For a long time Botswana has never had a referee officiating at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament. It was only this year when an assistant referee went to officiate at the Afcon which was held in Equatorial Guinea. Despite having not had a referee at an Afcon tournament, local referees have had a hand in club African competitions and some African junior championships. Recently, local referees have also consistently featured in either World Cup or Afcon qualifications.
In the coming week, a local referee, Joshua Bondo and, assistant referees, Oamogetse Godisamang and Meshack Medupe, and fourth official Lekgotla Johannes will be away in Dakar to officiate a match between Senegal and Madagascar. Despite the participation of local referees in some important international matches, Afcon seems to be eluding them. Most referees are mainly from West, Central and North Africa while only a few come from Southern Africa. Some people are asking whether local referees do not do well in FIFA examinations and even regular fitness tests. Former local referee Dintwe Dintwe told The Telegraph Sports that local referees are competitive internationally, but the criterion to select referees by CAF is never clearly spelt out. He said local referees always do well in FIFA examinations and even fitness tests.
“Every time our referees take part in FIFA tests or examinations, they normally do well than most referees across African continent. And every time they are given an opportunity to officiate at international matches they normally do well. Why they never officiate at major tournaments especially Afcon, CAF can explain that better. It is a surprise because some referees on the African continent that do not do well compared to the local ones are sometimes selected at the expense of ours” he said. Dintwe would not be drawn into whether CAF has always had ulterior motives against countries like Botswana. On the other hand, one former referee told The Telegraph Sports that CAF is polarised by politics and never selects referees on merit.
“At CAF it is all about who you are aligned to but not how good you are in the field of play. African countries especially those from West Africa always have the most referees on major tournaments no matter how pathetic they are when officiating. We have good referees here in Botswana who can even go all the way and officiate at the World Cup,” he said.