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Referees in Express-Vipers match banned for up to five years

FOOTBALL | In perhaps the strongest response to abysmal officiation of local league matches, the Federation of Uganda Football Association (Fufa) has handed each of the three match officials in the controversial draw between Express and Vipers bans ranging between six months and five years.

Centre referee Ronald Kiranga and his two assistants Samuel Kakembo and Lydia Wanyama had a horror show in a televised StarTimes Uganda Premier League encounter at Wankulukuku Stadium on Wednesday with various contested decisions.

“Kirangwa is banned from performing refereeing services of all Fufa-rganised and sanctioned competitions for a period of three years,” Fufa said in a statement posted on the FA website on Thursday.

Kakembo, whose atrocious call led to public outcry, is banned from performing refereeing services of all Fufa-rganised and sanctioned competitions for five years, while Wanyama will sit out for two months.

The match between the former champions and a highly spirited Express charges ended 1-1, thanks to a highly controversial goal with ten minutes to go when Vipers’ Tito Okello, in glaring offside position, stabbed home the equaliser.

Second assistant Kakembo, despite being in a clear position to spot the offside, raced to the centre line, signaling a goal, much to the protest of Express FC players, the technical bench and fans, and dismay of millions of viewers.

The match also had several other contested decisions, in particular a half time penalty call to Vipers that Kiringwa awarded despite there being no infringement whatsoever.

The centre refereer also failed to send off any of the players despite the general consensus that at least two Vipers players, including hard tackling midfielder Tadeo Lwanga, should have been given match orders.

Ironically, most of the players did not even get booked.

In Express side, Tony Odur, who converted a halt time penalty to give the Red Eagles the lead, also escaped with just a booking despite several bookable offences as he remonstrated with officials.

The ban

Fufa said the decision to ban the match officials follow the advice of the Referees Disciplinary Panel and the Fufa Referees Standing Committee.

The officials were not summoned for questioning but it is understood reports from match assessor and commissioner were used to arrive at the decision.

Instead, Fufa has the Fufa Committee for Match Integrity will investigate further and possibly slap the officials with further punishment.

Deterrent

The immediate reaction from a section of sports enthusiasts is that Fufa has made a knee-jerk reaction, but those who have been following the rot in match officiation are seeing the decision as a “finally” moment.

Fufa, it appears, has reacted strongly to redeem the image of the sport as allegations of match fixing, especially by the referees, continue to rise.

With the StarTimes Uganda league sponsorship, Fufa is keen to have a good image of the league. After the controversial goal in Wankulukuku, Aldrine Nsubuga, the StarTimes vice president and brands manager, posted on social media contesting the decision.

The controversy at Wankulukuku follows others such as in Jinja last week were Vipers SC appeared too have benefited from decisions in a 2-2 draw with Kirinya JSS.

Also controversy was witnessed when BUL FC played Paidha Black Angels, with the officials ruling out a goal for the Nebbi side with the score at 2-0, claiming the ball had passed in the side netting.

There have been allegations of match fixing involving the officials, especially since the local league was included in sports betting.

Last year, Fufa instituted a probe into allegations of match fixing but the result of the inquiry is yet to be released.

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