Victor doesn’t have to instil fear to get respect

2020-02-17 10:53

If there is one thing I like about soccer referee Victor Gomes, it’s his decisiveness – he makes a decision and sticks to it. And he has to be commended for that.

He doesn’t shy away from making an unpopular decision, either – right or wrong.

The thing about match officials – here at home, at least – is that they have to live with their decisions as they do not have the benefit of video assistant referee replays like leagues overseas do.

However, as much as they are human, I feel that match officials get away with murder far too often.

Gomes is held in high esteem on the continent, judging by how many times he is assigned high-profile matches.

On Friday, he was in the middle of the CAF Super Cup final between the CAF Champions League winners Espérance of Tunisia and the CAF Confederation Cup champions Zamalek from Egypt in Qatar. This is how much he is revered in African football.

But, having said that, there are also things I dislike about Gomes, particularly his emotions when officiating. He often tends to be too emotionally involved in the game – unnecessarily so – and ends up hogging the limelight.

Although he has been praised for being brave in some instances, I believe that Gomes lacks man management skills – he often lets some of his decisions stand instead of applying some common sense.

We are often told that there is a boss and a leader. There is also a distinction between game management and man management – in this case, player management.

Gomes regularly hogs the limelight instead of letting players shine on what is supposed to be their stage.

Just last week, he was in the news again for all the wrong reasons. Instead of the supporters praising him for his CAF appointment, the focus was on his officiating in the Nedbank Cup match between Orlando Pirates and Bidvest Wits last Sunday.

One thing I have observed about Gomes over the years is that he wants to instil fear in the players so that he can get their respect. He acts like those old school masters who just wanted to punish pupils to assert their authority.

In a football match, just like in life in general, two wrongs don’t make a right and you can’t make up for a lost opportunity.

Firstly, Gomes awarded Wits a dubious penalty after he adjudged the ball to have hit a Pirates player’s hand when it clearly did not.

I’m sure that, in hindsight, he would have realised his mistake, but, unfortunately, referees have only one opportunity to make decisions. And as the golden rule states, the ref’s decision is final.

In the same game at Orlando Stadium, Gomes denied Wits what looked like a legitimate penalty call. And guess what? Immediately after waving play on, he awarded Pirates a penalty (correctly, by the way).

Then, in the ensuing melee, Gomes gave Wits player Elias Pelembe two yellow cards in quick succession – the first one for protesting the decision and the second for dissent, which resulted in a red card.

Pelembe had to go for an early shower.

To me, what Gomes did there showed a lack of player management.

We all know that emotions tend to boil over when things don’t go your way in football, but all the referee needed to do was put himself in the player’s position and think about how he would have reacted in a similar situation.

To me, it looks like he went to officiate the match with some sort of revenge in mind.

His colleague Masixole Bambiso was assaulted by Wits players during their league game against Cape Town City last month. In that game, Wits goalkeeper Ricardo Goss and midfielder Sameehg Doutie charged at Bambiso after he awarded City a penalty. The two players have since been charged with assault and misconduct by the PSL.

One thing I have observed about Gomes over the years is that he wants to instil fear in the players so that he can get their respect. He acts like those old school masters who just wanted to punish pupils to assert their authority.

Gomes must be respected and not feared, however, the players end up being intimidated by his presence. He should rather earn their respect.

As much as players regularly get away with murder, be it with time-wasting tactics or by feigning injuries, match officials should study their behaviour before dishing out punishment.

There is no doubt that Gomes is an excellent match official, but these smallernyana things sully his reputation. He needs to work on them for his star to shine even brighter. The ball is in his court now.

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March 29 2020