Referees in Morocco got a shot in the arm when the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (RMFF) gave them a relief package of 550 euros (R10,000) each to cushion them during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The deadly pandemic shut the door on football activities worldwide, forcing leagues to pause. Subsequently, the earnings of the referees stopped in the absence of football matches in the north African country.

According to the RMFF, 95% of the country’s match officials, who earn their cheque from officiating in games, were left with no source of income.

The federation has stepped in to soften the blow following an urgent virtual meeting earlier this month where it was decided to extend relief to refs after reviewing their situation.

“During this meeting, the RMFF decided to set up a support plan for national referees. Indeed, 95% of our referees no longer have any income, as they do not carry out any activity complementary to that of an official referee,” read a statement.

The relief package is for the months of March, April and May.

Morocco’s refs played a pivotal role when the North African country became the first nation on the continent to use the Video Assistant Referee technology (VAR) in a domestic match. The federation said it recognised the role played by referees in that milestone.

“The introduction of this technology also responded to the need to consolidate the independence of referees in decision-making and to ensure equal opportunities for all national clubs,” it added.

Prior to the adoption of this technology, the RMFF put in place adequate and specific training for referees. These training sessions took place in the ultra-modern Mohammed VI Football Complex with the participation of 110 female and male referees and assistant referees in 10-day training courses.

At the training, Moroccan referees were apprised on the new FIFA refereeing rules.

Football stars world over have had to take pay cuts as clubs try to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.