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Well done PSL - thuggery must stop

The hefty bans imposed on a soccer player and the chairman of an NFD club by the Disciplinary Committee of the Premier Soccer League in South Africa recently is to be lauded and commended.

Mabhudi Khenyeza, who plays for Premier League side Ajax Cape Town, got a 12-month ban for spitting at a referee. Dumisani Mcedani, the chairman of Blackburn Rovers who play in the National First Division, got a four-year ban for assaulting a referee.

Khenyeza was found guilty of swearing and spitting at a referee during their fixture against Mamelodi Sundowns at Loftus Stadium on 3 April 2013.

Khenyeza was also ordered to pay all costs for two sittings and the costs of the league’s witnesses.

The incident involving Mcedani happened at the Umtata stadium on 27 April 2013, a ground I know very well as I was also assaulted there in 1988 during a BP Top 8 game between Umtata Bucks and Fairway Stars.

Mr Mcedani was also ordered to pay all the costs of the hearing including the attendances of the league’s witnesses.

This kind of punishment is long overdue as the increase in protests of one form or another against the decisions of the match officials appears to be on the increase.

Players have to realise that they cannot take the law into their own hands just because they perceive a decision has gone against them or their team.

The behaviour of players on the field of play, or their officials off the field of play, can and has caused match officials to be assaulted and even killed.

It’s not that long ago we had two fatalities in soccer after assaults on referees.

Jan Niewenhuizen, an assistant referee, was attacked by three teenage thugs in Holland after a game and died later in hospital.

Ricardo Portillo, a referee from Utah in the USA, also died after being assaulted by a player as he was walking off the field.

These thugs, masquerading as soccer players and club chairmen, seem to believe that it is their right to vent their anger on the unfortunate match officials when they believe that they have been “wronged” by a refereeing decision.

Now I know some of you will be jumping up and down and saying, “What about when referees and their assistants get it wrong – what then?”

Yes, I agree. Referees and their assistants DO get it wrong and guess what, will continue to get it wrong. They are human after all and humans do make mistakes.

That is no excuse for this kind of lawlessness and street justice.

That is no excuse for players to decide that they are right and everyone else is wrong. That is no excuse for people in REAL authority, like a chairman of a club, to unilaterally dispense his own form of justice on an unsuspecting referee.

Match officials are entitled to maximum protection when they go to a ground and be confident in the knowledge that they are protected from hooligans purporting to be players and team officials.

Well done PSL DC. You have set an example for others around the world to follow. Too many times sentences have been watered down with suspended sentences.

This sends out a clear and unambiguous message to all that thuggery of this sort will not be tolerated.

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