Controversial refereeing continues to mar Pakistan squash events

By: Mohsin Ali      Published: 08:41 PM, 9 Dec, 2020
Controversial refereeing continues to mar Pakistan squash events

Once again highly controversial and pathetic refereeing was witnessed in the $12000 Pakistan International Squash Tournament 2020 and $6000 Women Tournament, which is presently underway at Mushaf Squash Complex.

It was time and again requested to Pakistan Squash Federation to appoint professional referees for the mega-events, but no heed has been ever paid.

A very below par refereeing was witnessed in the $1000 Satellite Tournament in Quetta, where Nasir Iqbal was the major sufferer. Now PSF coaches, Asif Khan and Fazal Shah, who also manage to ensure their presence in the referees’ role as well as they enjoy all-out backing of former director referees Tahir Khanzada, who was sacked after serving the role for several years a few days back.

Tahir Khanzada had never bothered to conduct any referees courses nor he was interested in paying heed towards poor refereeing standards and whenever he was contacted and requested to pay heed towards the sorry state of the refereeing, he promised, but he never delivered.

Asif Khan along with Fazal Shah was conducting quarterfinal match between Nasir Iqbal and Asim Khan and Asif never wasted a single opportunity to give highly dubious calls against both players. To make things worse, Asif allowed Asim to change shoes, which is against the PSA rules.

As Pakistani referees are highly outdated, they don’t know the PSA and the WSF had long made significant changes in the rules. Nasir was so furious with continuous dubious calls and poor decisions, which went against him that he threw his racket on the floor in sheer frustration and Asif wasted no time to award conduct warning.

Interestingly Pakistan Squash Federation Secretary Group Captain Tahir Sultan and Director PNSA Air Commodore (R) Aftab Saddiq Qureshi were also watching the match. It is high time, the PSF must ensure quality, rather than quantity. The world’s major squash events are being conducted by two or three referees but in Pakistan, more than a dozen referees are invited for even low prize money events.

There is an urgent need to not only reduce the number of referees but also provide them basic education as they can’t speak even basic English, which results in huge embracement for the country as international players and even national players never get satisfactory replies from referees.

PSF Secretary promises improved refereeing standards

When this correspondent contacted PSF Secretary Group Captain Tahir Sultan ad draw his attention towards poor refereeing, Tahir admitted flaws and promises to send referees for refresher courses.

He said they had time and again requested IPC Minister to provide funds so that they could send or arrange referees courses to bring Pakistani referees at par to international standards.

“Now Tahir Khanzada has been removed and we will soon appoint a referees director.”

He promised in future no such repeat and promised to appoint highly reputed referees to conduct the matches.

When asked about is it not a conflict of interest to allow national coaches to sit as referees, Tahir replied there was no such rule which bars coaches from conducting refereeing and even players can conduct the matches.

“There are a few shortcomings and we are going to address those areas very soon. PSF Senior Vice President Air Marshal Aamir Maood is taking keen interest and we had completely updated all the squash courts in Mushaf Complex with the help of Serena Hotels, while we hope that IPC Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza will also help federation so we could send referees for courses.”

Minting from players

Meanwhile, Pakistan Sports Board is demanding a hefty amount of money from squash players who arrived from different cities to play in the event. In the past hostel facilities were provided to players, coaches, referees and officials free of cost but now the PSB has turned into a money-minting organisation.

All the facilities have been closed down due to pandemic. It is hoped that the IPC Minister will take action and ensure players, who are the future of the country, continue to enjoy facilities like the past and camps will be conducted soon as South Asian Games are around the corner and Pakistan is the host.