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Referees may boycott league games

Premier League match officials are threatening to boycott games scheduled for the 7th of October unless their travelling and accommodation conditions are to be satisfied by the football authorities, this publication has established.

The gripe, WeekendSport understands, is that match officials want their outstanding balances from the previous league season settled. The officials are further saying the conditions inferred upon them this coming season fall short to satisfy their welfare. It is understood that the league, this season, is contemplating altering some of their conditions of service and this has apparently rubbed the officials the wrong way. Those in the thick of things say the league house is planning on having match officials paying for their own accommodation as well as fuel when on duty outside Gaborone and are expected to submit receipts for reconciliation at the end of the trip.

Informants say this proposal has not gone down well with the officials and at most, prefer to stick to the old way of doing things. During last season’s campaign, accommodation and travelling expenses were incurred by the premier league, a move that is believed to have won over the referees, endearing troubled premier league Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bennett Mamelodi, to them.

However, defendants of the match officials ‘past system’ admit that it was a welcome move but the expenses have weighed heavily on the back of the league.

“It was a good idea to book accommodations and rent cars for them, but it’s unfortunate that people are not aware that this has proven to be an expensive exercise for the league,’’ a premier league chairman disclosed. He further said, “You will not believe it when I say that at the close of the past season, match officials expenses were reaching the P1 million mark.”

When asked to field WeekendSport enquiries, the acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the premier league, Thabo Ntshinogang, admitted that indeed there is money that is still owed to the match officials. He however could not say much on the issue, saying he is still new in office, and therefore was best to familiarise himself with the files before he can share details.  “I can tell you there is an issue of match officials because there are outstanding money that the league owes them, but we have already sat down with them to discuss the issue to see how best the money can be paid to them.” He further added that, “but be aware that some of the things are beyond my understanding because I have just assumed the portfolio.”

Over the years, Botswana has produced referees albeit through difficult conditions. Joshua Bondo is one of few notable referees the country has produced thus far. To this date, the country prides itself with his performances. He has officiated at just about each and every game and tournament locally and in Africa. Bondo officiated in last year’s Africa Nations Championships, World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations, CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup, Under-23 Championships and the COSAFA Senior Challenge. He was recently nominated for the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) Best Umpire/Referee of the Year award. It has been a great story for local match officials. Alongside him, there are other notable referees, among them; Meshack Medupe, the history-making Oamogetse Godisamang, Lekgotla Johannes, the ever impressive Tirelo Mositwane, Kutlwano Leso and Moemedi Monakwane, all have their fair share of the glory, officiating in international games.

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