THE Castle Lager Premiership football matches involving the country’s biggest clubs — Dynamos, Highlanders and Caps United — played in Bulawayo over the weekend were characterised by chaotic scenes which might leave the country’s big three facing fines from the league’s bosses.
How Mine beat Dynamos 1-0 before a big crowd yet to attend Luveve Stadium in a long time and some DeMbare supporters were found wanting in the dying minutes of the game as they threw missiles at the hosts’ bench, forcing the technical team and the substitutes to stray into the pitch.
Referee Hardly Ndazi had to stop the match before calm was restored. The Dynamos fans were probably riled by How Mine goalkeeper Notice Nonjabulo Dube, who employed time-wasting antics that earned him a yellow card in added time. Missiles also rained on Dube.
At Barbourfields, Highlanders and Caps United players were involved in a scuffle, which came a few minutes after referee Philani Ncube made a U-turn on a penalty he had awarded the visitors in the 21st minute following consultations with the fourth official Bekezela Makeka and second assistant referee Brighton Nyika.
The match had to be stopped for four minutes as police, club officials and match commissioner Sabelo Sibindi intervened to cool down tempers before the match resumed.
Unhappy Caps United fans in the Mpilo end, threw missiles onto the pitch and referee Ncube had to attend to that scene as well.
Premier Soccer League executive officer Kennedy Ndebele yesterday said he would only issue an official statement after receiving reports from the match officials.
“Nothing was really amiss during the Highlanders and Caps United match (yesterday). If there were any scenes of violence, the best people to comment will be the police. I will not be commenting on the two matches until I have seen the match commissioners’ reports,” Ndebele said.
Early in the season, Maglas Stadium was the scene of two consecutive weeks of mayhem after Shabanie Mine’s losses, leading to sanctions.
But what ignited Sunday’s BF uproar could have been pure ignorance of the laws of the game by both the players and some sections of the fans.
According to Fifa’s Law Five, which deals with the decisions of the referee: “The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play, including whether or not a goal is scored and the result of the match, are final. The referee may only change a decision on realising that it is incorrect or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee or the fourth official, provided that he has not restarted play or terminated the match.”
Ncube awarded a penalty to Caps United after Rahman Kutsanzira was brought down inside the box by Simon Munawa in the 21st minute, but Nyika had already had his flag up for offside. However, the centre man had not noticed his colleague. Munawa had been yellow-carded for the offence.
Probably it is the football fans that need education as the Caps United and Highlanders fans were involved in running battles with the police after the match. Now that the penalty decision was reversed after consultations with the fourth official, some bit of education is needed on some of the duties of this official.
In usual practice, the fourth official assists the referee in the following ways:
Assisting with administrative functions before, during and after the match;
Assessment of players’ equipment;
Ensuring substitutions are conducted in an orderly manner;
Notifying the referee of the details of the substitution, by means of numbered boards or electronic displays (where supplied);
Notifying the teams and spectators, by means of numbered boards or electronic displays where supplied, of the amount of time added on at the end of each half, after having been advised of this by the referee;
Acting as the contact point between the match officiating crew and any non-participants (such as stadium managers, security personnel, broadcast crews, and ball retrievers);
Maintaining decorum in the teams’ technical areas and interceding in situations where coaches, bench personnel, or substitutes become agitated;
In practice, the fourth official becomes a key member of the officiating team, who can watch the field and players and advise the referee on situations that are going on out of his sight. The fourth official keeps an extra set of records, and helps make sure the referee does not make a serious error such as cautioning the wrong player, or giving two cautions to the same player and forgetting to send off the player.
The fourth official played a significant role in the 2006 World Cup final when fourth official Luis Medina Cantalejo informed referee Horacio Elizondo of the headbutt of France’s Zinedine Zidane against Marco Materazzi of Italy, resulting in Elizondo showing Zidane a red card and sending him from the field.