Referees up in arms

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MASERU — A full season has almost passed since the Imperial Top Eight and Buddie Top 4 tournaments were held.

However, eight months on, the match officials who handled the two competitions say they are yet to be given awards or prize money for their performances.

“Referees have not been given their medals or their prize money,” a top match official who asked to remain anonymous told the Lesotho Times this week.

“We (referees) just want to know whether our awards have been forgotten or if they have gone down the drain altogether.”

This episode seems to be another setback for Lesotho’s referees who receive a paltry M100 per match.

Rethusitsoe Lebaka, public relations officer for the Lesotho Referees Association, confirmed that match officials had not been awarded any trophies or prize money for the Imperial Top Eight and Buddie Top 4 tournaments.

“Yes, referees have not been given these things,” he said.

Such awards normally come from tournament sponsors through the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA).

“This is the first time this has happened. Two years ago we were paid on time,” Lebaka, himself a referee, told this paper.

However, though not denying the claims, LEFA painted a very different picture.

“This is not a case of any awards going down the drain,” acting LEFA chief executive officer Mokhosi Mohapi told the Lesotho Times this week.

“One problem is that the match commissioners did not do their job of picking who the awards should go to,” Mohapi said.

“Once the match commissioners choose who the awards should go to then we can proceed further.

Mohapi alleged that the Lesotho Referees Association’s vice-secretary, Mokhotle Mohapinyane, approached the tournaments’ over the awards and payment without LEFA’s blessings.

“Mohapinyane went to the sponsors showing that he has no faith in the association.

“It also shows that he is acting on his own behalf,” Mohapi said.

Mohapi said Mohapinyane should provide minutes of the meeting at which he was instructed by the referees’ union to write the letter to prove he wasn’t on a personal mission.

“When Mohapinyane brings us the minutes of the meeting then we will hand out the awards to those officials that deserve them,” he said.

Baba Malephane, chairman of the Referees Executive Committee, meanwhile, insisted that match commissioners had submitted the reports required to select award recipients.

Malephane said the major problem lay in the referees’ association.

“Referees are let down by their own committee which does not have the referees’ best interests at heart,” he claimed.

Mohapinyane refused to comment.

“This case has already got me into deep trouble and I would not like to comment any further,” he said.

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