HARARE – Zimbabwe Referees Association chairman Ndumiso Gumede has jumped to the defence of referee Bekezela Makeka, who handled the hotly-disputed match between Highlanders and Triangle at Barbourfields Stadium, won 1-0 by the hosts.
Former Highlanders boss Gumede said Sunday's match is one of many examples were referees are made to bear the blame for players’ indiscipline.
The incident-filled match that has created heated debate due to its bearing on the destiny of the Castle Premiership title ended after 116 minutes with Highlanders scoring the solitary winning goal through Ozias Zibande deep into added time.
Triangle had two players, Limited Chikafa and Blessing Chipula, sent off by referee Makeka alongside coach Gishon Ntini. Makeka added 16 minutes of injury time, apparently to compensate for the time Triangle players spent protesting decisions.
Amidst the drama, a fuming Ntini at one time ordered his players off the field.
When play finally resumed, Triangle goalkeeper Chipula fell to the ground unchallenged, causing further delay. He received a second yellow card for time wasting.
“The situation is simple and this is all contained in Law 5, bullet eight on the powers and duties of referees,” Gumede told the Daily News yesterday.
“What we learn there is that if a goalkeeper is injured the referee must allow for his treatment for the time it takes, unless he sees that the matter is getting too and he advices the team that ‘why don’t you substitute.’
“Now here comes the catch.
For all that time that the goalkeeper is lying injured, that time is added on. That is why it is no longer called optional time, its added time for all the unnecessary and the uncontrollable stoppages.
“Now whether it takes 20 minutes, two minutes the referee must add that time. People pay for 90 minutes of actions not 70 minutes of playing fools.
“Let’s go back to yesterday (Wednesday’s) match, I’m told the game was stopped for more than 16 minute and that when 90 minutes came up, the fourth official showed everybody that they will be 16 minutes added time. By the way it’s the referee who tells the fourth official how many minutes he stopped play for. We have our signs.
“In that match they were a number of incidences, one was when Limited Chikafa, who when he saw he was going to be substituted, he moved from where he was then he went to the far corner until he got a second yellow resulting in red. This is all down to indiscipline. When Chikafa was coming off, the goalkeeper, who was not even touched, decided to fall down and unfortunately he got a yellow card.
“In fact, as coaches and trainers of referees, we have come to watch soccer not referees and if at the end of the match the referee is the talking point then we have a problem. But in this occasion, we now have crop of people spoiling for a fight and our only protection as referees is Law 5,” he said.
Gumede added that discontenting voices accusing the referee of bias in Wednesday’s match are “people who do not understand the rules of the game.”
“If you are arriving in South Africa, there are times when a little dog runs around all the bags that come out of the airport, and if they smell something that dog stops,” said the Gumede, who is also the Zifa vice-president.
“Now, if you bring your little dog from Mabvuku, do you think that dog will able to dictate what’s in that bag? The referees are trained, not initiated into understanding football rules. They are trained, let them do their job. I don’t mind if you are journalist or a simple supporter let them do their job.
“Remember the referee has one chance to make a decision. We are lucky to review, but referees have no second chances. Let us give them benefit of the doubt and not measure them against our seven and eight replays.”