‘We do punish referees’, says Pule

‘We do punish referees’, says Pule

Luciah Phahla

Maseru – Referees Committee chairman Thabo Pule says match officials are punished if they are found to have performed poorly.
Pule’s words come after an outcry in recent weeks over the displays of match officials in the Vodacom Premier League.
On Sunday, Matlama supporters invaded the pitch in the last two minutes of a league game against Lioli forcing match officials to stop the match.
The angry fans felt they deserved a penalty after a Matlama player was brought down in the opponent’s box but the referee waved played on.
What angered the fans more is Lioli had just taken a 2-1 lead through a penalty.
Pule said the Referees Committee reviews the performance of match officials and if it feels referees deserve to be punished the committee does so.
However, Pule also maintained that fans who complain are normally the ones on the losing side who are using match officials as a scapegoat.
“Let me give an example: say in 10 games there are seven people complaining about the match official, most of the time you will see that the people that are complaining are from the losing side. Why?
Because maybe they were expecting to win and it didn’t happen,” the veteran administrator told thepost yesterday.
“Match officials do make mistakes just like anyone, sometimes you will realise he did not see something because there were two or three people in front of him blocking his view which is bad positioning,” Pule added.
He said fans unfairly blame match officials.
“You will find out that their players missed at least four scoring opportunities and the referee makes one mistake then he is the scapegoat, the fans suddenly forget the goals missed. However, we do punish the officials,” Pule said.
Asked how the Referees Committee deals with match officials, Pule said if it finds a Premier League referee guilty of a sub-standard display he gets side-lined for a number of matches.
“For Premier League referees sometimes we put them aside for a number of games or demote them to the B-Division if we feel his performance was bad, just so he can improve,” he said.
Unlike the Premier League which publicises punishments imposed on teams found guilty of misconduct, Pule defended the Referees Committee for not making the punishments of referees public saying fans could use them against match officials as well as affecting them mentally.
“It’s different, the premier league punishes teams, it’s a lot of people involved in that case so they can make it public.
“But if we make it public that we have demoted a certain referee to the B-Division or sidelined him for certain number of games, when he comes back fans could use it against him and shout at him ‘that’s why they punished you’ and it can affect you mentally. Your dignity gets dented,” Pule explained.
Pule continued that since the committee only has four senior referees in the country it is possible the same referee can be in-charge of one team’s matches regularly.
“For bigger matches like ones involving Matlama, Bantu and Lioli we always send senior referees and unfortunately there are only four in the country, which means it is highly possible that a referee can make a mistake now and anger the supporters and in no time be in-charge of their game again before they can even forget or forgive him for his past mistakes.
“It is possible because they are only a few (senior match officials),” Pule said.

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