Damon – the most respected match official from South Africa in recent times before he retired in June last year – was on stand-by for the 2006 World Cup, refereed at the 2010 World Cup and officiated at four Africa Cup of Nations tournaments.
Now in the midst of a rejuvenated debate about whether showboating should be celebrated in South African football, the two-time PSL Referee of the Season has taken to his official Facebook account to explain his interpretation of FIFA’s laws, which he says actually prohibit showboating as unsporting behaviour.
“Showboating. Does it have a place in the football? The short answer is no! Any action that seeks to humiliate or bring the game of football into disrepute is unsporting behaviour and therefore a cautionable offence. (See FIFA Laws of the Game),” Damon wrote.
“Recently in a CAF Confederation Cup match, many South African supporters were up in arms when a visiting Tunisian team [CS Sfaxien] took exception to an Orlando Pirates player [Thabo Rakhale] showboating.
“But what is allowed?” he continued, before answering: “When that skill (or entertainment) is done to pass a player or ‘skill’ a player in making an attacking or defensive pass.
“By all means juggle the ball and flip it over the advancing opponent’s head. No referee will penalise that, however, when you stand on one place and start tapping the ball all to yourself and start ‘showboating’ (I call it showing off), all you are doing is bringing attention to yourself and not using it as an attacking or defensive play.
“When you stand and twirl on the ball without advancing it past an attacker or defender (in other words the move is not used to evade an opponent), then it is showboating and that action is unsporting in terms of [FIFA] law.
READ: Jomo Sono backs Zongo
“So can you stand and twirl on the ball? Yes, but as long as it is used to immediately evade an advancing opponent, in all other instances it is unsporting behaviour. Now we can debate as much as we want to, but unless the [FIFA] law is amended, that is how it is applied.”
Another respected former PSL match official, Errol Sweeney – known as ‘The Hanging Judge’ for his no-nonsense approach to refereeing – praised Damon for bringing the FIFA rules to light.
“I remember booking a player (I think it was Ace Khuse of Chiefs) at FNB for sitting on the ball during a game,” Sweeney commented.
FIFA’s Laws of the Game under the heading ‘Cautions for unsporting behaviour’ states that “a player must be cautioned if he/she acts in a manner which shows a lack of respect for the game”.