A former President of the Referees Association of Ghana(RAG), Mr. Joe Debrah, says the attitude of referees captured in the ‘Number 12’ documentary by ace investigative Journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas has contributed to the low prestige and lack of trust from CAF and FIFA.
Mr. Debrah’s reaction is on the back of the absence of Ghanaian officials from the list of referees from Africa announced by FIFA for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Eight African referees were announced by FIFA to officiate at the World Cup recently.
They include Jean Jacques Ndala (Congo DR), Mustapha, Ghorbal (Algeria), Redouane Jiyed (Morocco), Papa Bakary Gassama (Gambia), Balmak Tessema (Ethiopia), Victor Gomez (South Africa), Janny Sikazwe (Zambia) and Maguette N’diaye (Senegal).
According to the retired FIFA referee, Ghanaian referees are not getting the necessary recognition from CAF and FIFA anymore because of the documentary that captured top Ghanaian referees accepting bribes to influence games.
The ‘Number 12’ documentary released on June 6, 2018 caught professional referees taking bribes in a form of money, foodstuffs and livestock to change outcomes of matches by awarding dubious fouls and penalties.
Speaking to the Times Sports yesterday, former referee Joe Debrah saidRAG has introduced reforms geared at regaining FIFA and CAF’s recognition and trust for Ghanaian referees for major tournaments.
“We are raising new set of referees who we expect to exhibit high standards and regain the confidence of the fans as well as CAF and FIFA. That will mark a return of our referees to international competitions.”
“Development is very key in refereeing.We will organize several training and workshops for the Ghanaian referees to bring them up to speed with the modern trends in the game.”
According to the former referees’ boss, RAG was doing its best to eliminate bad nuts from the fold and instituting policies to aid the growth of referees as they aim at receiving invitations for international tournament.
Mr. Joe Debrah urged the current referees to up their game and make fairness a hallmark in their bid to get international appeal.
“The documentary has damaged our reputation but gradually, we are trying to change the mindsets of CAF and FIFA; we need to prove to them that we have changed and we can only do that by the performance we show on the field.”
According to the experienced retired referee, having only one referee in the person of Daniel Laryea at the 2021 African Cup of Nations(AFCON) in Cameroon should be a disappointment to Ghana’s ‘Knights of the Whistle’; the reason why every member of the fraternity must show signs of improvement.
“We are hoping the next World Cup (2026) and other major tournaments will have space for Ghanaian referees.