ZIFA Referees Chairman Brighton Malandule says Grace Gimo deserved to handle the Independence Trophy final between Dynamos and Highlanders at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
Gimo is the first female referee to handle a match between Dynamos and Highlanders and is one of only three female referees to pass the match officials’ tests in the country.
Television footage showed Gimo coming under attack from some Highlanders players after the game.
Malandule said he was satisfied with Gimo’s performance.
“To mark our 41st independence anniversary, we saw it fit to appoint one of our star performing referees who’s the most promising female referee to officiate the grand stage.
“There are mixed reactions on her performance, but I must highlight that at FIFA there are no male or female referees, they are both referred to as match officials. Grace is among three female referees who are fit to run throughout the match, they passed match fitness tests in October last year.
“Grace officiated successfully at the Cosafa games in South Africa last year, so she is a very promising athlete and she’s doing well, in return as a committee we saw it appropriate to let her officiate the Uhuru Cup marking our independence.
“We support female officials, we don’t discriminate officials because of gender, they are assessed based on their performance only, not their gender.
It was so disappointing to learn that there was abuse that was directed at her, such behaviour should not be tolerated.
“I’m yet to look at the match commissioners’ report if indeed there were incidents that warrant action to be taken against the team or parties. We will not tolerate abuse towards match officials. Referee’s decision is final whether it seems wrong, we appeal to spectators and players to raise their complaints in the right way.
“As the committee, we are very proud of Gimo’s performance. We stand by our decision to appoint Gimo because it was on merit and she convinced us that she can handle such high-profile matches and we will keep on supporting the girl child,” said Malandule.