By Sikhumbuzo Moyo
Zimbabwean referee Norman Matemera continues officiating in international matches despite failing a fitness test held at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) in Bulawayo on November 7.
A referee cannot officiate in any game after failing a fitness test and can only be re-tested after six weeks.
The Harare-based policeman failed the fitness test on November 7 and he was only eligible for a re-test this Saturday.
Surprisingly Matemera was assigned a Group J Caf Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between hosts Equatorial Guinea and Libya at the Estadio de Bata in Bata eight days after failing the rigorous test.
He was, however, reportedly sent home from the just-ended Cosafa Qualifiers for the Total Under-20 Afcon in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa, without handling any match after failing another fitness test.
Matemera was replaced by a Rusape-based female official. Despite failing the fitness test in South Africa, Matemera was on the plane again for a Caf inter-club tie in Zambia on the first weekend of this month.
“From what we gather, there is collusion of corrupt minds between one member of the Zimbabwe Referees Committee and someone on the referees’ desk at Caf. When the report showed that Matemera had failed (fitness test), there was an inquiry into how that happened; whether it was due to injury or fatigue, but he said it wasn’t injury.
However, it really doesn’t matter what causes you to fail (fitness test); the bottom line is that the referee would have failed and the same template used for all other referees must be applied,” said a former referee with knowledge on the issue.
Zifa communications and competitions manager Xolisani Gwesela said Matemera had successfully undergone a re-test on November 27 under the supervision of their national fitness trainer Makonese Masakadza “in consultation with Fifa”.
Gwesela could, however, not explain why Matemera was allowed to handle an Afcon qualifier in Equatorial Guinea on November 15 yet he only went for a re-test on November 27.
A former member of the Zimbabwe Referees Committee said there is no provision for a referee to be re-tested before the six weeks lapse. “Looking back, it shows that he (Matemera) has failed most of the (fitness) tests he took together with other referees and only seems to pass when he goes for ‘re-tests’ alone or when the field has very few participants.
He has fainted in Egypt, Bulawayo and Harare on different occasions,” said the former official.
“I’m told in his latest failed test, he presented himself at the venue in Harare but disappeared after warm-up. He was then pressed to run at a rescheduled test in Bulawayo which he also failed,” he said.
Matemera is not the first Fifa panel referee to find the going tough in fitness tests.
Last year, Bulawayo-based referee Philani Ncube failed a fitness test and was immediately dropped from handling any game for the mandatory six weeks.
Zimbabwe Referees Committee chairman Bryton Malandule said Matemera’s re-test was handled by Caf and there was nothing they could do.
“It’s true that re-tests are after six weeks. How Caf decided to have a special arrangement for him I cannot say, but it was the Caf Referees Committee vice-chairman who said he must do a re-test earlier.
“For the Equatorial Guinea game it was a risk for everyone as there also was little time to make any changes,” Malandule said. The Chronicle