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Referees back in action

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Castle Lager Premiership matches will go ahead this afternoon after Zimbabwe Soccer Referees’ Association reached an agreement with the league yesterday following a boycott threat.

Zifa were headed for a showdown with football referees, demanding full investigation into alleged corrupt match officials and pursuance of due processes, ahead of the Castle Lager Premiership programme scheduled for this afternoon.

ZSRA chairman Ngoni Boyd said late yesterday: “In the interest of the game, we have decided that we will handle all matches.

We have taken it upon ourselves to say referees who handled the four matches under complaint should excuse themselves until they are cleared by Zifa.”

The four matches which raised hue and cry are the two matches between Gunners and FC Platinum (league and cup), the Motor Action and Zimbabwe Saints game which ended 0-0 at White City Stadium and the Motor Action-Caps United one which the Green Machine won 2-0.

This led to Zifa’s decision to have the Mbada Diamonds Cup semi- finals handled by foreign referees.

In an earlier statement, Boyd said: “We are naturally disappointed with this development particularly the reason(s) forwarded as to why Zifa came up with this decision. We are not against the idea of foreign referees as long as it is done in good faith.

“Unfortunately in our case foreign referees were brought in against the background of allegations of incompetence, bias and corruption.

“These are serious allegations which need investigation on the part of Zifa so that bad apples are separated from the good ones. If Zifa had done their homework, there was no need to paint all the referees with the same brush.

“As an association, we do not tolerate incompetence, bias and corruption. Where our members have been found wanting, action will be taken without fear or favour.

In the case at hand, we encourage Zifa to investigate allegations so culprits are brought to book. On tomorrow’s games (today), we are still discussing with the stakeholders on the way forward.

It is necessary to look at the bigger (picture) before we act, but at the same time when we analyse the various statements from last week, we then ask ourselves what has changed because only five days ago referees were corrupt and now they are clean!

“Industrial action is not the best solution to any problem because it leaves destruction and wounded hearts behind, but there comes a time it is unavoidable.”

He said he had met with Premier Soccer League chief executive officer Kennedy Ndebele on Monday on the matter.

“We do not condone corruption. We have good relations with the referees’ association. We met yesterday (Monday) and we discussed their issues and concerns. We are concerned that they are being painted with one brush,” Ndebele said.

“We are concerned over appointments which are done in a cloud of secrecy. I think that is where there is a problem. As a league, we don’t even know now, the referees’ fixtures for tomorrow (today).

“We propose the appointments be transparent and agree with the referees’ association that those in the appointments committee should be qualified to do so,” Ndebele said.

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