Premiership desperately needs VAR as refs’ kindergarten blunders persist

While the video assistant referee (VAR) has not entirely solved the refereeing nightmares in some of the top leagues in the world, the DStv Premiership is in critical need of the system. For the umpteenth time, the referees have not had a good start to the new season and are really having a nightmare – it has become the norm.

This is frustrating the football mother body Safa, leaving head of referees Abdul Ebrahim tearing the little of hair left on his cranium. Two league matches, Mamelodi Sundowns v Kaizer Chiefs and Sekhukhune United v Moroka Swallows, drew the most criticism, with the referees completely out of their depth and making erroneous calls.

The 2-1 loss Sekhukhune suffered was more glaring and blatant. It left the Ba Bina Noko officials wanting to grab the refereeing team and to have a “word with them”.

Luckily, the match officials were escorted out of the stadium by security personnel and police officers.

One could not help but feel for Sekhukhune coach Brendon Truter, who lost a crucial point as the match was headed to a 1-1 draw.

Deservedly so, credit must go to Safa for acting swiftly and yanking the officials from the register and taking them back to school. Back in the day, it would take weeks, if not months, for Safa to act.

The under siege Ebrahim was a guest on Thabiso Mosia’s Radio 2000 sports show and explained the action taken against the referee, Siyabonga Nkomo, and his linesman Thamanga Sebati in the Sekhukhune United v Moroka Swallows game two weeks ago. “I can confirm that there were errors in the Sundowns v Chiefs game and they were picked up by our review committee. Action has been taken against those match officials and they’re being rehabilitated. But unlike the 16 weeks given to the Swallows v Sekhukhune referees, the length of rehabilitation for the Sundowns v Chiefs match officials is not that long,” Ebrahim said.

As much as VAR is still a hit-and-miss in well-established leagues, it would be very handy in our league, where referees seem to be still at kindergarten stage. Coaches and players work very hard preparing for matches and to lose matches in the manner that Sekhukhune did is energy-sapping.

There’s a lot at stake, coaches can be fired and things can turn violent at stadiums, as witnessed after the Sekhukhune match.

It’s either Safa and PSL get VAR as soon as possible or they take more of their referees to training courses before things get out of hand.

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