PSL to foot bill for crisis intervention

Sipho Mthembu

Sipho Mthembu

The Premier Soccer League has admitted there is a refereeing crisis and is prepared to foot the bill for intervention measures while waiting for the Operation Dribble report into corruption in the sport.

The first intervention comes in the form of an indaba at the Pretoria High Performance Centre on Monday.

The league has agreed to foot the bill for transport, overnight accommodation and fees for sports psychologists who will address the referees - a tab that belongs to the South African Football Association.

"We are looking at very little change from a few hundred thousand rand," PSL chief executive Trevor Phillips said yesterday.

While Phillips would not readily admit to any corruption or match fixing, it is clear he takes the allegations or perceptions seriously.

"There is nothing we can do until we get the Operation Dribble report. It will not even come to us, but Safa.

"For now, we will have to do our best to boost the referees' morale. It is very low after taking a heavy hammering from you guys in the last few weeks," Phillips said.

Phillips also has a few measures up his sleeves that he feels could be implemented as soon as possible to stem the tide of controversy.

"We can adopt the German format wherein all matches are reviewed half an hour after the game with the match commissioner, referee, fourth official, the two assistant referees and a representative from each team, preferably the coach," he said.

"But that would require we first set up fully equipped technical rooms at all venues. We have PVRs [personal video recorders] and other high-tech equipment that can rewind, fast-forward and even freeze the images for conclusive evidence," he explained.

"There is really no point having a review sitting after three weeks as by then the players have already served their suspensions in some cases."

While the review panel might not immediately have powers, it will tie in with the technical committee proposed in an independent referees structure.

The technical committee would be the highest sub-committee in the referees structure with the powers to approve the referees panel, act on recommendations made by the review committee, remove referees from the panel and even take punitive action it deems necessary against any referee .

Clearly, though, most of these structures will only be fully functional when the independent referees structure is fully operational.

Phillips said running a professional, independent structure will cost in the region of R20 million a season.

"Look, I am already spending R10 million on refereeing so we basically require only half. We can raise R6 million from sponsorship, and I think with a strong educational and development component, we can find R4 million lying in some government department," Phillips added.

Phillips maintains that his proposed independent referees structure with an own managing director would ensure the ongoing training, development and fitness of match officials.

Meanwhile, Safa Referees Committee chairman Kirsten Nematendani blasted Operation Dribble investigators this week, accusing them of leaking information to the media before reporting to Safa.