If FKF does not fix refereeing the quality of the game will drop

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OPINION If FKF does not fix refereeing the quality of the game will drop

Festus Chuma 10:22 - 11.02.2023

Referees should be punished for officiating mistakes in FKF Premier League matches

In recent weeks, Football Kenya Federation Premier League (FKFPL) post-match press briefings have been dominated by laments from coaches on the poor standards of referring in the league.

Most of the gaffers have been complaining that referees have turned to award false offenses, penalties, goals and where there should have been a penalty, they turn away without blowing a whistle.

Well, the Premier League is about to hit the half of the season with most of the 18 teams having played 15 games so far.

Many fans, mainly from the teams that have been favored by the controversial decisions, will argue it's too early to predict who will take this season’s league. Still, affected coaches and players will tell you how poor refereeing affects the beautiful game.

The latest coach to comment on blatant errors from referees is Tusker FC coach Robert Matano.

Speaking after the Brewers’ 2-1 loss to Gor Mahia on Wednesday, Matano openly slammed center referee Meshack Odhiambo for poor game handling.

The former AFC Leopards coach alleged that the penalty that his boys conceded in the closing stages of the match was unfairly awarded, while the first goal was also questionable.

Similar sentiments had been issued the previous weekend by Nairobi City Stars coach Nicholas Muyoti, who claimed that his team has been on the receiving end of unfair decisions during matches.

The former Kenyan international claimed the referee spoilt an otherwise very good game by allowing the goal in his side's 1-0 loss to Gor Mahia at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, on February 3, 2023.

The same weekend Patrick Aussems questioned the referees' judgments and called the match officials that were in place incompetent. The Belgian noted that officiating in his team’s 0-0 draw against Nzoia Sugar was below standards.

Though the dubious calls by the referees do not constitute substandard officiating in general, serious steps need to be taken by the Kenya Football Refereing Association before the beautiful game sinks.

Many will argue that the referees are suffering in silence as they are not paid their allowances on time by the FKF hence the low morale.

In the past, clubs would split the costs, but with the arrival of sponsors a decade ago, the role was assumed by FKF. However, the sponsors have since left, and the federation appears to be unable to honor the obligation hence exposing Kenya’s top flight to risks of match manipulation.

Match officials assigned away fixtures and have to travel long distances to do duty have complained of fatigue as they get little time to rest.

The biased refereeing partly explains why it’s difficult to earn an away win in Kenyan football. It is believed that most host teams bribe officials to swing the games in their favour though no evidence has been attached yet.

It’s high time teams win fairly, or else the beautiful game in the country is ruined.