Botswana Football Association (BFA)’s last minute payment of referees has averted the league from facing another boycott from the whistle men during the league’s opening matches.
The match officials are said to have been planning to boycott the opening matches if the BFA did not pay them the money owed to them. The officials were paid late on Friday to appease them and start a new season on a clean slate.
The chairperson of Referees Commission, Eatametse Olopeng acknowledged that the BFA is struggling to pay the match officials on time because the association does not have sponsors for the officials.
He also observed that “the BFA has been struggling because the association is bankrupt and does not have money. Junior teams’ activities consume a lot of money from the BFA budget and often money that has been set aside for referees ends up being used in other pressing national teams’ activities.”
He believes that if the BFA does not do something to immediately address the situation, it will continue reoccurring in the future. Olopeng advised that “for the situation to be addressed fully, whenever the BFA negotiates sponsors it should include the match officials and the sponsorship should come as a package catering for all areas.”
He believes that if referees are not paid it will create a fertile ground for them to manipulate the matches and influence results after receiving bribes.
“Fortunately in Botswana we have dedicated officials who are professionals and shun bribes,” he said adding that “officials buy their own attire and without a proper source of finances it is difficult to assist them hence they are on their own in terms of attire and other needs.”
Last season referees boycotted opening matches which led to some matches being postponed in the last hour. The BFA then robbed in officials from disciplined forces to officiate in the opening match that launched the season.