Last weekend must have been particularly bad for referees in the English Premier League. I normally do not comment on specific refereeing decisions because I understand the difficult circumstances these men (and women) operate under and I strongly believe that it changes nothing to speculate on how differently things might have turned out if the correct decision were made.
What stood out last weekend, however, was that there were just too many controversial decisions in a game too many. These decisions included goals scored from offside positions which were allowed to stand, legitimate goals that were disallowed, offences that were harshly sanctioned and those that were treated with incredible lenience â€” in the eyes of the majority that is.
When you have a weekend like that, you inevitably get the debate on the involvement of technology in decision-making reignited. A wrong call is very costly as it can be the difference between being relegated and remaining in the league, winning the title and playing second fiddle, keeping oneâ€™s job as manager and losing it and it is always painful to be at the wrong end of such controversial decisions.
But as I said, I empathise with the referees. I have sat on television and seen a passage of action in real time and form one view only to change it when given the benefit of a replay. What it means, therefore, is that if I were a referee, I would most likely have made the wrong decision because it is the initial view that would have informed it. Referees and their assistants do not have a second chance to review an incident.
Of course, there will always be conspiracy theories when there is an apparent pattern in the controversial decisions that a particular referee makes in relation to a particular set of teams. It is very difficult in such circumstances to sustain the argument that all these mistakes are made honestly and that is why one hears referees being associated, rightly or wrongly, with certain clubs.
Talk of conspiracy theories; does national football coach Kinnah Phiri not just love them? Every time he has been criticised, he has not missed a moment to point out that there are some people who are after his job. In other words, if you are a coach and you criticise his team selection and tactics during a game, you must be doing so out of sheer desire to replace the former striker.
That is why I am not surprised at all to hear suggestions that there is a rift between Kinnah and his assistant Young Chimodzi. I do not know the full story and there may be indeed some truth in the suspicion, but I am inclined to believe that Kinnah simply has some measure of paranoia which makes him feel insecure at times.
I think that rather than paper over the cracks within the technical panel, FAM must get to the bottom of the issue and resolve it as a matter of urgency.