Refs’ committee has to do more to protect referees

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Referees’ performance can make or break football as an industry. Zimbabwean referees have been attacked by players, coaches, and fans.

Amid all this, they have nowhere to run to.

Their safe house, the referees committee, has not offered enough help and protection to enable the referees to perform at their best.

Referees are secretly punished for trivial and inconsequential incidents by the referees’ committee whenever there is an outcry over officiating.

But nothing has been done to better equip them to perform better. Nothing has been done to protect them from physical harm from players, coaches, and fans.

Jimmy Makwanda has a head injury, Edgar Rumeck was hurt on the arm. Where was the security?

A police officer was hit on the head on the day that Edgar Rumeck was injured, his hat saved him.

There is need for better forms of security to protect both the referees and the police from hooligans’ missiles.

Selfish football stakeholders ruining the game

Emotionally invested players, coaches, and fans often contest referees’ decisions out of selfish intentions, but it is these noises that are leading to the punishment of referees.

Norman Mapeza (FC Platinum vs Herentals) Baltemar Brito (Highlanders vs Chicken Inn), and the Chicken Inn Twitter handler (Chicken Inn vs Caps United) are examples of instances where accusations were thrown but there was little to nothing that the referees had done wrong

Brito later apologised for wrongly accusing Allen Bhasvi of denying Highlanders a goal that was clearly an offside.

These coaches and staffers’ comments and behaviour lead to the targeting of referees by players and fans.

FC Platinum players lost the ball vs Herentals after Lawrence Mhlanga’s attempt to quickly restart play had failed, and they mobbed the ref accusing him of bias.

This is one of many examples where players and coaches are using referees as scapegoats for their failures.

The referees committee has to publicly protect its referees by bringing evidence whenever their members are wrongly accused and attacked.

While coaches study a module on laws of the game, their knowledge is inadequate to make them expert referee assessors.

Some coaches like Thulani Sibanda of Triangle rightly admit that they don’t have enough knowledge to comment on referees’ decisions, especially before any video review.

It’s refreshing that the Premier Soccer League charges coaches who overstep.

Technology can help

The referees committee has to invest in improving working conditions for referees. While fans may have phones to record incidents and instantly review them, referees only rely on their pairs of eyes to make important split-second decisions.

At the very least, local referees should be using communication tools so that they can help each other make decisions in real time. From the referee to the fourth official.

We cannot match Zambia that has already had its first match using Video Assistant Referee [VAR] technology, but the referees’ committee has to bring innovation to help referees work better.

Referees’ Committee has to do more

At a time when a lot of things are simply bad in Zimbabwe, bitter people are finding referees as an easy target to vent their frustrations on.

Those who don’t know about laws of the game have to be educated before they kill referees.

It’s also upon the referees’ committee to educate fans, players, and coaches on the latest laws of the game.

Referees are professionals, but they are also human. While referees in other places have several technological tools to help them make good decisions, Zimbabwean referees have nothing except their blinking eyes and traumatised minds.

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