BOYCOTT ENDS, REFEREES TO RETURN TO OPL DUTY

By: Ashok Purohit

The crisis surrounding Omani referees boycotting the new season of the Omantel Professional League (OPL) over long-standing payments came to an end on Sunday as the Oman Football Association (OFA) announced that it has worked out an agreement with the protesting match officials.

The OFA-accredited referees and linesmen, who skipped the seven-match opening round of the OPL from Thursday to Saturday over ‘unpaid bonuses’ amounting to nearly RO250,000, will return to duty for the second round from September 18-20.

A solution was worked out during Sunday’s meeting between Sayyid Khalid al Busaidy, the OFA chairman, and a delegation of the protesting referees at the OFA’s headquarters in Seeb.

Sources said the referees have been assured that they will get their overdue payments ‘by the coming weekend’. The boycott had forced the OFA to rope in 16 match officials from UAE to conduct the OPL’s opening round.

Saleh al Farsi, the chief executive of the OFA, told Muscat Daily on Sunday, “We are happy to announce that the issue has been resolved, which proves that the OFA is willing to address the concerns for the good of the game.”

“It also reflects the solidarity within the football family in Oman. We may disagree sometimes, but finally, we are all looking to take Omani football forward.” Later in the evening, the OFA said in a statement, “The OFA chairman appreciates the contribution of referees towards the development of football and hoped for a successful season ahead.”

SOURCE: MUSCAT DAILY