Referees threatening to down tools on the eve of league season
With most leagues earmarked to resume next weekend, word is out that referees are thinking of downing tools in protest. This is not the first time that referees have threatened to strike if some of their demands are not met.
First on the demand list is an increase on the referees’ fees. Currently referees get P300 per game, with the assistant referring getting P50 less. The referees are apparently demanding P600/game.
“We have had meetings with our elders for a very long time and we have a lot of outstanding issues,” said one of the referees who preferred to remain anonymous.
He said they were “aware that in the Premier League, which is the main client, we were not part of the deal when the sponsorship was negotiated. We have had this discussed numerous times. Our mileage is measured as in the government sector although this is more like a private sector. The money is also released late.”
For fear of victimisation some referees apparently don’t even want to voice their concerns because they are either in the Police service or the Botswana Defence Force. Sources close to them say the football leaders take advantage of this situation and abuse that relationship.
Last year some referees downed tools demanding for the same reasons as this season. Before the start of each season there is an issue of how much exactly should referees be paid.
Referees are also complaining that they are not treated equally. While there was a sponsorship for their kits and boots they say the equipment has not been distributed. Some in the north of the country claim that the southern-based referees have benefited as opposed to them.
Contacted for comment, referees Commission Chairperson, Alocious Sesikwe pointed out that they were in dialogue with the leaders of football. At press time on Wednesday they were still talking with Botswana Football Association to organise travel and accommodation to their referees outside Gaborone to come for the convention planned for Saturday.
Sesikwe told Voice Sport that there were a number of issues that have been on the table for a while now.
“The money issue and security in general are old issues and we have taken these to the relevant authorities. We are engaging the BFA and premier league but there are lot of leagues, so we need to attend to all of them. We have to have happy referees to have a better product that is why we will talk about welfare. Even mileage I am aware of all those so I will talk to the league about that and as you are aware this is a dialogue,” he said.
Regarding the weekend gathering, Sesikwe said they have been told to wait for budgets “to confirm whether our weekend meeting will go on.”