Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
FOR the first time in many years, referees have not increased their appearance fees ahead of the start of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer league season this afternoon.
According to the Zimbabwe Referees’ Committee vice chairperson, Gladmore Muzambi, the match referee will be paid $180, the same figure that a match commissioner will receive while the first, second and fourth referees will each be paid $160.
“We are not increasing the referees’ fees, they remain the same like last season. The decision was taken in view of the plight of our clubs who are reeling in serious financial doldrums,” said Muzambi.
With the home team responsible for the referees’ fees, each of the 18 clubs in the Premier Soccer League will need to budget $14 280 for their 17 matches, translating to $840 per match.
Unlike in other countries, especially in England where referees are paid from a specific fund instead of clubs paying them as the tendency can breed corruption, Zimbabwe still sticks to that system with observers saying future sponsorship of the league must also carter for referees’ fees.
Zimbabwe has 72 referees, a number which according to the respected and retired Muzambi, is ideal for an 18-team league.
“A referee must be in charge of a match and be given a week off before being assigned again, so 72 is a proper number for our league,” he said.
Expectations are high that the match officials will not hog the limelight for the wrong reasons as has been the case in years gone by, with complaints from clubs almost every weekend of football.