A yellow card awarded to Cape Town City midfielder Mpho Makola has now resulted in a six-month ban. The 33-year-old former international used both hands to push referee Abongile Tom last month after opponents Kaizer Chiefs were awarded a penalty during a League Cup match.
The offence – clearly a red-card one, the referee Tom only cautioned out-of-control Makola, who had to be dragged away from the match official by team-mates.
Makola’s ban has surprised many South African football followers who are used to offenders receiving light sentences for serious acts of ill discipline. Match bans and fines are often conditionally reduced, leading to criticism that the lenient approach encourages bad behaviour.
When a top-flight footballer was handed a 12-month sentence for spitting at a referee, it was slashed to six matches and a suspended 100,000 rand (6,800/6,150 euro) fine on appeal.
After another spitting incident, this time between players, a 10-match ban was cut to six after the offender appealed, and no fine was imposed.
With the Makola ban effective from November 15, he will miss the rest of the 2019/2020 season unless Cape Town reach the FA Cup final, scheduled for May 23.