is that referees from Kariba should travel to handle matches in Mutare, Harare, Gweru, Zvishavane, or even Bulawayo while those in Bulawayo, Zvishavane in Harare should make the journey to Hwange, Kariba, or Mutare.

This system was so effective but was later abandoned on the basis that it was too costly for clubs, but surely if our top teams cannot afford referees' travelling costs then they do not deserve or qualify to play in the Premiership.

Equally so, is the fact that referees should not be assigned to handle three or so successive home games involving one team because this, in the long run, creates a bond and ultimately match fixing.

Surely, it was surprising to see Caps United fans behaving violently because they are not known to act in that manner but sometimes emotions boil far beyond estimations.

It was surely wrong for the Green Machine fans to scale the fence and invade the pitch and the Premier Soccer League should come hard on Makepekepe because they should be exemplary because of the Farai Jere factor.

Jere is the owner of Caps United and more importantly — in this case — the Premier Soccer League chairman and so it would be expected of the Green Machine to be a disciplined lot.

Sadly, though, it is CAPS United as a club that may lose out but in future it would be best for Zimbabwean football to come up with laws that make supporters responsible for their actions.

Such rowdy fans should be identified and banned from attending matches while those who go as far as manhandling the match officials should be arrested and brought before the courts.

Where they are right or wrong, football fans must learn that match officials are also human and can make mistakes and Europe accepted that and introduced VAR which in itself has proved not to be 100% perfect.

Young Africans of Tanzania and even other neutrals in South Africa are still talking about the Yanga 'goal' that crossed the line against Mamelodi Sundowns, but the referee still maintains that the ball did not go overboard.

Yanga could have qualified for the semifinals of the Caf Champions League by virtue of that 'goal' but still went out to lose out on post-match penalties but still their fans remained calm.

The Zifa referees committee can help the Zimbabwean situation by avoiding assigning referees linked with certain clubs to handle matches involving those particular teams because whatever they do would be viewed with suspicion.

There are referees who have publicly been identified as married to certain clubs and the authorities should ensure that they  handle matches outside their sphere of interest.

In short, we are saying, referees should travel far and wide to handle Castle Lager Premier Soccer League matches instead of being assigned matches in their home towns or those close by.


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