REFEREES are used to making difficult calls. But this has to be the toughest one so far: Cebu’s group of referees want out of the Cebu Football Association (CFA).
A CFA insider told me about the news yesterday late afternoon, a day after the referees held a meeting on the matter.
The first tournament to be affected by the referees’ pullout threat is the Aboitiz Cup, which has prompted the CFA to acquire the services of referees from outside Cebu, such as San Carlos City, for the duration of the 11-a-side tournament that kicks off this weekend.
So what’s the deal with the breakaway?
Apparently, the referees feel they don’t have much freedom under the CFA, as it does not allow them to officiate tournaments not sanctioned by the organization.
Two weeks ago, during a futsal tournament, one of those who helped the organizers described the sanctions as “mora silag gihiktan” (similar to being tied up).
By breaking away, the referees believe they will have more room to participate in more tournaments, which translates to more needed income on their part. They also reportedly plan to form an independent organization registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
With the existing structure, the referees, along with the coaches and clubs, are under the CFA umbrella. So, the number of times the refs can officiate is dependent on how many tournaments the CFA organizes.
Some organizers, however, refuse to get sanctioned under the CFA, which charges from P1,500 to P4,500 sanctioning fee per tournament, depending on the number of teams.
Without the sanction, a referee under the CFA is prohibited from officiating the games. This is standard policy among legit football associations under FIFA, the world’s governing body.
But is it really necessary for an FA to stop referees from officiating non-sanctioned tournaments?
The CFA insider explained that if they allow this practice, an organizer would no longer see the need for sanctions, which are deemed necessary particularly in instilling legitimacy, order and discipline within a big organization.
“Why would organizers opt to get sanctioned with the CFA when they can get referees without paying the sanctioning fee?” he said.
Apart from their demand for fewer restrictions, the referees reportedly also feel that with its falling out with the Philippine Football Federation (PFF), the “weakened” CFA can no longer offer the referees skills training and other official programs.
It also appears that the referees’ group has joined the camp that has been at odds with the CFA for the past year. This camp reportedly has established ties with PFF president Mari Martinez, who has waged war with a number of FAs all over the country, including the CFA.
The CFA is not blameless in numerous problems it has found itself in. In this latest headache, whether the CFA has fully spelled out to the referees the repercussions of their actions is one thing. Having paid real attention to their concerns is another.
The CFA insider, though, believes that the move is “political and personal.”
But is the decision of the referees to sever ties with the CFA a sound decision or a bad call?
The referees believe they can bypass CFA authority with the approval of the PFF through Martinez.
The PFF president, however, now faces the real possibility of getting removed from office. If that happens, what becomes of the referees’ “new organization” that does not adhere to the structure adopted among legitimate football associations in the country?
The referees are taking a huge gamble with this move. It also comes at a time when Philippine football is in a serious crisis of leadership.
A head of a football club in Cebu had this to say: “The referees’ actions are divisive. It does nothing to unite an already divided football community.”
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