Controversy is a word that is associated with referees in the Castle Larger Premier Soccer League over the years.

We have witnessed post match interviews where coaches criticise the referee’s decisions. Some players even get physical with the referees and manage to get away with it. In the late 80s, an Acturus Mine player stoned Showman Tsuro who was officiating the match for showing him a red card. Sadly Tsuro succumbed to the injuries and died.

Not so long ago, another embarrassing moment during a high profile match saw the then Masvingo United players Muzondiwa Gonese and Lloyd Hlahla attacking referee Philip Kawara. The players were banned for life but the sanction was overturned.

In another incident occurred last year, Division One side Victoria Falls Tigers player Lethukuthula Mathe was caught on camera physically assaulting referee Bekezela Makeka after he was shown a red card for a crude tackle on his opponent. The video went viral and was a talking point in football circles.

Several local cases of attacks on the referees has been reported.

However, on Sunday, the Chibuku Super Cup quarter final game between Shabanie Mine and CAPS United was abandoned after assistant referee Thomas Kusosa was injured after a missile was thrown from a bay housing CAPS United fans and hit him on the eye.

This was after he disallowed a goal by a CAPS player who scored from an offside position.

Match commissioner on the day, Gladmore Muzavasi described the attack as a serious one and required urgent medical attention.

“We had to call off the match after one of our assistant referees received a deep cut just above the eye when he was hit by a bottle and blood was gushing out. He is greatly traumatised so we cant continue,”  he said.

Judging from what the commissioner said, the big question is: Are the referees safe on the pitch?

In May this year, Kusosa was again a victim of circumstances after rowdy Highlanders fans pelted him with missiles for not waving for an offside the goal scored by Dynamos. The match was abandoned three minutes before half time.

Well, should we say this refereeing job has became the most dangerous trade in the country? We all should understand that some of the decisions made by the referee are guarded by rules and regulations of the game.

We can understand that the newly introduced Video Assistant Referee (VAR) and the Goal Line technology will go a long way in making some tight decisions which could have endangered the referees. But in a country like Zimbabwe where we don’t have such technology what will happen to our referees? The answer is obvious.

Lets just respect the referee’s decisions and make the pitch a better working environment for them. This is vital in developing football in our country. Where they make a bad call, let the referee’s committee decide and avoid taking matters to our hands.

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