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Fiji football referee suspended

Opinions / Analysis

FIJI football referee Deepak Raj’s suspension from the Fiji FACT comes down to habit.

Raj awarded Suva a controversial penalty against Tailevu Naitasiri, on Friday that saw Sahil Dave score for the win.

The beleaguered referee was embroiled in the 2020 Fiji FACT controversy between Nadi and Suva grand finale at Labasa’s Subrail Park.

He made questionable calls in the final that had irked the sports fervent, and among the president of Nadi football at the time, Ashwant Singh.

Singh ran the incompetence by FFA, who played it by the ear.

In a strange turn of events Raj complained to the governance that Singh had hurled profanity and in a ruling Singh was subsequently suspended.

Singh said Raj has had a string of complaints made against and he was called out by the teams in the media, but no action was deemed necessary.

“Raj always had a bone to pick with Nadi and other districts.”

And it was Tailevu Naitasiri that was on the short end of the stick during the 2022 Fiji FACT.


Raj found it hard to break away from bad habits, as he was always far from being clear as a whistle on stipulating the laws of the game.

Pierluigi Collina, regarded as the best football referee of all time, writes in his biography ‘My Rules ‘, when bad habits are made it is hard to break, and that replacing a first learned habit with a new one does not erase the original behaviour.’

By Collina’s analysis Raj had formed what was a bad habit that he could not replace.

Collina writes a good referee is highly observant to ensure that they do not miss anything when the match is ongoing.

“Good refs are discouraged from allowing emotions to dictate their decisions. Plus, they are authoritative without necessarily being egoistic or aggressive towards players and or play.”

“A bad referee is unqualified enough to oversee a match or if the referee understands the rules of the game and intentionally ignores them.

“Their actions dictate the outcome of the game according to where their preferences and interests lie.”

Bad Image

During the match, Raj's action embarrassed him and tainted the image of the referee’s core before the OFC tactical team present at the games.

“There was absolutely no contact made, and or malice intent in the play,” said county’s top sports commentator Raymond Stoddart, who received a huge approval from Fiji FA Technical Director Timo Jankoski, who was on set as a colour commentator.

It was clear that Raj had arbitrarily done Suva a favour and that he influenced a match result.


Raj would have walked ‘scott free’ had he been dealt by the FFA, much like the cold case of Rakesh Varman, the referee’s director allegedly caught on video dumping trash on a pristine beach in Nadroga.

Nothing came out of the internal investigation that the governance had harped about days after the footage went viral on social and mainstream media.

OFC eyes

And had not the game befallen the ‘eagle eyes’ of Oceania Football Confederation specialists, who were present in the audience, and a protest lodged by Tailevu/ Naitasiri, the FFA would have most likely held the referee’s decision as being final, case closed.

But with the OFC cohort, the governance was duty bound to pull Raj out the referee’s penal and suspend him, all done to restore faith over the failure of the establishment.


Tailevu Naitasiri coach Priyant Manu voiced his outrage at Raj, saying he was the reason his team lost the Suva game.

But fearing reprisal, he was reluctant to talk about the game.

“If I say anything I will be taken to task.”

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