Bengaluru, June 13: Football has a massive fan following in India. Nowadays, even celebrities are taking interests in promoting the game as like in cricket. But amid all the fanfare, one can say that becoming a football referee in India is not a wise career choice.
MB Santosh Kumar, one of the only six referees accredited by the international football body Fifa from India who recently officiated the match between Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC at the Kanteerava Stadium here, drives an auto-rickshaw to earn a living when he is not on the field. [Mohun Bagan clinch I-League]
According to a News Minute report, Kumar, who resides in Kottayam in Kerala, wanted to become a footballer but could not become so because of a knee injury sustained when he was 21.
He then took to refereeing. He started as a referee in unofficial matches and then qualified for professional games.
Kumar worked as a caretaker at an apartment complex and then started driving auto-rickshaws for a living. "Refereeing is not a reliable field. Professionally accredited referees do recieve renumeration, but tough for other. If we do not pass the fitness test, it is nearly impossible to come back to the field," the News Minute quoted him as saying.
Kumar, who officiates nearly 150 matches a year, said the state of referees in India needs a big improvement.
The 40-year-old, who has been refereeing for nearly two decades now, has officiated in the Nehru Cup in 2012 and National Games in China in 2013. He was also one of the referees in former Indian football captain Baichung Bhutia's farewell game against Bayern Munich in 2011.