Choice of Mopani middle-man led to protest

Matome Lebea

It has surfaced that the decision to appoint a Mopani-based referee to officiate the match between Dundee United and Limpopo United triggered the suspended protest by the 17 referees.

One of the referees, who wished to remain anonymous, said an agreement was reached between them and regional president Vincent Ramphago for a neutral referee to be used from outside the region. The Mopani region has 35 referees.

"When we discovered that only the assistant referees were from Vhembe region, with the middle-man from our region, we resolved to go on the pitch to raise our concerns.

"Ramphago then agreed to change the referee and appointed the one from Vhembe. After that we left the ground and the match started," said the source about the game that had to be rescheduled after bad light stopped play.

Thomas Ndleve, Limpopo United's general manager was involved in a heated argument with Ramphago during a Thobela FM sports show this week over the same issue.

Ndleve told Sowetan yesterday said he suspected that the suspension of the Maponi referees' selector, Section Mabunda, was Ramphago's way of giving Dundee the edge over them, as Ramphago appointed the referees.

"We suspect that Ramphago influenced the so-called neutral referees, because they were not appointed according the proper channel, but instead they were directly hand-picked," claimed Ndleve.

He argues that this was because of an alleged "special relationship" between Ramphago and Dundee, which Dundee owner Nyambeni Tshifaro yesterday strongly dismissed.

"We are not friends with Ramphago. I only know him as the president of the Safa Mopani region and nothing else," he said.

"We are calling on the national office to institute a commission of inquiry to root out corruption in our region," pleaded Ndleve.

Ramphago declined to comment.