Edition 1453
09 December 2017
Edition: 1453

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Top referees announce boycott

by Brendan de Beer, in Sport · 23-11-2017 15:11:00 · 0 Comments

Referees appointed to officiate professional football matches this weekend have requested a leave of absence from matches scheduled for the First and Second Division respectively in protest against being constantly flung under a cloud of suspicion whenever they make a debatable call.

Top referees announce boycott

Only three of the 76 professional referees currently employed in Portugal have opted not to follow their colleagues in staying away from football matches.
Referees, in justifying the action, are claiming they are in no fit “psychological condition to officiate games.”
This comes after weeks of squabbling between Portugal’s so-called Big Three football clubs, Benfica, FC Porto and Sporting, who have been trading accusations and pointing fingers of blame at referees they claim have been bribed by rival clubs.
The latest incident follows the FC Porto-Portimonense match, after which Benfica accused referee Artur Soares Dias of reviving memories of the Apito Dourado (Golden Whistle) debacle in which FC Porto was alleged to have corrupted match officials.
The game in question, played last Friday, saw Portimonense take the lead in Oporto, only for the referee to send off a Portimonense player and allow seven minutes of time added on while the Algarve club were still winning. Portimonense eventually lost the game 3-2.
Referees, while saying they are happy to face post-match scrutiny, say they refuse to be subjected to persistent allegations that amount to them being involved in match-fixing.
Officials had initially announced action for this coming weekend, but as they had failed to deliver the request with the required advanced notice of 20 days, they have now applied for this leave for the following round of football matches.
Referees have also stressed that contrary to headlines in sports newspapers, their action is not a strike, but merely one requesting time off and in protest against constantly being under a cloud of suspicion.
They added that if clubs showed improved behaviour in the coming weeks, that they could reconsider their plans to stay away.
The match officiating of the country’s professional leagues, which include 18 teams in the Liga and 20 teams in the Segunda Liga, are currently covered by 22 referees, 44 assistants and ten officials undergoing their “apprenticeships”.
Previously this season, referees had announced strike action for the Taça de Liga or League Cup, but were convinced at the last minute to officiate these cup games.
The G15 group of football clubs, which consists of all top flight teams minus the Big Three, have meanwhile said after a meeting this week in Porto that much needs to be done to regain the good faith of referees.
Members such as Sporting de Braga, often referred to as Portugal’s ‘fourth team’, have also accused Benfica, FC Porto and Sporting of instigating Portuguese football’s descent into a state of chaos and have called on referees to only stage a boycott of matches involving these three clubs which they consider to be the main instigators of the current state of affairs.
Referees from district leagues could meanwhile be called into action to preside over games should professional referees stay away.
Even in the absence of credited referees, games are still set to proceed, with delegates or even players from competing sides potentially being asked to arm themselves with a whistle or a flag

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Edition 1453
09 December 2017
Edition: 1453

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

Twitter