SA football has no reason to delay introducing video assistant refereeing (VAR) after a spate of bad decisions by match officials in the 2018-19 Premier Soccer League (PSL) season‚ Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt says.
The Clever Boys were on the receiving end of bad decisions in their 1-1 drawn Premiership match against SuperSport United a week ago when referee Phelelani Ndaba disallowed a legitimate goal that could have kept Wits in the league title race had they won.
Ndaba has since been suspended for three months by the SA Football Association (Safa)‚ but Hunt says SA football needs more than the suspension of officials to improve.
The Wits coach is advocating for the implementation of VAR in the PSL. The system is already in operation in some European leagues.
“I think it’s all over the world [referees making mistakes]. The game is so fast now it’s very difficult to make decisions‚” he says. “That’s why you need VAR and that type of stuff ... it helps you. It would have helped us last week [against SuperSport].”
Hunt is a big fan of VAR and says it helps referees make the correct calls and review their decisions in situations where they are not sure whether the ball crossed the line or not.
“I think it saves careers‚ it saves jobs and it gets the right decision. So it is going to help‚” says the Wits coach.
“All sports are moving towards review systems … cricket‚ rugby. Soccer has been the last to move forward with that type of thing. We need decisions to be made correctly.
“Sometimes it’s going to go against you because you’ll think you’ve scored a legitimate goal but there was an offside. And sometimes it’s going to go for you‚ like last week.”
Hunt declined to comment on whether SA referees are good or bad.
“My biggest thing with referees is they need a better rapport with players‚ and a better rapport with how the game is managed‚” he says. “That’s what I’ve always said. There are a lot of ex-players who complain they have no jobs‚ they’ve got no life‚ why don’t they become referees? There’s a career there.”
Wits are out of the league title race and Hunt puts the blame partly on wrong refereeing decisions.
“We’ve felt the brunt of it this year for sure. Some of the free kicks turned to goals when they shouldn’t have been. That’s disappointing, but hopefully it evens itself out.”