Botswana’s most high profile referee Joshua Bondo created a historic moment as he became the country’s first match official to be assigned to oversee a major continental cup final. Bondo made history as the fourth official in the 2022 CAF Confederation Cup final between RSB Berkane and Orlando Pirates last weekend.
The tightly contested game went to extra time after a 0-0 draw in regulation time. In extra time RSB were awarded a penalty which was converted by Youssef El Fahli. Pirates then pushed for an equalizer and they were rewarded as Thembinkosi Lorch levelled matters. The game eventually went to a penalty shootout where RBS prevailed after Pirates’ Lorch missed a penalty.
Bondo was a part of Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe’s refereeing contingent in a game which featured the phenomenon that is the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).Sikwazwe was assisted by Angolan Jerson Emiliano Dos Santos and Mozambican Arsenio Chadreque Maringule with Bondo as the fourth official.
Egyptian Mahmoud Ashor was the main VAR official. Bondo’s personal triumph is yet another example of his perseverance as he rallied through a tough period to return to prominence as a continental referee.
In 2019 Egyptian giants Al Ahly filed an official complaint to world governing body FIFA’s Ethics Committee after their game against Etoile du Sahel. Bondo gave the club’s defender Ayman Ashraf a red card and they later felt that he refused to award them a penalty. Later, Al Ahly’s remarks in a letter forwarded to FIFA showed shades of racism as they felt that “African referees” have a history of giving decisions against him. African, it seems, referred to the referees’ skin tone as Al Ahly is also an African team.
“Al Ahly’s board, led by Mahmoud El-Khatib, have decided to file a complaint to FIFA because of the unacceptable officiating errors made by African referees against us in recent years,” Al Ahly’s said in the infamous statement.
The matter did not escalate past the letter and complaint. In 2021, Bondo was at the center of yet another controversy as he was nearly assaulted by MC Algiers players after the team lost against Wydad Casablanca in the CAF Champions League quarterfinals. MC Algiers players rushed towards Bondo protesting his refereeing performance and feeling hard done by.