MASERU — The Lesotho Referees Association’s public relations officer, Rethusitsoe Lebaka, says he is confident the new Vodacom Premier League season will see no problems for match officials.
Lebaka spoke to the Lesotho Times on Monday during a refresher course for match officials held at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena ahead of the 2010/11 season.
The issue of security for referees was highlighted again last week when Lesotho’s top referee, Paul Phomane, suddenly retired from the game saying he felt unsafe after being attacked on two separate occasions last season.
All of Lesotho’s club grounds don’t have proper security barriers and although teams are required to have eight marshals at premiership matches they are usually unprepared, leaving match officials at the mercy of hooligans.
Lebaka however said he was lifted by talks with Premier League chairman Tlholo Letete aimed at improving security for referees.
“We have been promised (security). We talked about it a lot with the Premier League and with Letete that, really, according to how things were last season there has to be a change,” Lebaka said.
However there have been empty promises before.
Last season match officials were promised better security after they were attacked during a league match between Majantja and Linare in Mohale’s Hoek.
Before that there were serious incidents in Teyateyaneng, Roma and at LCS’s Central Prison where match officials were attacked.
“We are positive that they (the improvements) will happen,” Lebaka said.
Despite his optimism Lebaka regretted Phomane’s unexpected retirement.
“We have a little number of senior central referees already and many of them will have to retire very soon because of their age,” Lebaka said.
He said for that reason the referees’ association would try to persuade Phomane to change his mind.
Regarded as the country’s top referee, Phomane took charge of numerous local cup finals and will remain on Fifa’s referees list until December.
But last week he said his family had been traumatised after he was attacked by Lioli supporters following their side’s 3-1 loss to LMPS in Teyateyaneng on March 14.