Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWEAN referees have received a pat on the back from FIFA after the world’s football motherbody increased the slots accorded to the country on their panel of match officials.
The number of local referees on the FIFA Panel had stagnated at three over the last few years.
But after some intensive training and other capacity building programmes undertaken by the ZIFA Referees Committee, especially between 2017-18, and with the FIFA and CAF assistance, there will be an increase for Zimbabwe to four centre officials in 2019.
Brighton Chimene is the new entrant to the panel which already had Norman Matemera, Nomore Musundire and Pilan Ncube.
An array of good officiating by the country’s referees prompted FIFA to increase their slots in a development which has been widely celebrated in the country.
ZIFA Referees Committee vice-chairman Gladmore Muzambi said the development was a sign of the good work they have done over the years.
“I am overjoyed. Our application to FIFA for an increase in numbers of slots for referees was granted,” said Muzambi.
“We now have four slots, up from three, a sign that we are heading in the right direction in terms of what we are doing as a committee. Our referees continue to learn and they have done tremendously well.
“It’s a good sign in terms of how we are developing as a nation.
“So, for 2019 we will be having four centre referees.”
Zimbabwean officials have performed well in continental tournaments and the development comes as a reward to the outstanding performance they have had.
Muzambi said for the country to be accorded the slots his organisation had to prove beyond any reasonable doubt why they deserved to be rewarded.
Some factors which FIFA takes into consideration before allotting the slots include the level of football in a particular country as well as the quality of their officiating.
“To be granted what we are celebrating, we had to justify extensively why we needed an extra slot according to FIFA requirements.
“We are very happy we were given the extra slot. Some of the factors which FIFA looks into when allotting the slots include the level of football in the country as well as the quality of refereeing in the country, among other things.“The development speaks volumes about our dedicated efforts to improve the quality of our refereeing which ensures the development of football in the country.
“I am challenging the referees to continue to raise the country’s flag high in the field of officiating.
“We applied for the increase in the number of our slots and got the necessary support from CAF resulting in FIFA giving us. However, the women referees were not increased and I am urging them to continue working hard,” Muzambi said.
The only local female referees on the FIFA panel are Mercy Mayimbo and Thanks Nyahuye.