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Benin: A new wind blows over refereeing – At a glance

The Benin Football Federation has set about revitalizing all aspects of refereeing in Benin. The reforms range from the overhaul of the refereeing commission and the rejuvenation of the judges, to the training and assessment of referees.

The Benin Football Federation’s refereeing committee has always been criticized for its composition. Several club officials from the various leagues are members of this commission. This has often had an impact on certain decisions in some of Benin’s championship matches. Francis Koto Gbian, previously president of the body since October 2018, is president of Damissa FC, a club in the professional league.

More club officials on the referees’ committee

Faced with pressure from the sporting public and, above all, FIFA, Mathurin de Chacus, President of the Benin Football Association, appointed nine new members to the referees’ committee in a memo dated February 20. Gilles Toupé has taken over as head of the group. “Today, the demands of the sporting world require that the presidency of this commission (of referees) not be headed by a club official, and the Executive Committee has listened to this cry. The new chairman was my vice-chairman before he was removed. I think he’s the right person for the job. The older members of the team are in the process of leaving so that the younger ones can take over, as FIFA is quite clear on this point,” stressed the now ex-president.

Allassane, a member of one of Benin’s elite clubs, is delighted with the change. “In the championship, we’re seeing a lot of favoritism. There are matches where you wonder about the referees’ biased decisions. So this change is good news. Among fans, the reform was eagerly awaited, says Florent Gohoungo, in Cotonou. “There’s so much controversy, and we don’t approve of the fact that the chairman of the commission is also a club manager. The federation has done a great job of cleaning up this office. Taupé’s commission has a huge task, that of restoring the reputation of the refereeing profession.”

 

“Correct the system…so that confidence can be reborn”.

The new head of Benin’s referees’ commission will have no time to rest, as the task ahead is immense.A plan to reorganize the refereeing body has already been drawn up.“I’ve met up again with people I’d left behind.The work done by President Gbian is remarkable.We’re going to continue it, while correcting certain things to put an end to criticism in the championship”, declared Gilles Toupé.

The former Benin international referee and the other members of the referees’ commission are expected to address a number of issues. “The most urgent issue at the moment is referee payments. Correct the system so that referees can travel on time, rest and play their matches, then pay them their perdiem. That’s what we’re going to review, otherwise they’ll be exposed to acts of corruption. Confidence needs to be rebuilt.”

Rejuvenation and training of referees

The plan to revive refereeing in Benin includes the rejuvenation and training of the men in black. In Benin, the Office Béninois du Sport Scolaire et Universitaires (OBSSU) organizes an annual training course for budding referees as part of a program called Jeunes officiels. This year, training will take place throughout Benin from April 1 to 6, 2024. The program has produced a number of male and female referees already officiating in amateur championships. In addition, the federation regularly organizes physical tests to pass the grade. This policy aims to revitalize the refereeing corps.“It’s also up to us to renew the basic workforce so that we can have many more young people,” explained the new president.

Added to these reforms is the presence of Benin referees at CAF competitions and governing bodies.Louis Houngnandandé and Ulrich Ayimanvo officiated at the AFCON Côte d’Ivoire 2023. What’s more, the CAF Referees Committee is chaired by Beninese Huges Alain Adjovi. All these elements have a positive impact on the revitalization of refereeing in Benin.

 


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