Despite mounting complaints about the styles of refereeing at the ongoing FIFA World Cup games in Germany, the Principal of Botswana football referee’s commission Harries Lebotse is happy.
Not because he particularly rubberstamps recent horrendous refereeing mistakes, but simply because local football followers will appreciate that even the most qualified referees in the World arena can make some errors of judgments.
Lebotse’s position is that local referees have always been crucified by football fanatics for bad refereeing.
He says World Cup mistakes highlight the fact that referees are also human and can commit mistakes, some of them costly.
Lebotse’s assertions follow the much publicized officiating of a World Cup tie between European giants Holland and Portugal. Russian referee Valentin Ivanov bizarrely flashed sixteen yellow cards and four red.
Ivanov did not escape the wrath of FIFA President Sepp Blatter who said that the referee was not up to the level of the players.
“There could have been a yellow card for the referee,” Blatter was quoted saying.
Lebotse said that he felt bad for Ivanov because he had to make decisions immediately like any other referee would do.
“We must appreciate that referees don’t have the benefit of the replay as we spectators do. He had to make decisions immediately,” he said.
Lebotse however said that as a referee, sometimes one had to ignore trivial offences as more serious offences are likely to happen as the game hits top gear. He made reference to the sending off of Portugal’s Brazilian born playmaker Deco. His second booking raised eyebrows as many felt he did nothing to warrant a booking.
“To make matters worse, his second yellow meant that he had to walk out as he already had a yellow,” said Lebotse.
Lebotse said all in all, the referees are just following the rules without sometimes letting some trivial fouls go in the spirit of the game.
BOPA Reporter Aupa Mokotedi said he was disappointed by the standard of refereeing at the World Cup. He suggested that an enquiry be undertaken as some of the decisions are clearly deliberate.
“Perhaps someone is benefiting here,” he lamented.
A Gunners supporter Kolagano “Shaka” Okaeng said that he had never seen such kind of refereeing in his whole life.
“These referees would get a real beating if they could be assigned to officiate in Lobatse!” said Okaeng.