Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
THE Premier Soccer League are exploring the possibility of getting a technical partner to take care of the match fees paid to referees who handle their matches as part of a drive to boost the credibility of the country’s top-fight league.
For years, home clubs have been responsible for the payment of match fees to the referees, which some analysts believe could improve the transparency of the league.
Although ZIFA and the PSL agree on the amount which the referees have to be paid, which should be uniform unless changes have been effected, there have been fears some clubs inflate such payments.
Given the payments are done behind closed doors, there is no guarantee that the home clubs actually pay the stipulated amounts.
There have always been fears that some home clubs could inflate the payments to the referees to try and coerce them to aid their cause in some matches.
A corporate partner, who takes care of the expenses, would eliminate such challenges.
The PSL have revealed they do not have the capacity to cater for referees’ remuneration and will not be in a position to bail them out during this COVID-19 induced crisis.
The South African Football Association have a R50 million sponsorship deal with OUTsurance for the upkeep of match officials.
However, that deal has been opposed by that country’s Premier Soccer League who say it violates their sponsorship deals with ABSA who also offer similar insurance packages.
The matter has been referred to arbitration and a ruling is expected this year.
PSL chairman, Farai Jere, yesterday told The Herald that in as much as they understood the plight of their members, at the moment, they could not take over the costs related to the payment of referees should matches get underway.
“These are serious budgetary issues. We don’t have the money to do that,’’ Jere said. “You don’t do things simply because others have done that.
“It all depends on your budget and availability of funds.’’
He said they were still, working together with the ZIFA leadership, pursuing the path of engaging technical partners who might want to come on board in this area.
“That is an option which we have been pursuing together with ZIFA,’’ said Jere.” We want as many sponsors as possible at both ZIFA and PSL.
“Remember, I also sit on the ZIFA board. This is one area we have been pursuing. We really want to bring on board as many sponsors as possible because that’s what makes football tick.
“Sponsorship is the lifeblood of football.’’
In the past, some clubs have run into problems after late payments to the match officials and this has, in turn, created bad publicity for the league and their sponsors.
ZIFA have since committed to a one-off payment to cushion referees during the COVID-19 lockdown and will pay each of the country’s top 80 referees $2 000 each.
In South Africa, the decision by SAFA to go into bed with OUTsurance, who came in as a technical partner who take care of the referees in a R50 million deal, has caused friction between the association and the league.
SAFA announced a five-year match official sponsorship deal with OUTsurance but the PSL argued that the partnership was in conflict with the rights of their partners — Nedbank and Absa.
The two banking giants, who both sponsor the league, offer the services which are provided by OUTsurance.
The PSL accused SAFA of “ambush marketing,’’ amid reports that talks between the two bodies had become extremely complex last year.
This week, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development in Botswana, Tumiso Rakgare, revealed the Government’s plans to help the elite and second-tier leagues with subsidies, to help them in meeting the players’ salaries, amid the crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said referees would be taken care of by the Botswana Football Association.
“Sports was the first discipline to be affected by COVID-19 as we can remember when the (Botswana) Under 17 were denied their travel to Morocco for a return leg of the FIFA World Cup qualifier in March,’’ Rakgare said.
“So, therefore the Government will be assisting the players with salaries for three months. The subsidy is only for Batswana players, technical and office staff.
“The teams are still be obligated to pay salaries of their players, this is just a subsidy.
“The monies will be directly deposited into player’s bank accounts to avoid situations where teams might use such funds for their daily expenses.’’
Rakgare said referees will be assisted through the FIFA relief fund as agreed with the BFA.