Change non-performing referees, FIFA urged

VigahThe world football governing body, FIFA, has been urged to consider the proposal where non-performing referees would be changed in the course of a game “and not to wait until an irrevocable damage had been caused.”
The call was made by John Vigah, a sports journalist with the New Times Corporation (NTC), who said he had already sent a copy of his proposal to FIFA for consideration.
According to him, football has reached a stage where “FIFA should give no room for the referees to make horrendous mistakes and just walk away, leaving in their trail irreparable damage on the affected teams.”
“Mistakes as a referee will always happen. Truth is that they have a split second to make a decision and will never always get it right. Of course, no one is calling for perfection. No one is perfect!
“However, it is my strongest belief that football will be the winner if FIFA considers the substitution of non-performing referees in the course of the game and not to wait to fight any post-match controversy,” he asserted.
The multiple-award winning journalist told the Times Sports yesterday that aside the blunders these referees make and the ensuing anguish they unleash on players and supporters as well, “it is a common knowledge that some of them are linked to betting syndicates and so come to the games with the result already stashed in their pocket.”
Mr Vigah cited a couple of incidents to buttress his assertion.
He said during a football match-fixing scandal in Europe in November 2013, investigation proved that the price for a referee to let him manipulate a football game is £20,000.
“Earlier the same year, The Telegraph (UK), reported that Ali Sabbagh, a referee from Lebanon, was sentenced with a six months’ imprisonment for match fixing. He accepted free sex from a gambling-linked global syndicate in exchange for manipulating a match in the Asian Football Confederation Cup – and got arrested before the match started.
“Barely three months ago, our own Joseph Lamptey was banned for life by FIFA for allegedly collaborating with betting syndicates to force the outcome of a 2018 World Cup qualifier.  FIFA’s investigation of the betting odds suggested Lamptey had been paid to ensure a 2-1 score line which had been the preferred score that betting syndicates had placed money on.
“It goes without saying that the performance of South African referee Daniel Bennett and his Seychellois assistants in the Ghana-Uganda World Cup qualifier in Kampala on Saturday, October 7, leaves much to be desired, to say the least. The referee denied the Black Stars a limpidly evident penalty appeal when Frank Acheampong crushed down in the box before ruling out a 93rd minute perfect goal with television replays showing that it should have stood,” he lamented.
According to the Mr Vigah, all these may have been avoided if referees and perhaps their assistants were replaced after they consistently make some bad calls in the course of the game.
In his proposal, the five-time Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) Awards winner suggested that FIFA should form an experienced panel of retired referees who will assess the performance of the centre referees and their assistants throughout the game.
“The panel will be given the power to replace the referees if they fail to deliver – and not to wait until the game is over. Aside being substituted, severe sanctions could have to be applied if necessary,” he suggested.

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