“… First of all, the failure to spot a challenge that resulted in Sergio Aguero having to go off, then a non-penalty decision.

“I was with a group of Fifa referees from Nigeria who watched with amazement. Do you think I took joy in that?”—Keith Hackett (former head of English Premier League referees) after describing officiating in the EPL during the Christmas holidays as ”bordering on appalling.”

While the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) of the EPL did reject Hackett’s claims, stating standards have risen since 2010, his comments could be relevant to our referees’ front, considering the undercurrent of suspicion in their ranks.

Of course our referees were inactive during the yuletide so could not have been described as appalling, but one cannot be enthused about the internal wrangling within their midst

With the 2014/15 First Capital Plus league about to be resumed on January 18, the assumption is that everything should be in place by then.

It is good to know that the (RAG) has taken measures to sanitize its membership.

It suspended 12 referees for providing fake BECE certificates and were therefore guilty of impersonation.

RAG was also reported to have disciplined a General Secretary of the association for misconduct some time ago.

All these are good, but not when there is an undercurrent of suspicion between some of its members and the hierarchy.

Should this be unresolved, it could undermine the referees’ image, especially when allegations of tribalism and nepotism are being bandied about.

This is in specific reference to referee Samuel Gyasi who had threatened to quit refereeing last season should he be demoted from premier to Division One.

“If they want me to stop refereeing they should tell me point blank that master, retire than asking me to go to division one from FIFA”.

Of course RAG did deny the allegations and insisted that appointments are done on merit but this would not obscure the fact that both the Referees Appointment Committee (RAC) and the RAG would now be looked at with jaundiced eyes.

Already, the image of the top hierarchy of the referees had been dented by comments of certain sports personalities at public for a.

But more recently, in 2012 a disqualified female referee had accused the hierarchy of failing her because she refused to have sex with them.

While that allegation was also denied, it adds to the undercurrent of uneasiness in the rank and file of the refereeing community.

The point is, such suspicions could fester, if not addressed.

The new league season, already delayed, cannot afford to be saddled with new allegations of bias within the association given the nature of how clubs turn to feel aggrieved whenever they consider themselves cheated..

The least the GFA can do is to encourage the hierarchy of the refereeing bodies to be more transparent in their dealings with their membership to reduce suspicion.

Between the RAG and the RAC , they should have been a position to come out with hard facts on performances over the years like their counterparts in the EPL recently did when confronted with allegations.

“Information supplied to the BBC by PGMOL states that the accuracy of decision-making by referees in the Premier League is currently at an all-time high.

“The figures claim accuracy on major decisions was up to 95% from 94.1%, accuracy on decisions in the penalty box stood at 98%, and offsides were now 99% accurate, compared to 92% when Riley took over”, the body had fired back over accustions that standards have fallen.

Can our refereeing bodies reel out such statistics on the performance of their membership to convince stakeholders that all is well in their ranks?

Already, the admission of RAG’s Vice-chairman, Mr. Joe Debrah last year that some referees do take bribes has been an indictment on the knights of the whistle.

Should grievances of our referees therefore not be settled timely and in a transparent manner enough to gain the confidence of members, it would further worsen their esteem held for them by stakeholders.

TO THE POINT
with Christian Abbew

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