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Chennai Football Association refereeing standards alarm players, coaches

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System, not referees, to blame: Sabir Pasha

After the chaos that marred the previous Chennai Football Association (CFA) league, 2014 saw a fresh start. Following four years under an ad hoc committee, elections were finally held as directed by the Tamil Nadu Football Association (TFA), and a new set of office-bearers took charge in early March.

There was substantial increase in prize money and in a first, cash prizes were announced for the lower divisions as well. A partnership was also formed with a city-based hospital for healthcare facilities.

But, for all the things that were done off the field, a key on-field aspect, refereeing, seems to have stained the league. There have been widespread complaints from players and coaches, both from the senior and lower divisions, about the standards.

Said Hindustan Eagles’ technical director Abraham Varghese: “The overall standard has been bad, but the authorities don’t seem to be bothered. Teams are being punished and players are getting demoralised.”

No response

Thangaraj, coach of SC Steds, a team which was relegated from the senior division last year, feels it’s a problem in every match. “It’s not up to the mark. We have appealed many times but there is no response.”

Part of the problem, it is said, is because the CFA referees’ committee, which was nominated by the TFA before the elections, and CFA do not see eye-to-eye.

“Any elected body should have the right to form its own committee,” says CFA president Varun Tripuraneni. “We should have had the right. I don’t know what is holding them back.

“We requested, but were asked not to tamper with it for the good of the league. So all we could do was request them to have a word and keep motivating them (referees).

“But, more than that, the referees are experienced and mistakes could have been avoided.”

On his part, CFA referees’ committee convener Jeyapaul Fernando said, the TFA was willing to reconstitute the committee but the referees objected to some names suggested by the CFA. It may be recalled that on April 14, the referees, who were officiating in various divisions, including the senior division, had threatened to pull out, protesting against the appointment of a match commissioner in a third division match.

Too much pressure

As for the errors, Fernando felt the reason could be that since so many matches were being held at the same time on different grounds (senior, first, second and third), it becomes difficult to juggle referees and young referees might feel the pressure of the senior division too much to handle.

He also added that given the tight schedule, they couldn’t get the time to conduct a refresher course. “We know that is very important. We will do it at the end of the league,” he said.

But all this has affected the teams the most. Both Varghese and Thangaraj feel that it’s a huge problem — more so for private clubs — for most teams are cash-strapped and sponsorship money is hard to come by, if results are not good.

Word of caution

However, noted former India international and current Indian Bank coach Sabir Pasha sounded a word of caution. “Refereeing is a thankless job. No one makes mistakes on purpose. It is the fault of those who appointed them without sufficient experience,” he said.

Focus is now on the TFA executive committee meeting which is set to be held in Udhagamandalam on June 7 where the issue is set to be discussed among other things.

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2018 12:54:37 AM | http://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/chennai-football-association-refereeing-standards-alarm-players-coaches/article6063648.ece