Costly decision for Ledgister?

A brief moment of indecision and maybe cowardice might have cost young FIFA referee Valdin Ledgister more than just money from his pocket but advancement as a football official.

In time added on at the end of a recent Red Stripe Premier League game between Harbour View and Waterhouse, Ledgister ruled for a penalty kick to Harbour View the home team.

As was to be expected the Waterhouse team protested and after consulting with his assistants, twice, Legister first confirmed his call then turned it around and awarded a corner.

While we are yet to hear what actions, if any, have been taken against Harbour View after the management called off their players before the referee signaled the end of the game, the hammer has fallen heavily on Legister.

The Westmoreland teacher has been taken off front line duties for three weeks and his appointment to the CONCACAF Olympic Men's Qualifying Final Round has been cancelled.

Additionally, he has to undergo retraining in game management and will be on three months probation upon his return to active duties.

Officiating in football or cricket can be a profitable 'side job' for those brave enough to take on the assignments. FIFA referees and Test umpires fly first class and stay in five star hotels when given assignments and the financial rewards are often well above the' pay grades' of those involved.

Legister's recent foul up is only the latest unfortunate incident involving him, as last year during the CONCACF Under 17 World Cup Qualifying Finals in Montego Bay, his handling of a game late in the series was also questioned.

Referees have always been under serious scrutiny and especially nowadays when many of the games- at least in the Premier League and schoolboys football game- are recorded or shown live on television.

Patrick McPherson's massive blunder in the 2010 ISSA daCosta Cup final where he allowed a ball handled by Rusea's High's Anthony Walker to stand, ignited a firestorm of criticism that still dogs him to this day.

McPherson and his entire crew served only what turned out to be a three- week suspension, the same time a St Catherine based crew that did the all-island Under 14 final between Jamaica College and Cornwall College served, after a similar incident resulted in the Kingston school winning the title.

Not so long ago Howard Stennett, one of the more controversial referees we have had in some years had his career cut short after he allegedly struck a fan who had gone on to the field at a game in Westmoreland.

Certainly, the job of a referee is not easy, especially when the game moves so fast and decisions are made in split seconds.

Referees, especially those who attain FIFA level are however highly trained and expected to have a certain level of education and thus expected to be able to make the decisions and stick by them.

While poor refereeing is not unique to Jamaica, we see mistakes made in England, Spain, Italy and Holland every weekend on our televisions.

We certainly expect more from our referees and I would dare say the football powers that be cannot be satisfied with the level of officiating that exist.

Too often we see referees trying to impose themselves on the game, as if trying to upstage the players, who we really go to games to see.

Hopefully young Legister will get this chance to learn from this latest incident and the other referees can also learn from his mishap and get back to basics.

Paul Reid

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