The recent sidelining of the referee and linesmen who officiated at the Mainland premiership Dar es Salaam derby between Simba and Young Africans mid last week is evidence of poor selection of match officials by the Tanzania Football Federation.
It was shocking, to say the least, seeing the referee terribly fail to appropriately and promptly evoke the rules and regulations governing soccer.
The referee was on several occasions so ridiculously “lenient” as to tolerate blatant fouls players committed with virtual impunity, thus denying either side decisions that would have ensure fairness.
Whether the referee sought to go down is history as having played “neutral” (instead of professional) is not very clear, though it would all the same have been hopeless officiating – which it indeed was!
The referee contributed a lot to the results of the game, in which there was neither winner nor loser, but the quality of the officiating was a disgrace.
What the referee did not know is that ignoring offences committed by players of both sides did not absolve him; surely some of his decisions were a mockery of a game that is the darling of millions upon millions of people across the globe.
The information we have is that TFF has a handsome line-up of referees able to handle matches professionally. Thus, the failure by the federation’s technical committee to observe and analyse competence of the referees before assigning them calls for serious explanation.
We have had domestic-based referee who officiated similarly crucial derbies without eliciting complaints from either side, regardless of the match results. Why didn’t TFF make use of such referees, or was it out to experiment with the snake to gauge the potency of the poison it could emit?
Having a FIFA badges is by itself no guarantee of quality performance; competence demands such other values as personal discipline, honest and integrity.
TFF should not recoil from outsourcing referees if that would help ensure fairness in crucial matches that draw the attention of multitudes. It’s high time it saw the importance of ensuring that officiating at all matches is as fair and professional as humanly possible.
Lack of fairness not only tarnishes the image of both the national soccer federation and Tanzania soccer generally but also eats into the excitement of playing and watching the game.
It is well known that, just like other soccer lovers, referees have the right to love particular teams. But that is the farthest it should go: it should not translate into failing or refusing to adhere to professional and ethical practice on the pitch.
Of all aspects of football administration, fairness by referees on the pitch is of a paramount importance if teams, fans and officials are to play or watch soccer and leave the stadium fully satisfied with whatever the results are.