The saying that “you can’t escape the long arm of the law” seemed apt this week when the SA Football Association (Safa) finally sanctioned match officials – two seasons after their offence.
Safa’s disciplinary committee came down heavily on officials who were found guilty of various misdemeanours and were suspended for three months to two seasons.
Safa spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi said they had to take their time to ensure the matter was thoroughly investigated. This was after assistant referee Linos Hobwane was found guilty of supplying false information.
Early last year, Hobwane claimed he was attacked and assaulted by AmaZulu players after a National First Division game against Baroka at Old Peter Mokaba Stadium.
Hobwane’s “crime” was to award a goal to Baroka after AmaZulu goalkeeper Sage Stephens apparently stopped the ball with his full body behind the goal line, but Usuthu players argued that the keeper was impeded.
AmaZulu later issued an apology on their website: “We note the match commissioner’s report for our fixture versus Baroka FC. We accept that members of our team did commit some misdemeanours, which would have put the [league] and football in disrepute. For that, we unreservedly apologise to the league, its sponsors and partners. We, as a club, have resumed a process of taking strong action against perpetrators of some of the misdemeanours. We have requested footage from the league to assist us in establishing these.”
But the club also said that the apology was not an admission of guilt, “nor is it concurring with the match commissioner’s report in full”.
Hobwane now faces two seasons outside football after he was served with a two-year suspension.
Rudzani Mulaudzi, who was the match commissioner during the match in question and agreed with Hobwane on the assault allegations, was also charged for providing false information.
He was suspended as a match commissioner for the rest of the season and was also asked to write an apology letter to Safa.
Another match official, Thabo Thinane, faces three months suspension after he was found guilty of using the medical certificate of another official during the fitness test.
Chimhavi said: “Our stance has always been zero tolerance to any corrupt activity. This is also evidenced by recent pronouncements by CAF that we were the leading country when it came to producing the best and ethical match officials.”