Sunday, October 9, 2016

Malawian Referees: An Enemy from Within

The dangerous tackle on Malawi football is made, not by Football Association of Malawi, Super League of Malawi, or Malawi National Council of Sports officials. No. The killer tackle is made from a whistle, blown by the shameless mouth of referees who demand a special visit, with 'special' amount of cash, before crucial Super League games.
And, yet, the referees receive their dues for officiating games.
And, yet, the referees opt for football, and not pig farming, because something inside their rational heads pushes them into the game.
The understanding is that the referee, though not neutral as the environment they grow in plays the role of fire that shapes their metal of life into adulthood, is supposed to rise above the waters offoolishness of bias.
Not with some Malawian referees--for to speak of all referees in the same bad breath is to be too general, and too unjust-- who treat the game as one of those little things to be spiced up with kick-backs.
For the past six months, Zachimalawi, which understands that money exchanges hands for some teams to consistently do well, has been investigating reports that some officials from some top notch clubs are elected by supporters of such clubs to simply play a role of palm-oiling whistle men and women.
And some whistle men-- and women? Let us call them officiating personnel-- have grown used to waiting for mid-night visits paid by officials who splash banknotes as little as K20, 000 to tilt the referees perceived impartiality towards bias.
So much so that, at the end of the day, it is not the labour of those involved on the field of play that determines the result of a game of soccer; it is the cash in the referee's pocket. The cash can be in the pocket, or left lying somewhere at home. But the fact is that the referee has pocketed something.
Just on Thursday this week, one football official from the clubs that have been clinching the Super League said: "My friend, Mighty Be Forward Wanderers, Mzuzu University, EPAC United, Civo Service United, Moyale Baracks, Azam Tigers, among other teams, cannot win the TNM Super League because their officials believe that they can win the Super League by playing 'clean soccer'. They are cheating themselves. They need someone to be chatting and visiting referees assigned to officiate high profile matches. Normally, K20, 000 does the trick.
"Often, the referee will appear to be making a genuine error when, in fact, they are aiding the team that has offered something. So, the referee may deny other teams a genuine penalty and give the other a penalty from nowhere. Sometimes, they send off someone or appear not to have noticed an infringement on football rules. It is part of the game," said the official.
Then, there is the tendency by some referees to favour home sides. If you are a Southern Region or Northern Region team and you are playing against a Central Region team, there will, probably be many decisions that go against your side. The same case often applies to teams from the other regions, so much so that it has become commonplace to hear a soccer official telling Malawi Broadcasting Corporation that "we will win, if officiation will be good" , or if the referees will not favour the home side.
And some referees are open supporters of some teams.
For example, one referee used to be in the supporters' committee of one of Malawi's top notch, but poor, teams. Today, he officiates games between his favourite teams and others, and no one wonders what went wrong for the open supporter of a well-known team to become a referee-- that human being holier enough to claim that there is any such thing as impartiality in this mediated world.
There, once upon a time, this one referee who used to give this one big team penalties in each and every game. That tall man retired with his reputation untainted, if only because people got used to his blatant bias that it became a normal way of life.
It is such a shame that people know these things but look aside.
Shame to referees who sell their soul for quick, hard cash! They are Malawi football's number one enemy!

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