When referee Julius Uyapo gave striker Onalethata Tshekiso of Rollers his marching orders, for taking off his jersey in celebration and for reportedly making a provocative gesture, it sparked fresh demands for a review.
The incident, which occurred last weekend in Molepolole when Rollers beat BMC 1-0, stirred controversy as many people who watched the game claimed it should have been a caution instead and that the red card was a mistake.
The referee’s match report reiterates the decision was correct. According to the match report, in addition to taking off his jersey, Tshekiso raised a middle finger to the opposition fans and, for that, he was shown a straight red card.
The fourth official and assistant referee are also said to have seen the player making the gesture and backed Uyapo’s decision.
Reports say that immediately after the game, Uyapo admitted to having made a mistake. This has brought about complaints that, owing to the absence of a review structure from the referee’s committee, referees might do things as they wish knowing that their decisions are binding.
The Secretary of the Referee’s Committee, Marvelous Shaengarae, said people may have concentrated too much on the taking off of the jersey and obviously did not see the other offence. He explained that it’s customary that, in the event a player commits two or more fouls simultaneously, he can be sent out.
Shaengarae said Law 12 of play Rules and Regulations further says that if in the opinion of the referee, a player utters offensive language or makes a provocative gesture he is given a red card.
Shaengarae said that they are, therefore, inclined to believe what the referee’s match report says as they have confidence in the caliber of their referees.
He, however, said that if they find a clear fault or incompetence with the referee, they usually allocate them lighter games.
He added that the other thing they do is to rehabilitate the referees.
“In the event that a referee concedes to having made a mistake and stated in the match report, nothing can be done to correct the decision, unless if maybe with the disciplinary or the executive committees such a decision may be reached. However, so far, there has not been any decision reversed even in previous incidents where it was clear a referee had made a mistake. There is currently no committee that is responsible for a review and reversal of faulty referee decisions and if there was to be any, it has to be done directly by the Botswana Football Association (BFA).”
Tebogo Sebego, the BFA legal Advisor, said he sees no problem with a review of referee’s decision, especially when there is the benefit of video clips as is the case with the Tshekiso incident. He revealed that video clips have in the past been used for televised games to make reviews, citing a match between Boteti and Gunners in which video clips were used as aids and subsequent to that some players were slapped with bans for inciting supporters.
“In my own personal opinion, even if it is often said that a referee’s decision is final, we must understand that they are also human and are not exempt from making mistakes. The decision can be changed, especially when the decision is one that will not change the result of the game,” he opined.