Due to a lack of funds, the National Football League of Congo-Brazzaville is unable to move referees. The latter are obliged to officiate only for matches taking place in the localities where they live. To the advantage of the host clubs?
"Satisfactory" results. This is the feeling of the Congolese Football Federation (FECOFOOT) which closed its ordinary general assembly. It was indeed held from 21 to 22 May in Pointe-Noire.
But as far as the current season is concerned, refereeing has been the big black spot. Because, the matches of the national football championship of League 1 are officiated by referees who live in the same locality as the host team.
"Imagine a club from Pointe-Noire hosting a team from Brazzaville. For lack of means to move referees from another locality like Dolisie, we do with referees who live in Pointe-Noire," laments a player from Racing Club de Brazza (RCB).
This in reality calls into question the impartiality or neutrality of these referees. And observers know what they are talking about. "During the 17th day, for example, As Otoho of Oyo (north of the country) hosted As Cheminots of Pointe-Noire. Although the home side beat the visitors 4-0, a goal should not be validated because the striker was largely offside," said a journalist.
"We are aware of the evolution of the rules".
"Indeed, we are aware of this refereeing problem. But faced with financial difficulties, we are obliged to submit to this reality," acknowledges Charles Otendet, president of the National Football League (LINAFOOT).
Former Congolese players believe that there is now a lot of confusion in refereeing compared to their time. "Refereeing is no longer the same as in our time (in the 1980s and 1990s). If the referees were biased (editor's note: Kotoko de Mfoa, a former Brazzaville club that has now disappeared), we would not have been champions in 1983. Because we were up against some big names: CARA, Diables Noirs and Etoile du Congo. The referees, despite the stakes, tried to be neutral. But that's no longer the case today," recalls Célestin Mouyabi, known as Chaleur, a former international. He is now a member of the LINAFOOT homologation committee.
However, it is above all a question of mastering the rules of football. This is at least the opinion of the president of LINAFOOT: "It is true that mistakes exist. But it happens that we wrongly accuse our referees. And we can't use VAR like in Europe. There is a real need to always be aware of the evolution of the rules at international level. If the referee applies the law, we start to cry conspiracy. But sometimes the person who criticizes refereeing does not even know a single law of football.''