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Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa has challenged local referees to exercise professionalism and to take advantage of football’s global power and appeal to grow their profiles beyond the domestic scene. Chiyangwa, in officially opening a FIFA Member Associations referees’ course at Prince Edward School yesterday, told the participants the game afforded opportunities.
The ZIFA and COSAFA president, is also the chairman of the association’s referees committee, with veteran administrator Gladmore Muzambi being his deputy.
FIFA referees’ instructors Felix Tangawarima, Mark Mzengo of Malawi, who handles the fitness aspects and Somalia’s Ali Ahmed are conducting the course which started yesterday and will end on Friday.
Chiyangwa also assured the referees of ZIFA’s and his personal support for their welfare, but warned them against corruption and match-fixing.
“Football is a gateway to a lot of things, you have seen it with many African players who have gone on to play and earn big money in Europe.
“You, too, can grow your profile and find your way into such institutions like FIFA, CAF and COSAFA. I want to say that Felix and myself are the faces of Zimbabwean football to the world, but we should empower more people to get into these different bodies.
“I am happy with the numbers, (of participants) but I would want to see the training cascade down to the lower leagues so that we can increase the production,” Chiyangwa said.
He said although Muzambi was literally in charge of the referees, he had retained an oversight role on the developments in that key sector of the game, and wanted to see more female officials being developed.
“If you do a service, you should be paid. If anyone doesn’t pay the referees, I will go after the person. You should also shun dubious money games and any corruption,” Chiyangwa said.
Tangawarima, who flew into the country on Sunday after completing another course in Botswana, told the officials that FIFA and CAF placed a lot of significance on integrity.
“I think you heard a few months ago that your referees actually exposed some of the corruption which was there and for FIFA and CAF this is a very, very important development, not only to the referees themselves, but to the country as a whole,” Tangawarima said.
Harare referee Norman Matemera snubbed overtures from Equatorial Guinea club Desportivo Niefang to fix the CAF Confederation game after being lured with a $10 000 bribe.
Tangawarima also said the FIFA instructors had from this year, taken a different approach to the teachings they are imparting to the referees across the continent.
“The local instructors will go to the other parts of the country to do what we would have done here. The approach we are taking now is different from what we have been doing in the previous courses,” said Tangawarima.
“This time around, we are more in the field of play because we have discovered that the mistakes do not happen in class.
“In class, the students can memorise the theory and answer all the questions correctly, but that doesn’t remove the error of judgment in the field of play.”