The Sunday Mail

Sports Reporter

FORMER Zimbabwe Referee of the Year Felix Tangawariwa has led tributes to Zambian and Confederation of African Football referee instructor, Katongo Kabungo, who collapsed and died in Zambia, early hours of Monday.

The late Katongo Kabungo

Tangawarima who is the Cosafa referees manager said “KK’’, as Kabungo was affectionately called, was like the “Godfather” of refereeing in the Southern African region who nurtured many of the top officials in his country and in the zone.

Kabungo is expected to be buried Thursday.

“The sudden death of Mr Kabungo Katongo has left a cloud of confusion with many in the football fraternity and in particular to the Cosafa Referees family and the referees in general.

“Affectionately known as Mr KK with a small K, he was a legend, an icon and a pillar in his area of operation.

“A father and mentor to all the referees in the Cosafa region and beyond. Mr KK was a great man, a former Fifa referee who refereed top level matches for CAF and Fifa, a CAF and Fifa match commissioner.

“A distinguished referees’ instructor, a football administrator par excellence, a good and faithful servant of the Lord whose spiritual life was exemplary.

“He was also a selfless sports person, extremely well respected by all the referees and people he worked with,’’ Tangawarima said.

Tangawarima said Kabungo who had many visits to Zimbabwe to assist with the referees’ courses was also an archive of knowledge on the laws of the game.

“KK was charming — he had a magic effect that made people like him. He understood other people’s problems well and knew how to deal with them. He was a diplomat and very good at trying to help people see both sides of a situation.

“He was our archives which was fully stocked in particular for the rules and regulations. We would turn on him on everything that we were not sure of be it competition rules and what CAF, Fifa and Cosafa would be saying.

“It’s very sad to lose a legend of his calibre. We will sadly miss him. He was always a gentleman and a close friend to all. KK made an indelible mark during the time we had him on earth as he distinguished himself as a highly respected professional sportsperson.

“All the referees you see now from Cosafa officiating at the highest level of the game come through the wise teaching and mentoring of Mr KK. The extent of his involvement and support to our referees has been outstanding.

“Cosafa is the top region in CAF in terms of producing quality referees and we give credit to Mr KK for the work he did in the development of our match officials

“Rest in peace our mentor Cosafa will never be the same without you,’’ Tangawarima said.

Cosafa secretary-general Sue Destombes also paid tribute to Kabungo.

“Cosafa has lost one of its finest servants after referees’ instructor Katongo Kabungo passed away suddenly in Zambia in the early hours of Monday morning.

“Kabungo was a highly-respected member of the referees’ team as a co-ordinator, instructor, assessor, mentor and administrator to both our grassroots referees and elite panel, and his loss will be keenly felt by all.

“KK was truly a part of the Cosafa family, gladly giving of his time and services, and helping to bring through so many of our best match officials,” Destombes said.

“He will be sorely missed, not only for his professionalism but also his friendship and sense of humour.

“We would like to extend our deepest condolences to his family, his four children and seven grandchildren, as well as the Football Association of Zambia. He will forever be part of the Cosafa story,’’ Destombes said.

Kabungo began his refereeing career in 1973 and joined the Fifa panel six years later. He was appointed a CAF referees instructor in 1997, and as referees manager by the Football Association of Zambia in 2010, later also serving as general secretary in 2016.