In a dramatic turn of events in South African football, referee Luxolo Badi finds himself under intense scrutiny and potential backlash following what many have deemed one of the most lackluster refereeing performances of the season.
Badi’s questionable decisions during the MTN8 semifinal match between Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns in Atteridgeville last Saturday have left fans, pundits, and officials alike demanding answers.
Badi’s Controversial Calls
During the high-stakes encounter, Badi made several decisions that have come under heavy criticism.
Among these, perhaps the most glaring was his failure to award a penalty when Sundowns’ Thapelo Maseko appeared to hack down Mduduzi Mdantsane from behind inside the penalty box.
With the referee mere meters away from the incident, this non-call has left many speculating how it might have changed the outcome of the match, with Kaizer Chiefs needing just one goal to upstage the Brazilians.
Reactions and Demands for VAR
The aftermath of the match saw TV referee pundits and analysts sharply criticise the refereeing team for their perceived incompetence.
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Calls for the implementation of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology in the league have grown louder.
Supporters of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) argue that VAR could help prevent such substandard officiating from persisting in the future.
Abdul Ebrahim, the head of refereeing at the South African Football Association (Safa), has refrained from confirming or denying any action against Badi and his assistants, Kenny Mamegwa and Lubabalo Pitsah.
Ebrahim explained that he is awaiting the report from his review team and refrains from offering a personal opinion on the matter.
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He emphasized that the decision would be based on the findings of the review panel.
Rehabilitation for Nkomo and Sebati
In a related incident from August, referee Siyabonga Nkomo and his linesman Thamaga Sebati received a 16-week Rehabilitation Programme suspension for their costly errors in a match involving Sekhukhune United and Moroka Swallows.
Ebrahim noted that both officials are making progress in their rehabilitation programs and are receiving guidance from instructors in their respective provinces.
VAR Remains a Distant Hope
Ebrahim clarified that the implementation of VAR is not within Safa’s purview but rather a matter handled by higher authorities in the football governing body.
This leaves South African football fans with a sense of longing for a technology that could potentially mitigate future officiating controversies.