SA's top refs froze in cold
SOUTH African football's chief of referees has blamed the cold weather on the failure of top officials in pre-season physical examinations.
Only one of the country's top 10 referees on the elite panel passed the tests on Sunday.
Daniel Bennett, who is headed to the World Cup in 2014 and has been strenuously working out with his own physical trainer in recent months, was the only referee to pass from the elite panel.
South African Football Association (Safa) head of referees Adeel Carelse said he pleaded with the Fifa instructors in charge of the fitness tests on Sunday to postpone them because of the weather.
"It was a terrible morning. The wind chill factor was extremely high. Wind was blowing at between 40 and 45 knots," said Carelse. He said the Fifa instructors, Carlos Henriques and Felix Tangwarima, decided to continue - "and I think it was the wrong call".
Fifa - not Safa - is in charge of testing the referees.
"The fact that most of the linesmen passed their physical tests because they started two hours later (than the elite panel), when the conditions cleared up and the sun began to come out, is proof that the conditions were not right," said one official who was at the examination. "The refs' tests should not have happened."
Referees and match commissioners who attend the tests as part of their pre-season preparations criticised the decision to go ahead with the tests early.
The top 10 referees were tested early in the morning while the other 70 were tested later in the day, once the weather had warmed up. Altogether 59 of the full complement of 80 referees passed.
The referees' course, which started on Friday, will be completed today and those elite referees who failed will be given a second chance before the season starts, said Carelse.
Ordinarily a six-week break between tests is standard procedure, but because of the potential crisis at the start of the new PSL season, the referees' committee will call for a new examination this week, according to insiders. This will be done to avoid the possibility that the opening Premier Soccer League games next month are handled by rookies and less experienced referees.
In the past, match officials who failed or missed the tests through illness or injury had to wait six months for the next exam before they could get back on the panel of referees and linesmen. Of SA's five current Fifa referees, Victor Hlungwani, Lwandile Mfiki and Daniel Volgraaf all failed, while Victor Gomes was sick. They are also part of the elite panel.
The deadline for the submission of names to Fifa for the international panel is September so the failed refs still have time to retain their badges, which is their passport to international assignments.