A FORTNIGHT ago the Federation of International Football Associations (Fifa) announced a life ban for Ghanaian referee Joseph Odartei Lamptey after he awarded a dubious penalty which enabled South Africa to overcome Senegal 2-1 in a 2018 World Cup qualifier on 12 November, 2016 at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, South Africa.
“The Fifa Disciplinary Committee has decided to ban the Ghanaian match official Joseph Odartei Lamptey from taking part in any kind of football-related activity (administrative, sports or any other) at national and international level for life,” FIFA said in a statement which followed a complaint by the Senegal Football Federation over the manner in which Lamptey had handled the tie.
“The official was found guilty of breaching act. 69 par. 1 (unlawfully influencing match results) of the Fifa Disciplinary Code during the 2018 Fifa World Cup Russia qualifying match between South Africa and Senegal on 12 November 2016.”
Harsh and severe as it the FIFA decision may appear, one would think that Lamptey had it coming and he has no one but himself to blame for his comeuppance.
After all, the gentleman is no stranger to controversy as he had previously been on the receiving end of a three month suspension from the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
This makes one think there could be justice after all in this our beautiful game whose lustre has oftentimes been eroded by referees who destroy months and even years of financial investments and preparations by clubs with just one blow of the whistle to give a dubious goal, a dubious penalty, a dubious red card or a simply denying a legitimate goal.
Our own league has not been spared the controversy and there have been times when our referees have given disgracefully below-par performances.
The second round of the Vodacom Premier League is the most critical period as the teams would have entered the home stretch in the race for the title, a top four or top eight finish while some will be in the scrap heap fighting for their survival in the top flight.
This is the time where referees’ decisions can make or break teams.
I have witnessed instances of teams losing important matches because of apparently dubious decisions by referees but I do not recall any action being taken to rein in on such officials or sanction them in any way.
The Lesotho Referees Committee has often claimed to have taken disciplinary measures against some of the errant referees but never once in my long time of following local football have I heard of a referee being suspended for poor officiating.
If they have, I stand to be corrected but then again the question to be asked is why would such decisions be done in secret, if at all?
Just across the border, the South African Football Association’s (SAFA) Referees’ Review Committee publicly announced the suspension of the likes of Phillip Tinyane and Victor Hlungwani for poor officiating in that country.
It is only fair that football supporters get to know about such decisions because it gives them closure and act as a deterrent to would-be offenders.
It has become something of a culture that at this time every season, teams complain about poor officiating and nothing is ever done to investigate and take action.
Football is not a secret affair as it is played in the open where anyone can come and watch.
It is only fair that reviews of refereeing decisions especially where there are suspicions and proof of wrong-doing be made public as well.
I always ask myself about the conscience or lack of it of our match officials. How do they sleep at night knowing their shoddy performances are the source of consternation?
My appeal for transparency should not, however, be construed as a tacit endorsement of the hooliganism and unruly behaviour of some players and supporters who sometimes take matters into their own hands and attack match officials.
Players must concentrate on their job on the field while fans must stick to supporting.
Referees must be up to their tasks while the authorities must also perform theirs including sanctioning errant match officials.