The Super League of Malawi (Sulom) has said it is exploring the idea of rotating referees following concerns raised by most clubs that match officials favour teams from their regions.
However, Sulom president Innocent Bottomani admitted that funding would be a challenge in pursuit of the plan.
“Of late, teams have been complaining that they do not get fair officiation when they play away and we feel one way of addressing the issue would be to rotate referees.
“For example, when a team from Lilongwe comes to play in Blantyre, match officials from Zomba or the North can be assigned for the games.
“In that way, we would be able to address those concerns, but the only challenge would be funding as it may require extra expenses,” said Bottomani.
Mighty Wanderers coach Franco Ndawa and his Big Bullets counterpart Eddington Ngâ€™onamo as well as Civo United mentor Alex Masanjala hailed the flagship league governing body for the proposed move.
Said Ndawa: “I believe referees are spoiling the game because they always favour teams from their regions.
“And if Sulom is exploring the idea of rotation then it will definitely improve the situation. It is unfortunate that at a time when the standards of the game are improving, referees are failing to take a firm line because of favouritism.”
Ngâ€™onamo said the issue of referees siding with teams from their region or base has been outstanding.
“I started raising this issue last year because whenever we travel to either Lilongwe or Mzuzu, we always face problems of officiation,” said Ngâ€™onamo.
On his part, Masanjala said apart from favouring teams from their bases, some referees are also often incompetent.
“It is a big problem and the sooner it is addressed, the better. But incompetence also plays a part,” noted Masanjala.
Kabwafu FC general secretary Watson Zimba also said his club has experienced problems with officiation when playing away.
“Whenever we travel to the other regions, we always have problems with officiation. I have in mind the issue of added time. For example, when a referee from the South is officiating a team from the same region and it is on the losing side, time is added on unnecessarily and it can be frustrating.
“So, if Sulom is considering the issue of rotation of referees, then it is a welcome development and we hope it will be implemented,” said Zimba.
However, Silver Strikers team manager Sâ€™busiso Padambo did not agree with other teamsâ€™ views, saying club officials have a problem accepting results.
“All these problems come about because teams have problems accepting results whenever they are on the losing side. So, I would not really agree with the theory that referees favour teams from their regions or bases,” said Padambo.
Central Region Referees Committee (CRRC) chairperson Williams Chikontha and Southern Region committee GS Fransisco Scova shared Padamboâ€™s views.
“I would not agree with the notion that referees favour teams from their regions and if that is the case then certainly not in the Centre because referees conduct themselves professionally.
“Time and again, I go to watch games and I have never seen anything like that. If anything, the problem is that every team wants to come out triumphant. But if Sulom feels there is need to rotate referees, then it would be good because it would ease suspicion,” said Chikontha.
On his part Scova said: “I do not think the problem is with the referees. Of course, referees are only human and once in a while they are bound to make mistakes, but to allege that they favour teams from their bases is not true.
“Teams should learn to accept results of the games and be able to understand laws of the game.”