Cold made refs fail, says boss
SOUTH African football's chief of referees has blamed the cold for the failure of top officials in pre-season physical examinations.
Only one of the country's top 10 referees on the elite panel passed the tests on Sunday.
Daniel Bennett, who is headed for Brazil for the 2014 World Cup and has been working out with his physical trainer in recent months, was the only referee who passed.
Adeel Carelse, the SA Football Association's head of referees, said he had pleaded with the Fifa instructors in charge of the fitness tests to postpone them because of the weather.
"It was a terrible morning. The wind-chill factor was extremely high. The wind was blowing at between 40 knots and 45 knots," said Carelse.
The Fifa instructors, Carlos Henriques and Felix Tangwarima, had decided to continue - "and I think it was the wrong call", he said.
Fifa - not Safa - is in charge of testing the referees.
"The fact that most of the linesmen passed their tests because they started two hours later, when the conditions cleared up and the sun began to come out, is proof that the conditions were not right," said an official who was at the examination.
Referees and match commissioners who attended the tests as part of their pre-season preparations criticised the decision to go ahead on Sunday.
The top 10 referees were tested early in the morning, while the other 70 were tested later in the day.
Altogether, 59 of the full complement of 80 referees passed.
The referees' course, which started on Friday, will be completed today and those elite referees who failed will be given a second chance before the season starts.
Normally, a six-week break between tests is standard procedure, but because of the potential crisis at the start of the new PSL season, the referees' committee will call for a new examination this week, according to insiders.
This will be done to avoid the possibility that the opening PSL games next month will be handled by rookies and less experienced referees.
In the past, match officials who failed or missed the tests through illness and injury had to wait six months for the next examination before they could get back on the panel of referees and linesmen.
South Africa's current Fifa referees, Victor Hlungwani, Lwandile Mfiki and Daniel Volgraaf, all failed and Victor Gomes was sick. They are also part of the elite panel.