Refereeing system flawed

HARARE - A few weeks ago I received a “tipoff” from a Mutare football fan concerned about what he called dubious appointment of referees in the Premier Soccer League.  

The reader claimed, almost convincingly enough, that he had evidence pointing to the fact that referees from Mutare and Masvingo were getting preferential treatment in appointments as a reward for the role they played last season in the PSL promotion of a certain named club.

What a pretty sad indictment of our local refereeing fraternity if there is a smidgen of truth to these claims.

But then again, refereeing controversy is not unique to Zimbabwe.

It’s a global phenomenon which unfortunately appears to be on the rise, influenced by such factors as bribery, match-fixing or just downright bias towards another team by the men in the middle.

I have come to the conclusion that football referees, unlike officials from other sporting disciplines, hold too much influence and ought to have some of their powers clipped for the good of the game.

I grew up hearing the nonsensical adage that “the referee’s decision is final”, which is, of course, a lot of bull.

Referees must fully operate within the guidelines and laws laid out by Fifa without leaving anything whatsoever to their discretion because bestowing such power on a referee, who is only human at the end of the day, open the game and result to manipulation.

Too many game-changing decisions are left to the personal choice or judgment of the referee.

Take for instance the “hand-to-ball” rule.

I’m sure I am not the only one, but I am well and truly fed up of the way this rule is applied by different referees.

On far too many occasions I have seen referees awarding penalties for unintentional hand balls inside the box, and such decisions have gone on to change the complexion of the game or influence result.

In some instances, the referee wave away genuine hand ball appeals and get away with it.

Only last week Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson complained about the amount of added time given to his team following their 3-2 defeat to Tottenham Hotspurs.

While Sir Alex should be the last football coach to complain about refereeing decisions, his argument that referee Chris Foy ought to have added more than the four minutes he granted holds water.

What should be the amount of time added after play at the end of a match, and again, why should it be at the discretion of the referee instead of being determined by the actual time the ball spent out of play?

Who regulates referees?

For the integrity of football, Fifa must revamp the rules of refereeing because the current system is rotten to the core.

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