Ghana FA bans referee whose error disrupted league calendar for life

Goal Ghana
After relegated Olympics unsuccessfully sought to exploit his error in court, referee Reginal Lathbridge has been handed a life suspension

Ghana Premier League referee Reginald Lathbridge has been suspended indefinitely by the Football Association, a statement said on Tuesday.

Lathbridge was the central man when Bechem United hosted Elmina Sharks on matchday seven of the topflight last season.

His ‘wrongdoing’ led to the recent legal battle between the FA and Great Olympics, effectively holding up the league from starting for weeks – due to a court order – until last weekend.

“The Disciplinary Committee has decided to ban Referee Reginald Lathbridge for life from taking part in all football related activities (administrative, sports and any other) at national and international levels having been found guilty of the charges brought against him by the GFA Prosecutor,” the FA have announced.

“Referee Reginald Lathbridge at a hearing at the Disciplinary Committee apologised to all stakeholders of the game and admitted the charge of failing to submit a complete and accurate Match Report to the GFA in the Matchday 7 of the 2016/2017 Ghana Premier League match played between Bechem United FC and Elmina Sharks FC at Bechem thereby bringing the game into disrepute.

“Referee Reginald Lathbridge's actions are held to have been in violation of Articles 22 and 35(7)(d) in the GFA General Regulations and other regulations in respect of this matter.

“The Disciplinary Committee states that the importance of the Match Official's Reports in football cannot be overemphasised in view of Article 85 of the GFA Disciplinary Code which presumes that the Referee's Report is accurate and considered authoritative regarding matters on incidents that take place on the field of play and the far-reaching consequences any inaccuracy may lead to.”

One of three demoted clubs from the topflight last season, Olympics were forced to go to court over the GFA Disciplinary Committee’s decision to throw out the protest concerning Bechem United and Elmina Sharks.

Last season, Olympics finished second from bottom on the table, but a ruling in their favour would have kept them in the elite division.

Goal understands Lathbridge wrongfully recorded a booking for Bechem United's Joseph Amoah instead of Elmina Sharks’ Felix Addo, making the former ineligible to play against Hearts of Oak. Amoah, though, faced the Phobians.

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Following their relegation at the end of the season, Olympics sought to take advantage of the mistake as they filed a protest against Bechem for ''fielding an illegible Amoah''.

Their protest was thrown out as the player was actually eligible.

Aggrieved by the decision, Olympics went to court, leading to two separate injunctions, which prevented the new season from starting as scheduled.