ISL 2017/18: Foreign referees to officiate matches in final stages of the league
Only two foreign referees have so far officiated matches in this ISL season.
What’s the story?
The ongoing ISL season has been marred by controversial refereeing decisions and most of the Indian match officials have faced severe criticism for the wrong decisions given by them during the course of the games. However, as the league enters the playoffs phase, foreign referees are expected to take over the responsibility of officiating the crucial matches.
AIFF general secretary Kushal Das told Sportskeeda that the All India Football Federation (AIFF) had already planned to appoint foreign referees in the last few games of the tournament. He also said that AIFF wanted to present more chances to the local officials and that's why most of the group stage matches were officiated by Indians.
In case you didn’t know...
Unlike previous ISL editions, where Indian and foreign referees used to share the load of the games, this season has seen only two foreigners - Aurelien Wandji and Matthew Conger officiate a total of five matches amongst themselves. The other fixtures have been distributed among 14 Indian referees, many of whom are also officiating I-League matches.
The heart of the matter...
Das revealed AIFF's plan for the business end of the league. “ISL always had foreign referees right from its inception. This is the only season where we decided to not have so many foreign referees and give our Indian officials a chance. We had also planned to bring in foreign officials for the final stages of the tournament,” Das said.
“It is always not easy to get foreign referees because the availability is also an issue which needs to be addressed. We are talking to various confederations and federations to see if foreign match officials are available or not. We will be bringing foreign referees for the last few games but no names have been finalised as of now,” he added.
Only one round of matches are left before the playoffs and it remains to be seen which foreign officials are finally given the responsibility to handle the last few important games of the tournament.
There’s no doubt about the fact that there’s a difference in class between Indian and foreign referees. That’s the reason why fewer mistakes are found out from matches which are officiated by foreigners. So this is a right decision to appoint more technically sound referees for the most important games of the tournament.