Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
PREMIER Soccer League chairman Farai Jere says referee Thabani Bamala, who is in the eye of a storm in the wake of his handling of the showdown between Highlanders and CAPS United at Barbourfields on Sunday, should not be crucified for the controversial way in which he ruled out a late goal by the Green Machine.
Instead, said Jere, Bamala should be praised for the way he managed a game that was full of tension.
The Battle of the Cities encounter ended in a goalless stalemate, but CAPS United were left to feel hard done by Bamala after he ruled Dominic Chungwa’s late goal had been struck from an offside position.
Jere, who is also the CAPS United president, said he would advise his club against lodging any formal complaint, against Bamala for Sunday’s incidents insisting that, apart from the moments that have triggered debate, he believed the referee had handled the game well.
“In football we should allow room for errors. In Europe they are now using VAR to try and correct some of the errors that referees make, but these things are not uncommon,’’ said Jere.
‘‘As spectators, we often have the benefit of watching a replay of some of the incidents yet the referee has to make a decision in a split second.
“As someone who was at the stadium, I think there are lot of decisions which the referee made which were very critical and I think he did very well to manage the tensions in the match.
“I think he is one referee who tried his best to manage the game well, to manage the tension that was evident before and during the game.
“CAPS United will come up with their own position as a club, but from my personal point of view I think let’s allow room for mistakes.
“I am not saying that referees must be allowed to go and make deliberate mistakes, but I believe if there were mistakes, what we saw at Barbourfields were genuine errors.
“Let’s learn to give our referees the benefit of the doubt. Zimbabwean football is not the only game that has controversial moments and that is why we had such incidents like the Maradona Hand of God that we still talk about to this day and somehow it also makes football interesting.
“So, in my view, it is will be too early for CAPS United to complain about the conduct of referees and I think the Peter Muduhwa and Gabriel Nyoni incidents are some examples of how Bamala allowed the game to flow and managed tension.’’
Jere said Bamala’s display on Sunday was a notable improvement in the standards of officiating in the country in the last three years.
“For the past two to three years our referees have improved and there were very few complaints against them last year. There is a commitment from the leadership of the referees to continue to build their capacities through more training workshops and courses’’.
Jere also defended fellow ZIFA board member, Brighton Malandule, who was the match commissioner during the Battle of the Cities clash.
Malandule, who is the board member in charge of development, also chairs the ZIFA Referees Committee.
“Malandule is not the person who made the mistake as the match commissioner . . . the mistake or mistakes were made by the four officials on the pitch,’’ said Jere.
“I also don’t think it is it right to ask why he was match commissioner when he is chairman of the committee.
‘‘I think this has always happened and we had cases where Kenny Marange, Ndumiso Gumede and Omega Sibanda were ZIFA vice-presidents and they still went on to take up assignments.
“And Malandule should be allowed to assess his referees in high profile games . . . they do that at CAF and it happens elsewhere.
‘‘Of course, one day we would want to also have VAR (Video Assistant Referee) but it is expensive to invest in and England, with all their money, they are still to have VAR for their league games’’.
While Jere defended Bamala and opted for diplomacy, CAPS United, citing the chequered history the referee has with the Premiership giants, insisted they would lodge their formal complaint today.
CAPS United administrator Morton Dodzo said they would lodge their complaint after putting together everything they believe would make their case stronger.