Referee Khuon Virak sees the red mist once again. Photo nicksellsphotographyWhat has happened to referee Khuon Virak? In the first half of the C-League season, he was the man in the middle for 6 matches and didn't feel the need to produce a red card once. He booked 17 players in those six games but not one red card. Then we begin the second half of the season and the guy has gone red card crazy. In just two matches he's produced 6, yes six, red cards and another 15 yellow cards. In the BBU v Kirivong game last weekend he sent off 3 playes and then yesterday, he dismissed Prek Pra's Put Sotheara and Philip Ali and Wat Phnom's Peter Ejike. Sotheara's first booking was for stooping too low to head the ball in the referee's opinion - a ridiculous decision. Peter Ejike's red card was for a earlier tackle and then what the referee saw as a dive, but what I saw as evening up the numbers. And then Virak really incurred the wrath of the Prek Pra coach Yep Phirum, as well as the vociferous Prek Pra fans in the stand, by taking the advice of his linesman and booking Philip Ali for the second time, for an off-the-ball incident in the last few seconds of the game, resulting in a third red card of the match. Ali just happens to be the fans' favourite and had scored the equalizer nine minutes from time, so his red card was the last straw for the fans who vented their anger long and loudly after the final whistle.
The second half of the season has seen a dramatic increase in red cards. In the whole of the first half, we saw 9 red cards in total. In the first eight games of the second half of the campaign, we've seen 8 red cards already, with Khuon Virak responsible for six of them. There's definitely evidence that some of the referees in particular are cautioning way too many players and creating a situation where they feel they have no choice but to send off players for a second offense. Khuon Virak and his fellow referees, Thong Chankethya and Yien Kivatanak are the ones most likely to whip out a red card or two in matches, simply because they book too many players. Chankethya has also sent off 2 players in the two matches he's officiated in since the mid-season break. Of course the players have to take some of the responsibility here but I watch most of the C-League matches and I disagree with up to half of the bookings I witness. These dismissals are affecting the outcome of games and should be looked at as a priority by the football federation.