FIFA and CAF referees instructor and assessor, Alex Kotey reckon Charles Bulu is not at risk of losing out on officiating matches at the top level after collapsing in an AFCON 2021 qualifier.
“I don’t think so,” Kotey, who is also the Referees Manager of the Ghana Football Association(GFA), opined when asked if Bulu’s future of handling high profile matches for the world’s football governing body is in doubt.
The Ghanaian referee appears to have felt dizzy with ten minutes to the end of proceedings of a matchday six AFCON qualifier involving Ivory Coast and Ethiopia and needed medical attention.
He was subsequently hospitalised for three days, and many fear the country might lose one of its topmost referees in subsequent FIFA and CAF assignments.
“What FIFA and CAF requested is his medicals to be sent to them. We have his medicals and everything here and I believe that even at the hospital [he was treated after the collapse], the doctors will also put together a medical report about him, and so I don’t think that he is at risk of officiating at the top level at all,” he continued.
Historically, such incidents seem to be minimal in the game of football raising concerns over the fitness of Bulu, but Kotey disagrees with the assertion that he might have been unfit to see off a 90-minute game.
“Charles doesn’t have problems when you talk about fitness. He is always fit because he’s working out now and then, he is always training, so for me, fitness was not the issue,” he stated.
If fitness was the issue, what was it, then?
“We can only speculate because I was not there with them, but per my conversation with them, they took breakfast around 9:00 AM and left for the match venue at 9:30 AM.
“This was a match scheduled for 1 PM, under this very hot weather. So, they got to the venue around 11 AM. This was a match you were playing under that hot weather with just breakfast.
“What they could have done in their planning was to wrap some lunch or some breakfast again, or even fruits and take in more liquids to replenish the energy, so I think basically, it had to do with dehydration,” he noted before adding that, it is always important to “train at the time the match is scheduled so that you can prepare yourself against these weather threats; with that, you can adjust and acclimatise to the weather conditions,” he said.
Prior to the start of the 2020/2021 Ghana football season, referees were taken through rigorous training to ensure they are fit for games.
Mr Kotey insists despite all the preparations, the collapse Bulu suffered is not alien to sportsmen, but his outfit will work to avoid any Ghanaian referee suffers a similar fate when officiating a match.
“These are things that happen in association sports and football is not an exception that’s why there is more emphasis on medicals.
“Before the commencement of the league, we took all our referees through medical examinations and we will intensify our training and medicals because we don’t want to have our referees go through that again,” he assured.
Charles Bulu returned to Ghana last week Thursday after being hospitalised for three days in Ivory Coast. It is unclear if the GFA will assign him to handle matches anytime soon in the premier league.