KPL: Referees can’t be beyond reproach

We’ve all watched in horror the ‘best’ of Kenyan refereeing over the last few weekends or so in the Kenya Premier League and boy- I’m not just ashamed, I’m sad. If it’s not points being lost it’s the thought that a player will be thoroughly injured, the referee being the ‘authority’ he is will not be questioned, nobody will dare lift a hand and he/she will delightfully walk away scot free.

Wishing not to be called an inciter- I would refer every reader to a piece that appeared on this blog earlier in the year terming the system a whole let-down in the wake of ‘hooliganism’ claims on Kenyan Stands.

The fact that stares at all of us is that, teams that have a huge fan-base will get their uproar felt all over, the media will run to cover the event and even the ‘breakfast’ shows will make fun of it being a ‘LOYAL’ duty to defend what’s ‘rightfully’ yours and as Kenya is quickly getting accustomed to it- Accept and move on. Isn’t this shameless?

I will all drag you down memory lane- not so long ago in the second tier of English football. A manger I so badly delight watching do his job, his antics on and off the pitch and most importantly his reply to questions. Crystal palace manager Ian Holloway, somewhere in March this year- after a dive by his former player, Luke Varney (now playing for Leeds) to win a penalty against Crystal palace. One of the most shameful incidences in second-tier football followed. The swearing, the rage, incontrollable- the referee had made one huge mistake, it was gonna end in a draw- a match Holloway thought his side was gonna win. The story’s long but I’m gonna try and move to the point.

Video evidence

While accusations and counter accusations were thrown here and there- one thing stood for a fact, the video was never gonna lie.

Look at it- two guys were on the spot here- Ian and the referee.

The conclusion made to fine Ian came after the video was watched, conclusions reached and made public. Ian had to pay £2,000 fine for his ‘bad mouth’- something he gladly accepted and even made fun of it his MIRROR column. In this incident the referee was right- vindicated and off he walked away waiting for the next match day.

I’m not really sure whether we would praise the FA for putting measures in place or thank TV for providing us with content to help mediate such matters- one thing stands out, there can be a solution.

Kenyan Affair

In Kenya I must say, we really need to be proud of ourselves, yes- those of us who watch top-flight football. We have a body that appoints referees for matches and we also have TV in most matches. Can’t we blend the two to know which referee(s) is jeopardising the profession?

I’ll give an example. Those of us who did watch the Tusker v Sofapaka first leg match. Around the 40th minute mark, Thomas Wanyama, studs shown on the right hand flag sent a Tusker player to the floor- both studs in the air. Amazingly- even after clearly missing the ball the referee produced a yellow card.

Coach Matano didn’t complain but the worry is, should it have resulted into a serious injury for the Tusker player, what would have become of it? Fan power plays a role in some situations but in the full glare of cameras, the whole country watched that and clearly not so many good words were typed on social media after that.

It’s a shock the same official landed another high profile match (Thika v AFC Leopards) the next match day and though the incidences were far in between a questionable yellow card to Edwin Wafula in the early quarter of the match, left the young man living dangerously for the remaining part of the match.

It’s on this same blog that I once argued- the fans might be right in whatever way they express their anger as a result of previous mistakes that were never handled properly even after the match and the feeling in their minds that- in as much as they complain nothing will be done, makes it a no-bargain when it comes to ‘handling’ the referee.

There is always the campaign that there needs to be mutual respect between the match officials and the playing unit which I agree with wholly- but would you also agree, there is bound to be a mistake once in a  while and a few mad faces sometimes? Yes

I’m proud referee’s don’t get beaten anymore like in the past and with even stricter laws protecting them, it’s only fair these fans who pay lots, sacrifice their time get value for money.

Lastly, we need to all accept, Referee’s are very much part of the game. While Coaches can receive nasty mails, SMS’s tweets or even calls, players are subjects to all manner of atrocities for their sins on the pitch. If we are going to question a coach’s selection euphoria, a player missing a sitter- then let’s be fair, ref’s too can’t be beyond reproach. 

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