Red faces all round
Flabbergasted? - Possibly. Disappointed? – Definitely. Surprised? – Without a doubt.
What am I talking about? The incident recently that saw a Premier Soccer League game in South Africa held up for 20 minutes because both teams had the same colour socks. The obvious question is – how could this happen?
Now to my knowledge there is a pre-match meeting before every Premier and NFD game involving all relevant parties.
These include the police, ground security, emergency medical people, and representatives from both teams and the match commissioner.
I’ve been at these meetings and they are very professionally run.
The meeting takes place three hours before kick-off and every detail relative to the game is raised and double checked. This includes the team colours including socks.
The procedure is that if there is a clash of colours then the away team must change.
So how did this problem arise?
I don’t have the answer. I wasn’t there. Suffice to say there was a breakdown in communication somewhere which resulted in a “live” game on television being delayed for approximately 20 minutes.
I have to say it – this is amateur schoolboy stuff. Sorry, maybe I’m being too harsh on amateur schoolboy football. I coached at the Wanderers for a while and it certainly wouldn’t happen there.
Now this is not just a question of two teams wearing the same colour socks. Oh no! The implication is, with all the recent changes by Fifa, that referees could be fooled when two players go into a tackle with the same or similar colour socks and they (the referees) wouldn’t be able to decide who the guilty party was in the event of an infringement.
My answer to that is – why is the referee so close to the action in the first place to make such a mistake? What does a match official do when two amateur teams are playing who can’t afford to have different colour socks?
I can understand that if a game is on television, it can be quite deceptive when teams are wearing similar colours. I don’t think this incident required the game to be held up for so long.
The bigger picture is that a game which started 20 minutes late cost an awful lot of money in advertising, air time and sponsorship. Then there was the fact that the match was going to finish 20 minutes later than scheduled. That means that the rest of the evening’s programmes are now also 20 minutes later than advertised.
This behaviour damages the PSL image, causes untold problems for many people, and it makes the people in charge look like complete fools
My suggestion would be to continue with the pre-match meeting which, as I’ve said, is very professionally run, but allow the referee to make a final check 15 minutes before the players are due on the field. This would give enough time for any last minute hitches to be corrected and still allow the game to kick off on time.
Not so long ago the referee and his two assistants went into the players change room to check the boots and colours just before the players were due on the field. This doesn’t happen any more. Why? I don’t know. If it was still happening this problem would not have arisen and a lot of people would have been spared embarrassing red faces.
Let’s get back to basics lads – please. Do the simple stuff right first time.
Please keep your comments coming whether you agree or not with me.
Contact me below on all matters refereeing.
Dr. Errol Sweeney