The Botswana Football Association (BFA) is far from solving its stand-off with the referees. This came out into the open after those who boycotted the opening league fixtures were ignored second week of the BTC Premier League weekend fixtures.
Sources at the BFA headquarters suggest that the referees were once told that they would be suspended from duty but they never received letters to that effect.
The BFA is alleged to be ready to start issuing over 10 officials with suspension letters for what they term misconduct. “We cannot be suspended for demanding payment. We did not commit any offence that warrants suspension” said the referees.
Among those alleged to be on the verge of suspension are Lekgotla Johannes, Tirelo Mositwane, Lucas Nku, Leteng Magogwe, Moemedi Tlhabologang, Patrick Paraminase, Bakwena Simankalele, Kitso Sibanda, Tirelo Ramatlakapela, Mogomotsi Morakile, Mokiri Lentse, Thuto Maswabi and Bryan Batoko.
According to sources, former referees from the army have since been recalled to come and train new referees from the disciplined forces. “Israel Malena, a former referee who works at the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), has been roped in to train young referees from the army” said the sources. The idea behind recruiting new match officials from the discipline force is to be guaranteed that even if the BFA or the league fails to pay them they will still officiate.
The snubbing of match officials have resulted in some referees having to double games on weekend. Those who officiated the Friday match between Orapa United and Mochudi Centre Chiefs were expected to travel to Maun to officiate between Sankoyo Bush Bucks and Nico United. Those who conducted the match between Gilport Lions and Police XI on Friday were also fixtured to go to Lobatse on Saturday take control of Security Systems and Miscellaneous match. Those who officiated between Green Lovers and Extension Gunners on Friday were also expected to go to Molepolole on Sunday to manage the match between BDF XI and Mahalapye Hotspurs.
Football people are of the feeling it is not ideal for match officials to do two matches within a space of 24 hours as it will affect their health. The new dispensation also exposes referees to many trips which might put their lives on danger.
The referees development officer for Africa is expected in Gaborone to conduct a referees course next week. He is also expected to address the challenges faced by referees and give the way forward. Top local referees have been at war with BFA over unpaid allowances.