PSA to come down hard on ugly stoppages
SQUASH MAD COMMENT
The new PSA Referees’ Director, Lee Drew, is determined to stamp his mark on the game by attempting to banish any repeat of the ugly squash that marred the first round of the Canary Wharf Classic.
The all-Egyptian opening-night match between No.7 seed Omar Mosaad and his younger compatriot Karim Abdel Gawad descended into farce with 70 refereeing decisions required in a match lasting 71 minutes.
Mosaad won a bruising encounter 3-1 to book a quarter-final match against England’s top seed, world champion Nick Matthew.
With a sell-out crowd in a prestigious London venue, and with a worldwide audience tuning in to the PSA’s live web-streaming service, the men’s World Tour operators are keen to avoid a repeat of Monday’s nightmare match.
One PSA player wrote in to say: “Ironically, squash lost out to wrestling for a place in the 2020 Olympics. Perhaps Mosaad and Gawad were trying to launch some kind of hybrid sport that included a little bit of squash and a lot of wrestling.”
Other PSA members were quick to vent their feelings on Twitter in a spontaneous show of disgust at the over-physical antics on court.
A more considered view arrived via email from a senior PSA Tour pro who said: “It’s very difficult, I’m afraid. It’s such a grey area that many players exploit, and I’m not going to pretend to be innocent myself!
“That’s a big guy (Mosaad), deliberately coming off the ball into someone’s line with a ‘square’ stance. His pure size turns a simple let into a no-let around the mid-court area.
“I’m not sure what Gawad can do, apart from knock a few teeth out with his racket and I’m not sure that’s a great advert for the game, either.
“Neither player wanted to play the ball clearly, and I would have liked to see the referees be stronger on this right from the start.
“Bear in mind, though, that that was one of the stronger referees (John Massarella) in the world of squash! I am glad this is getting talked about.”
We understand that Drew plans to brief players and referees ahead of the Canary Wharf quarter-finals.
Players will be under instructions to stop blocking their opponents, fishing for lets and strokes, and constantly arguing with referees.
The match officials will be asked to punish such behaviour and to adopt a tougher stance to stop things getting out of control on court.
Squash is serious about preventing a negative image damaging the future of the sport. The PSA is clearly taking a firm line on player behaviour and will demand that referees, currently appointed by the WSF, will be singing from the same hymn sheet.
PSA Chief Executive Alex Gough has already revealed that some TV networks have shown a reluctance to broadcast the sport because of the frequency of puzzling stoppages that are baffling to the non-squash viewer.
And the WSF is keen to present squash in the best possible light to strengthen the ongoing campaign to make squash an Olympic sport.
The two federations are to be applauded if they can heal a gaping wound that has damaged the sport for so long.