Doubts over CAF’s Elite A referees list

The release of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Refereeing Commission’s final list of 23 referees who will officiate at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) has raised questions about the relevance of the continental body’s Elite A ranking. The list is dominated by referees from West and North Africa while those from Southern, Central and East Africa have the lowest representation.

In total, CAF has selected 10 referees from West Africa, six from North Africa, five from Southern Africa and one each from East and Central Africa.

CAF uses the Elite A list to measure referees’ performances around the continent. With 29 referees, the list is widely regarded as CAF’s main guide for selecting referees for major tournaments.
However, doubts started emerging on the relevance of the list when Daniel Bennett and Joshua Bondo, the highest ranked Southern African referees on the Elite A list, were not selected for the Equatorial Guinea based competition. Bondo, who is seventh on CAF’s Elite A referees list, has been omitted from the list of officials for the competition’s final 23 matches. This is despite the fact that Bondo had a stellar year officiating in the continent’s biggest matches. He officiated four high profile 2015 AFCON Qualifiers last year, including South Africa’s 0-0 draw against Nigeria and Cameroon’s 1-0 win over Democratic Republic of Congo. After receiving rave reviews and plaudits from CAF Referees Commission President Magdi Shams El Din, he was widely tipped to become the first ever Motswana referee to grace an AFCON tournament. But all is not lost as another Motswana, Oamogetse Godisamang, has been selected among the 21 match assistants who will officiate at the tournament. Godisamang will be the first ever Motswana to officiate in a tournament of AFCON’s magnitude. He has been attending CAF Elite B courses since last year and his progress attracted the attention of the competition’s selection committee.