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Refereeing 'a joke' in the PSL

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Gomes & Middendorp clash

Gomes & Middendorp clash

The standard of refereeing in the Premier Soccer League has once again been called into question following more contentious displays from the men in the middle.

Confidence on the officiating front in the Premiership looked shaky, to say the very least, from before a ball had even been kicked this season, with a reported 85 percent of referees at the South African Football Association's pre-season seminar failing their fitness tests.

This term has seen a growing rise in referee complaints from the respective PSL managers, while further questionable displays from the match officials over the last week left those bosses seething.

Moroka Swallows tactician Zeca Marques accused Victor Gomes of deciding the outcome of their clash against football betting fan's favourite Kaizer Chiefs in November after Lehlohonolo Majoro scored in the seventh minute of added-time - an amount Marques was unable to account for - to hand Amakhosi a 3-2 win.

The flamboyant Gomes, known for his exuberant gestures and supporter interaction on the field of play, was again called into question on Friday night as Maritzburg United coach Ernst Middendorp described the ref to Kick-Off as "a joke" after he directed his third red card in two games to the Team of Choice as they went down 1-0 to Ajax Cape Town.

And on Saturday afternoon, during South Africa's biggest footballing extravaganza, the Soweto derby, both Orlando Pirates boss Roger de Sa and Kaizer Chiefs counterpart Stuart Baxter were left flummoxed by some of the decisions made by the man in charge of that one, Robert Smith.

De Sa described the official's performance as a "lucky packet" meaning it was hard to enjoy games as a fan or to set odds for bookmakers like Paddy Power, and Baxter, while understanding the strains of officiating any football match, believes there has to be an improvement from the men in black if the younger players are to understand the true rules of the game.

"Officiating is a massively difficult thing and I know and understand in a game like this, they (referees) are also under pressure. But if we talk about the development of South African football, it is an area that needs to develop," the Englishman said after the 1-1 draw at Soccer City.

"Developing young players need to know what defending is. Is this a good tackle, or should it be a red card? If we don't know how do we coach it?"

Looking back on Smith's performance during this weekend's encounter, Baxter was highly critical in his assessment, adding: "I think that one went backwards and forwards too much for my liking. We didn't really know at the finish if we were going to get a corner, a goal kick, a yellow card, or a throw in.

"When you are awarding points out of 10 for a player, you should talk about the referee as well."

There appears to be a complete lack of mutual respect between the players and the referees, though, but the latter may have to step up and take responsibility for that one, given the frustration that questionable, or downright incorrect calls, must have on the 22 men out on the field.

By Ryan Gordon

Comment on this story by emailing football@teamtalkmedia.com and we'll share your thoughts here.

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Reader comments:

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I think this is a cruicial aspect of South African football,the standard of the game diminishes due to the shift of focus from the football to officiating. For example this past weekend, Orlando Pirates lost two points because of wrong decisions... the second Collins Mbesuma goal was a legitimate one,if you look at the rules I think it stipulates that if a last contact was from a defending opponent and goes to the attacker who is in an offside position, that is not an offense in itself, the goal should have been allowed and Pirates could have won the game.

Aphendulwe Ndzunge from Port Elizabeth

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Posted: 10/12/12 12:26

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