The excitement, arguments and crazy celebrations form part of the goodies that football brings but some of the decisions being made by referees are in one way or the other lowering the spirit of fans for the game.
As custodians of matches, referees are expected to be neutral by officiating professionally and making fair judgments thereby avoiding the chances of leaving doubt in the fans.
The momentum of the league thus far has been great; Turnouts in the different venues have been exceptional.
Fans have being going the extra mile to support their teams by providing unflinching support to them but the manner in which some of these matches are being officiated has left most of them (the fans) with twisted faces.
The first match of the Sierra Leone Premier League that was played in Kenema between Kamboi Eagles and Diamond Stars ended in anarchy as a result of the referee’s decision by awarding a controversial goal to the home side (Kamboi Eagles).
That decision almost cost him his life as he was heated with an object from the crowd.
The match was brought to a standstill for a certain period of time as fans of the visiting team (Diamond Stars) went in a rancor.
In Freetown Old Edwardians (Old School Boys) locked horns with East End Lions (The Killers) at the Siaka Stevens Stadium which was their (Old Edwardians) first home match of the Sierra Leone Premier League (SLPL) campaign.
Raymond Caulker a certified FIFA referee was in charge of proceedings and as a result most fans felt satisfied with his presence prior to the match.
That satisfaction became questionable as the match progressed based on decisions that were made by Caulker.
He (Caulker) became the talking point of the game when he showed a red to an E.E Lions player but later changed it to a yellow.
This brought some disagreement between the players especially the Old Edwardians team who had wanted the player to leave the pitch premising it on the initial decision taken by Caulker, but their wish was not granted.
The Old School Boys lost the match by a goal to nil.
In another encounter, the intervention of security personnel saved referee SwahibBangura’s life after what was considered as poor officiating by him (Bangura) in the match between Port Authority and Mighty Blackpool left fans and players of Port outrageous.
The Water Front boys lost the match by a goal to nil of which poor officiating on the side of the referee was a major concern that led to the loss.
After some of these incidents the Sierra Leone Football Association Referees Committee imposed sanction on some of these referees.
Notably was SwahibBangura who was given a month suspension for his poor handling of the match between Blackpool and Port Authority.
This action by the association was considered as to be timely by some people as most of these referees tend to take their pre-existing biases to the matches they officiate.
The use of offside flag by linesmen is another issue at play.
During matches, they (linesmen) frequently flagged players as being in an offside position even when they (players) are not in those positions which usually killed the tempo.
Fans did question E.E Lions opener against Central Parade as it was considered to be an offside goal.
Officials are considered as experts who know what to do but to reduce the human error, in advance countries systems like goal line technology have been put in place to do away with errors in the game.
In Sierra Leone, the inception of a goal line technology is a reality which is far-fetched given our development strides.
We are imploring the referees and linesmen to execute their duties without biases.