By Grace Chingoma
ZIFA Referees’ Committee boss Gladmore Muzambi says it’s premature for anyone to make conclusive judgment on whether assistant referee Thomas Kusosa made a terrible blunder leading to the abandonment of the Castle Lager Premiership showdown between Highlanders and Dynamos at Barbourfields on Sunday.
The big match, which attracted a sell-out crowd, was abandoned in the 42nd minute when some Bosso hooligans refused to let the assistant referee continue running the line, on their side of the field, accusing him of having betrayed their club.
Spirited pleas by the club’s leadership, players and technical team, for the riotous fans to let the game resume, failed to bear fruit as they called for Kusosa’s replacement or that he switched to the other side of the field.
The Gweru-based assistant referee, who has won awards of excellence in the past four years, was also hit by a flying object thrown from the stand.
Muzambi told The Herald that it was premature, right now, for a conclusive judgment to be reached to say that Kusosa might have made a huge blunder when Dynamos scored the contentious equaliser that sparked the mayhem.
Highlanders have since been dragged for a disciplinary hearing by the Premier Soccer League. The hearing would be conducted next Tuesday. “We haven’t received clearer video footage which will help us in our determination whether the assistant referee’s decision was correct or incorrect,” Muzambi told The Herald.
“The one that is circulating on social media doesn’t give us a clearer view of whether the ball deflected from the defending player or whether the defending player deliberately played the ball. “The two scenarios will require a different decision from the assistant referee.
“So we have requested a better footage from SuperSport. Once we get that, then we review the decision and see whether the assistant referee made a wrong call or a correct one. “Then we will advise the ZIFA board.”
ZIFA president Phillip Chiyangwa is the chairman of the Referees Committee.
Muzambi further explained the change of the offside rule. “What they are now saying is that if a defending player intentionally plays the ball assuming the ball goes to an opponent who is in an offside position, the opponent shall not be penalised,” he said.
Muzambi said the law was effected in June last year. “The laws of the game come into effect from July 1 of every year and expire June 30 the following year expect in the World Cup year. That year they come into effect on June 1,” he said.
“If a referee is reported to have performed below par by the match commissioner, whether the club complains or not, action is taken by the Referees Committee.
“There are a variety of sanctions like suspensions.
“Our referees have done well for now. I can say they heeded the call from our chairman and president of our football association when he addressed them last year and said he wanted them to up their performance.”
Communication from the International Football Association Board, the organisation in charge of writing and amending regulations that govern world football, also revealed that, contrary to the widely-held view that Kusosa made a monumental blunder, the issue could be a delicate one. The difference, in whether the ball that strayed to DeMbare’s Christain Ntoupa Epoupa was a miskick, which would have kept him offside, or an attempt — even a failed one — by defender Raphael Muduwa to clear the ball, provides the thin line in determination of whether an offence was committed or not.
The one-dimensional replays, being shown so far, are inconclusive and could be an indictment on the SuperSport commentary team that rushed to condemn Kusosa as having blundered horribly by allowing a goal scored from an apparent offside position.
The IFAB Technical Director David Elleray yesterday cast light on the issue and said, according to the latest amendments to Law 11:
If a defending player “deflects” a pass from an opponent which immediately goes to a player who was in an offside position then that player can be penalised for offside.
If a defending player deliberately plays the ball and it goes to a player who was in an offside position then that player is not penalised for offside. It does not matter if the ball does not go where the defender intended, if he played the ball deliberately then the Law does not exist to “save” his poor play.
In simple terms a “deflection” is when the player does not move towards the ball or make an attempt to play it (in effect he is “hit” by the ball).
The local refereeing experts, themselves, failed to agree on Monday with one saying, as far as he could see, the assistant referee should have penalised the Cameroonian for being in an offside position.