- BFA, sports ministry refute “wild rumours” of no diplomatic passport
- Authorities beef up Bondo’s outstanding status as a world-class referee
- Only six African referees have been invited to officiate at the World Cup 2022
Contrary to what obtains on the grapevine, it is irrelevant whether Botswana’s most celebrated and FIFA Licensed Referee Joshua Bondo has a diplomatic passport or not because the fact is that Bondo was not invited to officiate at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Gazette Sports has established.
This came after the world football governing body FIFA released a list of top African referees who were called up to officiate at the world’s biggest football showpiece in Qatar with Bondo being a notable absentee from which Bondo was conspicuous by his absence.
Somehow this fed the rumour mill with suggestions that Bondo was not on the list because the top referee could not honour the invitation for the reason that the Government of Botswana had failed to provide him with a diplomatic passport, which is a pre-requisite for top world referees if to officiate in the World Cup.
Speaking in an interview, the CEO of Botswana Football Association (BFA), Mfolo Mfolo, said Bondo went through the selection process in 2019 but was not selected by FIFA. “What we know is that Bondo was not called to officiate at the World Cup by FIFA and that it is not unusual for some referees to be invited and it does not mean that they are not good enough,” Mfolo said.
“Bondo is an outstanding FIFA referee and has officiated at continental and world events before. He was just unfortunate this time around. The BFA is disturbed by these wild rumours that he was denied a diplomatic passport hence his exclusion from the list of referees for Qatar when there is no reason for anyone to sabotage him.”
Mfolo’s clarification corroborates a statement released by the Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sports and Culture last week that also refuted the allegations. “The ministry would like to distance the government from Bondo’s exclusion from the list of referees lined up for the World Cup,” said the statement.
“We are not aware of the rumours that Bondo was not selected as one of the referees to officiate at the World Cup and we are of the view that local sports governing bodies such as the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) and BFA would know better if there is truth in those allegations.
“We hold Bondo in high regard for his notable achievements in the field of refereeing, both locally and internationally, and will always be readily available to do anything … to contribute to his trajectory in the field of referring within prevailing statutes and budget.”
Only six African referees have been invited to officiate at the World Cup 2022. They are Gassama Bakary of the Gambia, Salima Mukansanga of Rwanda, Ghorbal Mustapha of Algeria, Victor Gomes of South Africa, Maguette Ndiaye of Senegal and Janny Sikazwe of Zambia.
Bondo has officiated at high profile competitions such as the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup finals.