Bad publicity costing refs big time: Mukuna

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    Referee Batsirai Muchenje shows a red card to Black Rhinos player Abel Gada and Dynamos striker Rodreck Mutuma, as Rhinos coach Jostein Mathuthu tries to stop him from issuing out the cards in a league match at Rufaro Stadium last season

    Referee Batsirai Muchenje shows a red card to Black Rhinos player Abel Gada and Dynamos striker Rodreck Mutuma, as Rhinos coach Jostein Mathuthu tries to stop him from issuing out the cards in a league match at Rufaro Stadium last season

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    Zimbabwean referees could be failing to make it to regional and continental tournaments like the Africa Cup of Nations due to bad media publicity, an official has said.

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    Zifa Referees’ Committee vice- chairperson Wilfred Mukuna said the non-participation of local referees at the Afcon tournament whose curtain comes down in Equatorial Guinea today has nothing to do with the poor showing of the national football team’s performance on the continental platform.

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    “This selection is done a year prior to the tournament and the identified referees are monitored over the year then trimmed to the required number for both referees and assistant referees. Bad media publicity also plays a part in the selection as Fifa/Caf read all matters relating to football in all the countries.

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    “There is actually a person employed to read these articles every day. It has nothing to do with a country’s qualification as you can see we have Mauritius, Seychelles, Ethiopia and Madagascar match officials at the current Afcon,” Mukuna said.

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    Fifa and Caf select a number of referees from its Elite Referees’ Panel. They have three categories — Elite A, Elite B and Young Talent. And it is from this panel that they select possible candidates for the coming tournaments.

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    Referee Norman Matemera and first assistant Salani Ncube are in the Young Talent category, while Tapfumaneyi Mutengwa is on the Elite B list.

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    The last time local referees were at a regional or continental tournament was when female assistant referee Claris Simango officiated at the Women Afcon finals in Namibia last year. Stellah Ruvinga did duty at the same tournament in Equatorial Guinea two years ago.

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    Mukuna said soon promising referees and assistants will be participating at the top level if the officiating of six match officials at the just ended Africa Union Sports Council Region five Under-20 games in Bulawayo was anything to go by.

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    “It’s not a secret that its (Zimbabwe) instructors are at the top in Fifa/Caf. This is achieved by the referees sacrificing their resources to improve themselves.

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    “If we had corporate bodies coming to the party to sponsor our training programmes we could have more days on training as opposed to two days.

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    “This is mainly due to financial constraints, five days is the ideal time to spend on quarterly training we have per year. We have referees who can hold their own at these tournaments. It is a matter of time and luck.

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    “Refereeing is an art and no matter how good the instruction is the individual has to perfect it. It is not an overnight process.

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    You have to work on it as a sculptor or moulder. We must not forget that Africa has 54 nations with an average of seven male match officials per country whilst only 32 officials are chosen for Afcon,” Mukuna said.

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    “We got young referees like Chimene, Salani Ncube and Victor Kambadzo who I believe can make an impact in the near future. Last week Mutengwa was appointed to officiate at the Afcon Under-17 tournament pencilled in for Niger later this month.

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    However, it remains to be seen whether these referees will scale the same heights as their predecessors Mukuna and Felix Tangawarima.