Story by Mthokozisi Dube
THE just ended Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) has been applauded for showcasing the highest standards of officiating, with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) coming in handy on a number of close calls.
Apart from the smooth organisation of the expanded 24 team tournament, the just ended AFCON 2023 Tournament has been described as a marvel to watch, with the level of officiating viewed as top notch.
Even Europe and the world have a lot to learn from Africa, that’s according to Manchester United and England legend Garry Neville.
Posting on his social media platforms, Neville said, “The standards of officiating set by this year’s AFCON are honestly staggering. It’s like they invented it. The premier league and all of Europe have a lot of learning to do.”
Former Chelsea, Real Madrid and AS Roma Coach, Jose Mourinho also had words of praise for the level of officiating at AFCON saying, “I have watched AFCON more than European Football. They are simply teaching us to be honest. In AFCON, VAR is used exactly the way it should be used. They do not use it to help the money magnet teams or famous teams”.
Back home, the performance by match officials also caught the attention of former referees who implored the current crop of referees to take a cue.
“In my opinion the match officiating at AFCON in terms of the tournament, if we can compare with the previous tournaments, it was way above the other officiating that we have seen by European referees. Hats off to the match officials who were involved from the initial stages. We saw good decisions taken by officials and the use of VAR. We appreciate the way the games were handled. All in all it was an excellent job particular mention to the referees who handled the third and fourth play-off,” said former referee, Joseph Mususa.
Another former Zimbabwean referee, Felix Tangawarima also said, “We are extremely happy with standard of refereeing which was demonstrated by the referees during the just ended Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire. This was a response to the preparations which were done by to referees prior to the tournament. We took quite some time. We could group the referees periodically and we prepared them technical, physical, mental fitness prior to the tournament.”
The just ended AFCON saw the introduction of VAR at the tournament as part of efforts to promote fair play.