The National, Tuesday December 22nd, 2015
IN major sporting competitions where a high standard is expected on and off the field from all involved there usually is a process where grievances are heard and addressed.
Over the weekend, the National Soccer League came under fire from a franchise owner who claimed that there were not enough “soccer” people in the competition’s administration.
The implication was that the country’s top tier soccer competition is not being managed properly or at least to the liking of some in the soccer fraternity.
Rapatona owner Kisakiu Posman vented his frustrations on the management of the NSL after his side draw 0-0 in a match that saw referee David Yare’s handling put under the spotlight.
Lawyer Posman claimed the competition’s management needed to address the problem of bias by referees because of their associations with certain clubs in the city.
He questioned the efficacy of the official when the same referee had been assigned to control five consecutive matches involving his side over the course of the round of the Southern Conference.
Posman and no doubt his coaching staff were left fuming after several inconsistencies they observed in Yare’s performance.
Last week another club coach criticized the refereeing saying the referee had missed several clear violations that warranted direct penalties.
It seems the NSL does not have a clear policy or guide lines on what coaches and franchise owners and players should say to the media when commenting on games.
In the Digicel Cup, the countries equivalent rugby league competition, coaches and franchise owners are required not to criticize the performances of referees and match officials without first putting in writing their concerns and providing the necessary evidence to back their claims and forwarding it to the PNG NRL board.
Furthermore the penalties for degrading the competition through undue and unsubstantiated comments and criticism can be fines in the thousands of kina and even the docking of points.
This makes Digicel Cup clubs wary of overstepping the boundary when commenting on matches.
Rugby league in this instance has a clear set of rules outlining how far coaches/franchise owners can go when venting or pointing out consistencies in the running of games.
It seems soccer does not have the same arrangement or if it does that message has not been communicated to the clubs.
The problem of refereeing standards has always been an issue across the board in all sports. The fact is top quality referees are developed through the efforts of all stakeholders but most especially the competition and sports administration.
The PNGFA and the NSL must seriously look into developing and maintaining a group of certified and regularly-assessed referees and match officials.
If the fans, coaches, franchise owners and players want to be refereed by the best available then someone somewhere needs to allocate the necessary funding to achieve that goal.
The referees association must be a well-funded and professionally managed group. It does not make sense to have a top class venue, well-trained athletes and paying fans but have referees that are essentially casual in their approach.
Just like the standard expected from our law enforcement officers and those in the defence force the public will soon lose faith in their ability to carry out their duties competently if they continuously show an inability to improve and maintain standards.
What the NSL should ask itself is if there is a problem with the standard of refereeing. This is probably where Posman was coming from when he called for the need to have people who were intimately familiar with the sport instead of managers and administrators who may have a passing affiliation with the sport but are brought on to “manage”.
If sport at the top level is to thrive in PNG then one must not forget the role of the referee as the manager, controller and adjudicator in a sporting contest.
That role is crucial but not always appreciated for what it is. Perhaps Posman and other freanchise owners and coaches can contribute to solving the problem by helping organise a referee’s referesher course?
Raising the concern is the first step in fixing the problem but finding a way to address the situation should be the next logical step.
We are sure the referees want the same as well.