Patrick Maswanganyi Orlando Pirates referees

Patrick Maswanganyi of Orlando Pirates remonstrates with referee Jelly Chavani during the DStv Premiership football match between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs at Soccer City in Johannesburg. Image: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Fans don’t know the rules says top PSL ref

Abdul Ebrahim has come out to defend performances by PSL match officials, who have been slammed by coaches, pundits and fans over the season.

Patrick Maswanganyi Orlando Pirates referees

Patrick Maswanganyi of Orlando Pirates remonstrates with referee Jelly Chavani during the DStv Premiership football match between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs at Soccer City in Johannesburg. Image: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

South African Football Association (Safa) head of referees Abdul Ebrahim has come out to defend performances by DStv Premiership match officials, who have been slammed by coaches, pundits and fans over the season.

Numerous decisions have been questioned and the belief is that VAR will do little to solve those issues.

Referees under fire 

Sundowns coach Rhulani Mokwena accused the powers of football in South Africa of allowing unqualified and underperforming officials to control matches.

“I take the same stance as [Cape Town Spurs coach] Ernst Middendorp when he said you see a lot being done for the qualifications of coaches, who have to do this and that,” he told SuperSport TV

“I sometimes see, and it is unofficial [what Mokwena is told], but it breaks out even before the season starts.

“There are tests referees have to undergo and then you hear ‘Someone failed the test’. A few weeks later you see him [the same official] officiating a game, but you heard this guy failed a referees’ test. 

“I don’t know if it’s the PSL [Premier Soccer League] or Safa, but I think it’s Safa as custodians of football. Maybe they have to look at this situation. How many of our referees do international games, and why are they not doing international games? 

“As much as we want to be represented by players internationally, who is a South African referee who went to the World Cup?

“For how many years we only had Abongile Tom and Zakhele Siwela representing us [internationally]? 

“Who is coming after in the Caf Champions League, who is doing games from South Africa? Even in international friendly games there are no South African referees and that should reflect on the state of the situation. 

“Because if they were good enough, their work will speak for them, they would be doing more international games and featuring more on the global stage.

“It’s easy to say, ‘let’s get VAR’, but it is also run by a human.”

Happy with officials

Ebrahim admitted officials will continue to make mistakes but feels that the errors are far from unacceptable.

“I am happy with the performances of all match officials; they make mistakes, but we deal with those mistakes,” Ebrahim said, according to Times Live.

“It doesn’t mean if someone makes a mistake, all of a sudden they are a poor person. It doesn’t mean if two referees make a mistake, refereeing is all of a sudden poor.

“Errors have been happening, and our review committee deals with them. This is the norm every season — when something is wrong, we try our best to fix it,” he said. 

Ignorance is driving outrage

Ignorance of the rules twists public perception according to the official.

“We are concerned but it doesn’t mean mistakes are happening regularly, but people are saying mistakes are happening. Sometimes when we [Safa’s review committee] analyse we get something different to what people are assuming,” he added. 

“It is disappointing because the public in South Africa don’t know the Laws of the Game, how they are applied and how they should be understood.

“The first thing they jump to is the error, ‘the referee made a mistake and it cost us the game’. 

“There is nothing we can do about that because it is people’s right to say whatever they want to and when they want to say it. It is important when they [decisions] get to our review committee, they come up with the necessary recommendations and decisions.”