- Confession. Fufa Referees Standing Committee vice chairman Ali Waiswa disclosed that some decisions taken by referees in matches are visibly intended and deliberately wrong.
I can guarantee you that like most Ugandan adults, local referees bet on European football games. To then expect them to somehow be overcome by saintly guilt when it comes to local games is naïve.
Remember, local games are ones which in the matter of influencing the result, they have more power than hope. So, yes of course, referees do bet on local games.
It was therefore with a sigh, that I heard about an interview on NTV Press Box in which a one Ali Waiswa said; “Sometimes the decisions taken by referees are deliberately wrong”. As confessions go, that is scary especially coming from a man no less than the vice chairman of the Fufa Referees Standing Committee. But I don’t see that it is enlightening.
We may shift uneasily in our seats, but a casual examination of referee incomes, group them among those Ugandans scraping for dregs at the bottom of the economic pile. And without going into detail, debates about survival are a daily occurrence for them and many Ugandans. The search for extra means to exist becomes an instinct.
However, just as we must adapt to serve our survival instincts as humans, we cannot always profess to manage our instincts for greed. And if it is hard to draw a line between which bets to engage in and which ones to skirt, it is even harder to draw a line between what is enough for shelter food or clothing, and how many houses cars or wives will satiate the hunger our appetites eventually acquire.
So, what starts as a small punt one hopes will cover the school fees debt from last term can quickly morph into an attempt to get into that Probox that would save you from the rain and the bone-shattering ride by Boda-boda up the pot-holed road to Wankulukuku.
It goes on like that, like that.
Trail of fixing
By now it is no longer betting but match fixing as the latter guarantees results more than the former. Then it ceases to be about an individual referee’s betting problem and becomes the collective crime of a match fixing syndicate.
I am on record for saying no one is insulated from the promises of minimal investment and easy riches, and that we ought to get off our high horses and level with all those afflicted with the addiction of betting. But on the matter of referees and for the sake of the games survival, I shall give no allowances.
Remember these aren’t hordes of young people standing outside the neighbourhood betting shop waiting to second guess a computer.
These are custodians of the games integrity getting trapped in the headlights of match-fixing syndicates.
Football would be foolish to leave unabated anything or anyone that threatens its ability to mirror the randomness of nature, for that is its major appeal.
For that matter, I recommend that any referees caught engaged in betting, of whatever nature, be dismissed summarily.
It might sound self-righteous but, in my opinion, it is an easier task to manage than an individual’s appetite for sleaze.