Editorial

Hard lessons from that JC brawl

Saturday, December 02, 2017

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The age-old adage that winning or losing doesn't matter, but rather, it's how the game is played, fell out of style a long time ago.

In today's world everyone knows that winning is of primary importance. Not just in professional sport but in amateur competitions, including schools' sport.

Hence the furore when Jamaica College, having thought they had gained a lifeline with what they believed was an equalizing goal against Kingston College with the very last kick of the ISSA/FLOW Super Cup semi-final just under two weeks away, had their joy doused.

As it turned out, the referee had signalled for an indirect free kick based on what he believed to be the nature of the infringement. The attacking player, and it would appear, other players from both teams as well as officials on the sidelines, misread the referee's signal.

So that when the player kicked the ball directly to goal and found the net, there was wholesale jubilation on the part of Jamaica College players, officials and supporters. That joy turned to anger when it was realised that the referee had indicated no goal; that his signal was for an indirect free kick not a direct kick to goal.

From all reports chaos transpired. Match officials were allegedly verbally abused by persons, including Jamaica College team officials. There are even reports that threats were issued.

In the circumstances, it's not surprising that referees would have been troubled and restive. Even if, as at least one Jamaica College official has gone on record as saying, the match referee erred by not awarding a direct free kick, that's no excuse for bad behaviour. In sport, the presiding official in the middle — be he/she referee or umpire — has the final word. That has to remain so until the day comes when rapidly advancing technology makes that official redundant.

Otherwise anarchy results and organised sport becomes impossible. That's the reason the decision by the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) to order Jamaica College to apologise to the referees has been seen by many as too light a penalty.

Indeed, Jamaica Football Federation General Secretary Mr Dalton Wint told this newspaper that while his organisation accepts the ruling by its affiliate ISSA, the penalty is “a little bit light”.

At the time this commentary was being written, there remained uncertainty as to whether offended referees would take the field for the ISSA/FLOW Manning Cup final between Jamaica College and St Andrew Technical High School.

We noted also that there were reports of a late move by the JFF to have those persons alleged to have abused the match officials in the Super Cup semi-final banned from the Jamaica College bench and from the sidelines.

From this distance, this newspaper would humbly suggest that in addition to an apology, this is what ISSA should have ruled in the first place.

This entire unsavoury episode should provide hard lessons for all concerned.

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