In a move described as ‘landmark’ by many, Confederation of African Football (CAF) has today announced that it will take over payment of referees officiating international matches.
Africa’s football governing has thus effectively scrapped the system of host countries and their national associations footing the officiating fees, reducing the possibility of host sides influencing match officials under the guise of paying indemnities.
The move, lauded by many, since it eliminates suspicions between national associations, was one of the reforms pledged by new CAF president Ahmad Ahmad.
The decision reduces the financial burden on national associations and also eliminates an ethical challenge because it removes the suspicion perceived between national associations and the referees.
The decision will take immediate effect after the Executive Committee, On Wednesday, ratified the proposal by CAF’s new leader Ahmad who is seeking to revolutionize the game in Africa.
“Effective 2018, indemnities of referees designated for CAF matches, will be paid directly by CAF,” a CAF statement on the decisions of the Executive Committee read on Wednesday night.
“The decision reduces the financial burden on national associations and also eliminates an ethical challenge because it removes the suspicion perceived between national associations and the referees.”
It is the second time in a month that CAF has taken action to minimise the threat of corruption in refereeing, after it removed the Best Referee in Africa award in December.
CAF president Ahmad said that award was scrapped over fears it could ‘breed corruption.’
Eliminating contact between match officials and host sides before matches has been the main cause of suspicion of match fixing by referees.
Some clubs and countries have also avoided paying match officials as the cost has proven to be overbearing for some of these sides.
This is the latest of the raft of massive changes being brought into force by the new CAF regime targeted at transforming the game on the continent.
The Ahmad-led administration has moved the Africa Cup of Nations from January/February to June/July to avoid the consistent struggle between European clubs and African countries over their release of players for the continent’s flagship football competition.
The decision will relieve African players -majority of who play in Europe – of the difficulty of leaving their clubs at the middle of the season to play at the Cup of Nations.
Also, for the first time, CAF is offering direct cash support in the form of a grant to the five African countries at the World Cup – a move meant to avoid perennial fights between players and their federations over their bonuses.
The cash boost will also give the sides the needed concentration to excel at the global competitions.