Amid VAR Errors Abroad, Ease Up on Local Referees

The viral distressing video showing a section of Express FC fans torturing Assistant referee Fahad Ssekayuba has raised serious concerns about the escalation of violence on the local scene.

The gruesome attack on Ssekayuba, allegedly stemming from the fans’ belief that he allowed a crucial goal by UPDF, depicts a troubling pattern in the sport.

The fans, enraged by their perception of unfair refereeing decisions during the game, took matters into their own hands.

They intercepted the referees’ car, forcibly pulled out Ssekayuba, and subjected him to a brutal beating.

The assault left Ssekayuba severely injured, with profuse bleeding from his nose, mouth, and ears, necessitating immediate medical attention at Mulago hospital.

The fallout from this appalling incident prompted swift action from football governing bodies. The Uganda Football Referees Association (UFRA) responded by withdrawing all match officials from overseeing Express FC games until the individuals responsible for the assault are apprehended.

This move was swiftly followed by the FUFA Executive Committee’s decision to suspend all matches involving Express FC, resulting in the cancellation of their anticipated match against SC Villa.

Moses Magogo, President of FUFA, strongly condemned the violent actions, emphasizing that such behavior has no place in football.

He highlighted the legal consequences awaiting those engaged in violent acts, further reinforcing the commitment to punish repeated offenders.

There are better alternative means of demonstrating discontent with refereeing decisions, such as peaceful boycotts or official complaints, rather than resorting to physical aggression.

Drawing parallels to international leagues, notably the English Premier League, indicates that errors in refereeing decisions persist despite the implementation of technologies like VAR.

Recent controversial incidents in the Premier League reflect that referee mistakes are an inherent part of the game.

On Saturday, Arsenal’s streak of unbeaten league matches met an abrupt conclusion due to a contentious goal.

Anthony Gordon netted a goal for hosts Newcastle United at St James’ Park. Despite VAR reviewing for ball out-of-play, potential fouls, and offside, the goal notably stood.

Similar to Manchester United’s prior complaints, these officials have continued to make several erroneous decisions, displaying a consistent trend of questionable calls.

Yet, the issue goes beyond just referee mistakes. It lies in the response to these mistakes. While acknowledging the imperfections within the game, the use of violence in response to refereeing decisions is unequivocally unacceptable.

I want to make it clear here that my stance isn’t about defending referees, especially evident to those who follow my critiques of their performances on Twitter.

Refereeing poses an extraordinary challenge. While spectators mostly those viewing from the comfort of their homes benefit from replays, referees have an incredibly brief moment to decide.

Undoubtedly, referees also make plenty of correct decisions and that is their job. But due to the lack of understanding from certain players, club officials, and fans, their accurate judgments are sometimes misconstrued as mistakes.

And the disturbing trend nowadays is for many coaches to shift blame onto referees for their own errors during a match, evident from most of their post match interviews.

I hold a strong belief that our referees have the capacity to improve and should strive for it. Nonetheless, regardless of their shortcomings, resorting to violence should never be considered an acceptable response.

The recent ugly event by a section of Express fans highlights the urgent need for a collective effort to combat violence in football, and it’s now time to find constructive channels to address grievances within the game.

In essence, the assault on Assistant referee Fahad Ssekayuba is not just a singular incident but a symptom of a broader issue.

All that said, VIOLENCE has no place in this beautiful game.



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