Football refs give Gzira FC boss the red card

Claims made by the Gzira United FC president of referees in Malta being incompetent were rebuffed  

The president of the Malta Football Referees Association has rebuffed claims made by the Gzira United FC president, who accused many referees of being incompetent ‘or worse’.

Gzira boss Sharlon Pace has said he believed that referees were making too many mistakes for all of them to be genuine and too many decisions were being taken against his club to be mere coincidence.

But Alexie Tabone told MaltaToday that the association vehemently criticised Pace’s claims, saying the club president had failed to present one shred of evidence.

“His claims were very damaging and cast a shadow of doubt over the good faith and impartiality of referees,” he said. “We condemn the language used by Pace and we are considering whether to take any action.”

Pace insisted he had no proof except for the track record of refereeing decisions.

“If I had proof of collusion or anything else, you can rest assured I will be the first to go to the authorities, and by that, I do not mean the MFA,” he had said.

Pace said he believed that small teams that make it to the top tier of local football against all odds are treated like his team had so far. Only if they manage to weather the storm of unfavourable and questionable decisions are they accepted as “a big team”.

“I do not make these claims lightly, nor I am doing this only for the sake of my club, although that has to be my focus,” Pace had told MaltaToday. 

“My interest is making sure that this game I love so much is a fair and playing on a level playing field by all involved.”

He also said it was big pity that there were no longer any TV programmes that aired at the end of the weekend and which used to analyse and dissect any and all questionable refereeing decisions, as they did with players’ behaviour on the pitch.

Tabone had a more urgent worry.

“I hope that this scare-mongering by the Gzira president does not lead to any violence,” he said. 

“God forbid if any of the club’s players, officials or supporters – as has happened in the past – lift a finger against a referee, be it in the FA Youth or the Premier,”

If that happened, Tabone vowed the association would take immediate drastic action against the guilty parties.