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MBABANE – Why are clubs fined but referees go unpunished?

This is the million dollar question that teams under the Premier League of Eswatini (PLE), alongside fans and supporters, have been asking week in and week out as dubious decisions have been witnessed during games. Some of the decisions have led to match officials being attacked by crowds after blowing the final whistle. Top teams like Mbabane Highlanders and Mbabane Swallows have already paid E70 000 each, lost money after playing in empty stadiums for some of their home games due to their supporters’ violent attacks on referees at Mavuso Sports Centre.

It has come to this publication’s attention that teams will today have an opportunity for a face to face interaction with the Referees Committee (RC) leadership as well as an update on referees performance by the Eswatini Football Association (EFA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Frederick Mngomezulu. These are the bodies responsible for referees who have been adjudged to be often poor by most fans who in turn resort to attacking them.

“The issue of referees performance is top of the agenda tomorrow, at least the Referees Committee and the EFA will face the BoGs who are the club owners, who have a lot of questions about the standard of refereeing and the fact that world over poor officiating is punished with fines, suspensions and bans which is publicised but not in Eswatini, yet teams suffered in huge fines without revenue,” one BoG said as the two-day workshop agenda is believed to have only been shared with the clubs as it was treated with confidentiality.

Another source said it remained to be seen if the media would be allowed into the workshop billed for the Happy Valley Hotel and Casino this morning and tomorrow. The programme for today runs all day while the same is expected tomorrow.  The refereeing matter will start at 10am but shortly after the 2023/24 Club Licensing Requirements update.

“I anticipate that the Referees Committee and the EFA will come prepared to give us the responses and action we want to see in our football to improve. We want referees to be penalised like other top flight referees beyond our borders and it must be made public to avoid violence in stadiums.
“It is time we are given that measure as clubs. We also pay hugely in fines yet we don’t get anything back as revenue,” said another club BoG, who added that they also wanted the PLE to clear ticketing issues as there were questions about the money teams were getting as collections.


The ticketing matter is also part of the long programme and according to the schedule, it should commence at 1:30pm which will be after the lunch break. It is another issue that is expected to reach boiling point as clubs have had concerns about their share from the ticket sales which is handled by the PLE. Supporters and fans buy tickets through MoMo, but lately the PLE allowed clubs to receive cash at the stadium entry points in a bid to improve the collections teams received as their share after all deductions. PLE CEO Kenneth Makhanya could not be immediately reached on the matter despite an effort to solicit his comment.

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