With many coaches and administrators having voiced concerns regarding the state of refereeing in the Premier Soccer League (PSL), South African legend Philemon Masinga reckons match officials are also human beings.
However, he has called for Video Assistant Referee (VAR) to be introduced in the local game because many clubs are becoming victims of wrong decisions.
“I think they are human beings and mistakes are bound to happen, but I am one of those people who are calling for the introduction of VAR. It is needed because it plays a crucial part in game whether you concede a penalty or score a goal, it helps a lot,” Masinga told Goal.
The disallowed goal was ruled for an offside where Themba Zwane was adjudged to have been in an offside position, but the replay showed he did not interfere with play.
Nonetheless, Masinga reckons the PSL was right to introduce young referees for them to learn in the top tier.
“I think we also need the young ones and they must be promoted. They cannot be at the lower leagues forever – they need to be motivated,” said the former Mamelodi Sundowns striker.
“They also need to be groomed and drafted into the PSL and we can also have them going to international tournaments. These things will always happen not only in the PSL, they happen in the Uefa and Caf Champions League, and these are the issues in football everywhere,” he noted.
“I mean you are in charge of officiating and managing a game played by 22 players, the coaches are there as well where you must also calm their emotions – mistakes will happen,” he responded.
“I am not saying referees or the mistakes are correct or justified, but I also don't think they commit them intentionally,” said the former Jomo Cosmos forward.
Although the players, coaches and the supporters and even club bosses have vented their anger and frustrations towards referees, 'Chippa' says it is unfortunate that the referee's decision is final.
“It hurts to the goalscorer or the team that was due for a penalty end up not getting a legitimate goal, but we all remember in 1986 at the World Cup when Diego Maradona scored using his hand,” he recalled.
“It left many people unhappy, there were demonstrations and he is still called a cheat in England even today, but that decision stood and the goal was allowed,” he explained.
“Even though the decision cannot be changed, I would personally like to see referees going back to review their matches and learn from their mistakes to become critical of their actions,” he urged.
On the other hand, the errors and calls for an improved officiating come after the South African Football Association (Safa) recently announced a partnership with an insurance company to improve the standard of refereeing.
However, Masinga told Goal that getting new sponsors for referees is part of Safa's Vision 2022 to develop the game, including referees and results cannot happen overnight.
“I think the PSL is part of Safa and they can come together to look at the problems with referees. Safa becomes the custodians of football in the country whilst Sascoc leads all the federations,” he continued.
“The sponsorship came at the right time because Safa is busy with Vision 2022 where they want to develop not only the players, but coaches, referees and administrators,” noted Masinga.
“We always say a good player cannot be a bad player overnight, that can be said about referees because sometimes we criticise them for one mistake and forget about the 90 minutes,” he reacted.
“What hurts is that their decision is final and we can't reverse it. To finalise, I am one of those people who are calling for VAR. Fifa must intervene to help the associations and ensure there are no more complaints about the officials,” concluded the legend.