BFA defends referee

> Bakang Mhaladi

GABORONE – The Botswana Football Association (BFA) leaped to top local referee, Joshua ‘Sprinter’ Bondo’s defence after the match official seemingly head-butted and hit a player during an international friendly match between South Africa and Angola on Tuesday.

Bondo, who has made a name for himself as one of Africa’s top referees, was involved in an uncharacteristic altercation after awarding a free kick to South Africa in Tuesday’s scoreless friendly in East London.

Angolan players were incensed with the free-kick decision and confronted Bondo, who appeared to head-butt Palancas Negras player, Paulo Natael, before his stretched hand brushed the player, who collapsed to the ground spectacularly.

The video went viral on social media with the referee now facing certain sanction following nearly 17 years of what has been an impeccable career built virtually from the dusty grounds in the mining town of Selebi-Phikwe, 400km east of the capital, Gaborone.

Bondo was not available for comment, as he was still in Johannesburg late on Wednesday but the BFA has defended the official, arguing that it was an accidental coming together of the player and the referee.

“That is not a head butt. I do not think he did that purposely. It was an honest collision between the player and the referee. I think the incident has been blown out of proportion,” BFA spokesperson, Tumo Mpatane said.

He, however, said they would wait for Bondo to give them his version of the story.

“The leaders would have to sit down with him to get more clarity on the incident. Right now it is too early to say much on the issue. He is a clean referee, he is not that type of person,” Mpatane said.

Bondo’s career rose from humble beginnings when, during his playing days in 1999, he wrestled the whistle from the referee over “dubious” calls.

As his team’s captain, he led a walk-out and from that day, vowed to take up refereeing as a career, as he had seen enough of “sub-standard” officiating.

Bondo dumped his job at a textile firm where he worked as a tailor and begun a new career as a “whistle blower”.

He has been Botswana’s most decorated middle man, handling countless international assignments including the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations finals, the Africa Nations Championships, World Cup qualifiers and all CAF club competitions.

March 2017
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