Referees letting down the game

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Mikia Kalati

Referees and their controversial officiating continue to hog the headlines for the wrong reasons in both the premier league as well as the lower divisions.

In some cases, the officiating has been so bad that the referees have ended up being assaulted not only by angry supporters, but even players, as well as club officials.

And this terrible refereeing is something we, as the football fraternity, will never tolerate.

It’s true that referees are human beings, just like the rest of us and they are bound to make mistakes, but some of them have become a disgrace to our beautiful game because of their ineptitude. We also hear that some of them are taking bribes to influence the outcome of matches especially in the A Division although this has never been proved.

Towards the end of the first round of the current A Division season, a referee was severely beaten-up, allegedly by Majantja players and officials.

Majantja were playing at home against Sky Battalion when this violence happened.

I will never encourage hooliganism in our football, which is why I feel the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) should cleanse its refereeing department and I also think a serious investigation would help the federation get to the bottom of the matter.

I have talked to a number of match officials who have confirmed that some of their colleagues take money to influence matches, which is not only a shame but only unfortunate.

Even some high-ranking officials working for the football mother-body have also admitted that there is something fishy going on in the referees department.

The fact of the matter is that club officials will do whatever it takes to make sure their teams succeed, but the referees must remain strong no-matter the temptation to take money and side a particular team in a game.

This corruption has been particularly rife in the A Division where 12 teams have to fight for the single automatic promotion spot into the premier league.

Some of us in the media fraternity watch these matches week-in and week-out and constantly  witness this chaos that is bringing our game into disrepute.

Unfortunately, some of the LeFA officials hardly attend lower-division matches where the corruption is very glaring so they could see how serious the issue is, and we only spot their faces at Setsoto stadium during Cup finals and international games.

Yet this rot in our game is something that needs to be taken very seriously and the sooner the authorities move to clean the sport, the better.

I know that as usual, the football authorities will vent their anger on the media for talking about these corrupt practices instead of dealing with the matter that has been preventing our football from progressing.

In the violence that took place when Majantja faced Sky Battalion, the former was widely condemned for the fighting, which of-course, was the right reaction because no-matter how angry the fans and players or even club officials could be, they should never take the law into their own hands but follow proper procedures to register their displeasure.

However, that does not give the referees the right to trash the hard work that would have been put in by the players and coaches throughout the week, by making shockingly biased judgments.

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