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Moments of madness

Just when you think football is recovering from the bad publicity it has been experiencing in recent times, from bribery to match fixing, the sport seems to be faced with a not-so-new-problem.

Just a few months ago we the sport was embroiled in racism claims in some of the major leagues. Racism in football has always been a problem and many campaigns were organised all around the world to teach people about this scourge.

The campaigns did little to deter racists. Some high profile cases were reported and one case involving Chelsea captain and Anton Ferdinand even went to court. By now you are well aware of the outcome of that case.

Just as we were hoping for a non-racist sport, football was hit by another problem, hooliganism. We have witnessed some shameful scenes in our stadiums all over the world. Lives were threatened and games abandoned because a few minorities felt it necessary to spoil the fun for everyone.

Some leagues took decisive actions to deal with the hooligans. In the Absa Premiership, the Mamelodi Sundowns coach was attacked by supporters. It was one of the saddest moments in football, seeing a coach ducking from missiles. The incident left a bitter taste in my mouth. To their credit the Premier Soccer League, the club and the police moved swiftly to deal with the perpetrators. Charges were laid against the culprits and they await a court appearance.

It was disturbing to learn from Sundowns that the arrested supporters pleaded with the team to withdraw charges. Really? They are showing no remorse for their actions.

A young man was arrested for attacking a goalkeeper in England on live television and was sentenced to community service. I do believe the English FA could have meted out a harsher sentence.

It would seem the controversy has taken a different turn. When one was thinking the situation could not get any worse, it did. Those who have been following football matches all over the world will tell you that things seem to be getting out of control.

Just the other week, it was raining red cards in most leagues around the world. Justified or not, it just seems so odd that players have become a danger to each other. Yes I admit that there are some overzealous players out there. They just do not know how to play it safe.

With all the beautiful football on display, the men in the middle have once again taken centre stage. It has been a frustrating weekend for many teams and their supporters. Several games were decided by the match officials.

This past weekend put the officials in the spotlight. Their mistakes are well documented the world over. QPR left the Emirates on Saturday frustrated after conceding a Michael Arteta goal that appeared to be offside. Up until that point Rangers were holding their own. The result put more unnecessary pressure on coach Mark Hughes.

The controversy continued on Sunday with Liverpool being denied a goal that could have won them a game in the Merseyside derby. A win would have propelled them to the top ten. The biggest decisions were at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea were left with no choice but to lodge a complaint with the FA after a few decisions went against them. Most notably, the officials committed two major errors -- the sending off of Fernando Torres and Manchester United's winning goal, scored by Hernandez.

Both Hernandez and his coach, Sir Alex Ferguson, admitted that Chicharito was offside when he scored the goal. The loss might just come back to haunt Chelsea later in the season, who until that Torres moment, did not look like they were going to lose the match.

In Italy, Serie A leaders Juventus enjoyed a huge let off on their way to a 1-0 victory at Catania after the Sicilians appeared to have a legitimate goal disallowed.

Midfielder Arturo Vidal scored the winner in the second half but, to add to the controversy, Juventus striker Nicklas Bendtner appeared to be fractionally offside when he had a shot saved in the move leading to the goal.

There was more controversy at Fiorentina where Lazio had a goal harshly disallowed and two players sent off on their way to a 2-0 defeat.

People who have been calling for goalline technology seem to be oblivious to that fact that mistakes are happening in the middle of the park that have far reaching effects on the game.

Appealing the referees decision for a red card to be rescinded seem like a good idea, but if a team lose a game because they were a man short, it seems to me to be useless.

What then needs to be done to eradicate this ‘sickness,’ I ask? One wonders if the match officials are aware that so much is dependent on their decisions. It is bad enough to have a match decided by one mistake; however it is another if mistakes decide the outcomes.

The same way campaigns have been organised to fight racism and hooliganism, it is time concerted efforts are made to help the match officials.

Football can do without such crazy moments by officials. I believe one cannot celebrate their team’s victory if it came under suspicious circumstances. No match should be ever be decided like that.

I think the time has come that maybe we should review this thing that the referee’s decision is final. They need to be held accountable for their mistake. Maybe goals should start being reviewed and reversed if needs be.

It is time to clean the game of these ills.

Follow me on Twitter @azwihang

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