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Football | Absa Premiership

Stuart Baxter © Gallo Images

Baxter calls for referee development



Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter has called for an improvement in the standards of officiating in South African football, in the aftermath of the Soweto derby.

Amakhosi drew 1-1 in their Premiership match against Orlando Pirates at FNB Stadium on Saturday, to stay three points clear at the top of the log, but there were a number of contentious decisions and inconsistencies in the refereeing, according to Baxter.

"That one went backwards and forwards too much for my liking," he said.

"At the finish, we didn't know if we were going to get a corner or a goal kick, or a yellow card or a throw-in. When we're awarding players points out of 10 we should talk about the referees too."

Baxter drew parallels with the development of players and officials, insisting more needed to be done to improve the state of refereeing in the top-flight domestic league.

"The authorities – whether it's Safa (SA Football Association), the PSL (Premier Soccer League), the clubs, or whoever – need to invest more in the development of the kids (players), with a good development programme to give them a path to reach the national team."

He believed the same process should be followed in the development of officials.

"We need to have a discussion on how the officials can improve. I'm sure the referees want to improve," he said.

"They don't want to hear coaches moaning and groaning all the time."

Baxter said the referees should be held accountable for their performances, in the same way players were responsible for theirs.

"If a player plays poorly, we tell it, and you guys report it," he told the media.

"I think officiating is a massively difficult thing. I know and understand that in a game like this they're also under pressure, but I still think if we're going to talk about the development of the South African game, that's an area that needs to develop."

With various interpretations and applications of the law, Baxter felt it had left a grey area for players and coaches.

“A player needs to know – is that a good tackle or should that be a red card? If we don't know, how do we coach it?

"I hope my players don't get penalised because I'm saying the way I feel it. I'm deadly honest. I'll tell the referee if they had a great game or a good game."

Baxter stressed consistency was the key to keeping all parties happy.

A former mentor of the South African and Finnish national teams, he said the PSL needed to meet officiating standards applied in league competitions across the world.

"If you ask managers in the (English) Premier League or (Spanish) La Liga, they'll say exactly the same thing. They just want consistency.

"There are inconsistencies and when those yellow cards start up and, at the end of the year, you have players suspended, you've forgotten what he got the yellow card for.

"That's why I'm sure it's worth raising the issue."

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