As the Be MOBILE Premier League season comes to end with a lot at stake, referees are up in arms, demanding more protection against the abuse they face almost every weekend from coaches and team officials.
BMC coach, Daniel ‘Chicco’ Nare, blasted referee Tebogo Ramocha on national television after his side went down 2-1 against defending champions Township Rollers at the Molepolole Sports Complex.
Nare questioned the integrity of Ramocha as a senior referee and even made allegations that the centre-man has been targeting his side in recent times. Some referees feel that if it was in another country, Nare would have been banned for a long period.
Nare’s comments are said not to have gone down well with Ramocha, who even threatened to quit the game.
According to reliable sources, Ramocha even threatened to take legal action against the BMC coach but was convinced by Referees’ Commission authorities that they will address the matter with the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Premier League office to see if there is any action that can be taken against Nare.
“It was painful to see a coach of Nare’s caliber saying those kinds of things on television. The bad thing is that we do not have the platform to respond to such allegations. We’re not saying we should not be criticized but it has to be constructive. The criticism was done on national television and it has not done Ramocha any good. You have to bear in mind that we’re volunteers to this game and if the association or Premier League office is not doing anything, we might end up seeing some of these referees quitting the game,” said a source.
The source further revealed that Ramocha was on the firing line when Mochudi Centre Chiefs hosted Tafic last weekend as players did not give him the respect he deserved because of the recent outburst by Nare.
“It took lots of guts for him to come through in that game. It was tough because even when his decisions were correct, Nare’s statement was still fresh in the minds of fans and players. It’s bad; and necessary action has to be taken immediately,” the source continued.
This season, referees have been on the receiving end of the abusive language from the coaches, especially when things were not going their way. This has seen the likes of Keitumetse Paul (Uniao Flamengo Santos), Rahman Gumbo (Mochudi Centre Chiefs) and Nare being amongst the gaffers who were suspended from the bench.
In a recent Coca-Cola Cup quarterfinal game between BDF XI and Mochudi Centre Chiefs in Molepolole, BDF XI assistant coach, Nelson Setshwane, used some abusive language towards referee Kutlwano Leso after his side went down 1-0 to Chiefs. He further criticized Leso for being biased in the games involving BDF XI.
No action was taken against Setshwane who had to be calmed down by his player, Patrick Motsepe.
Leso was once again swamped by Santos’ technical team after their side lost 1-0 to Notwane in a league game at the SSKB Stadium last Sunday.
The national referees’ chairman, Alucious Sesikwe, confirmed that he has received a complaint from Ramocha in regard to the utterances, which were made by Nare on Botswana Television (Btv).
He pointed out that they are meeting with the Premier League executive committee on Tuesday and Nare’s issue would be high on the agenda.
“At the moment, there is referee’s course, which is ongoing and which aims to improve the performance of our referees. We’re trying to talk to them (referees) to always focus on the game and do well to try and minimize such issues (criticisms),” said Sesikwe.
Efforts to get a comment from BFA chief executive officer, Judge Mookodi, failed as he did not return calls.
It is only in Botswana where the football authorities continue to be lenient on coaches and officials who abuse referees during league and cup games.
In neighbouring South Africa, the Premier League authorities are tough on the officials and at times they are banned from the touchline for some time and even made to apologise through the media if they had made comments which are seen as offensive towards referees.
In England, Manchester United coach, Sir Alex Ferguson, is currently serving a five-match ban from the Football Association (FA) after he said that their league match against Chelsea last month needed a fair referee. This was after his side lost 2-1 to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.