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Posted by on in General

Referee AbuseReferee abuse has to stop.  Plain and simple.  Coaches and players complaining about the way the referees call the game is nothing new.  In fact, something would seem just a little bit off if they weren’t doing it.  But in the last two or three years (and 2015 especially) it almost appeared as if there was a directive stating that referee abuse needed to be ramped up to new heights.  And it’s not just players, coaches and fans: most of the soccer media have jumped on the anti-referee bandwagon writing piece after piece about this referee not being good enough or that decision being wrong, etc (my personal favorite is every commentator saying every send off is “harsh”).  It has to stop.  


The problem starts in youth leagues.  Players, coaches and parents all want to win.  When things don’t go their way the referees usually take the brunt of whatever went wrong.  Players are told by coaches and their parents (at a more alarming rate than ever) that it’s not their fault they lost, it’s the referee’s fault because of a penalty that was or wasn’t given or any number of contentious decisions that happen during the course of a game.  So, when they don’t get the calls they want they start mouthing off to the referee.  Eventually everybody starts to do it over and over again until it snowballs out of control.  Until corrective action is taken, the problem will only continue to get worse.  


b2ap3_thumbnail_videoreview.jpgWe have lots to cover in this discussion, so let’s get right to it.


The introduction of Official Reviews (use of Instant Replay) in Major League Soccer is long overdue, and I fully support a roll out as soon as 2016… assuming U.S. Soccer and Sunil Gulati can somehow obtain the blessings of FIFA (lame duck) President Sepp Blatter.


At the risk of potentially “dehumanizing” the world’s most emotional sport… why should MLS use video replays?  Let me count the ways… and allow me to begin by stating for the record that not every idea shared in this article is my own, but you’ll soon see that my position is a bit more extreme than others.


b2ap3_thumbnail_431.jpgEvery year or two, we read with great interest about the arrival of a new referee in Major League Soccer, and it’s usually all about reaching the pinnacle of a career after a journey of 12+ years of dedication, determination and incredibly hard work.  Mental anguish, battling burnout, overcoming the taunts of abusive parents (yes, the antics of spectators at a U10 game)… so many of our MLS referees were tried-and-tested first at the competitive youth level, and were then thrown into the deep fryer of ethnic amateur games for several years, where survival instincts advance the best and bravest to the next level. 


And it certainly helps if the ball takes a favorable bounce or two along the way.


The predominant unwritten rule (or at least the prevailing trend) suggests that officiating talent must be “discovered” before age 25 and continuously refined over ten or so years, so that we can herald the arrival of the next Brian Hall, Kevin Stott or Mark Geiger before the referee turns 35.


Of course, there are notable exceptions to nearly every rule, and that’s a very good thing.


Making up for lost time, Robert Sibiga, all of 41 years young, has arrived on the scene in Major League Soccer, and deservedly so after dedicating the last seven years of his life to studying, growing and advancing with the World’s Game.  To say he made up for lost time is an understatement, and if his first two MLS performances are a true indication of the man’s talent, we’re probably going to see a lot more of him.

b2ap3_thumbnail_dempseyredcard.jpgIf the third time’s a charm, what is the fourth time? 


For the US Open Cup, the Fourth Round of competition (the Round of 32 teams and 16 games) signaled the anticipated debut of the 17 U.S.-based MLS teams.   And while only two matches saw MLS teams fall to lower division opponents (one each from the NASL and USL), three other MLS sides squeaked by via penalty tiebreakers.


Speaking of fours – before the Orlando City/Charleston Battery game was ultimately decided by 10 rounds of tiebreaker kicks from the mark, referee Rubiel Vazquez whistled and pointed to the spot no less than four times.  Orlando City’s Carlos Rivas bagged his first career hat trick by converting all three penalty kicks awarded to the Lions.  Interesting stuff indeed.


b2ap3_thumbnail_NCAA.jpgThe FIFA Laws of the Game are supposed to be applied to all associations around the world but not, it appears, in the USA.


The differing governing bodies that control Intercollegiate and other soccer associations there appear to “tweak” the “rules” to suit themselves.


The 2015 “SOCCER GUIDE INTERSCHOLASTIC (HIGHSCHOOL) EDITION” by Don Dennison, NISOA National Clinician, sets out where these tweaks should be. Mr Dennison wrote the guide based upon:


  • “NCAA Soccer Rules and Interpretations – 2014 – 2015
  • National Federation Soccer Rules Book – 2015-2016
  • [USSF] FIFA Laws of the Game – 2014/2015
  • And Other Authorised Supplemental Materials.”

 Revised March 29, 2015.


b2ap3_thumbnail_refereeattacked.jpgA Scottish referee was brutally and violently attacked by a player in a game in Saudi Arabia.


The incident happened in a local derby between two of the KSA’s fiercest rivals Al Hilal and Al Nasr.


Such is the intensity of the rivalry between these two teams that referee John Beaton and his two assistants, Stuart Stevenson and Douglas Ross, were sent to the Middle East after a request from the local association for outside match officials.


In the 67th minute with the score at 1 – 0 the referee red carded Al Hilal’s Mohammad Jahfali.


b2ap3_thumbnail_goal.jpgNostalgia time.  I remember my first Major League Soccer assignment like it was yesterday: Old Mile High Stadium in Denver… April 14, 2001.  This rookie was going to be the Junior Assistant Referee for Kevin Stott in the Colorado Rapids’ home opener against the MetroStars.  In hindsight, I probably should have informed Kevin more than 30 minutes prior to kick-off that this would be my first career MLS game.


No worries.  Mr. Stott has an amazing sense of humor.  And an even more amazing presence on the field.


b2ap3_thumbnail_OrlandoFC.jpgAt last!  It's been long coming and, quite frankly, we thought we would never seen it.  But, it finally arrived.


No, we are not really talking about the start of the new MLS season this weekend.  Although, obviously, we are thrilled that the season started on time and without work stoppage which, as it was reported, was quite still probable just a couple of days before the kickoff.  


What we are talking about here is Mr. Alan Kelly's performance during a historic game between two new MLS expansion teams Orlando City SC and NY City FC in front of 62,000 fans at Orlando Citrus Bowl stadium in Orlando, Florida.  


b2ap3_thumbnail_In-Your-face.jpgOur 140,000+ registered soccer referees here in the United States are extremely fortunate to have professional peers from which to learn.  While cheering on their favorite or hometown teams, aspiring referees can tune into Major League Soccer games for nine months out of the year and study how referees recognize foul play, take risks to maximize game flow, manage player behaviors, and apply the Laws of the Game.  Television coverage of pro soccer has grown by leaps and bounds over MLS’ first two decades.


Just one request:  Please don’t emulate the pro referees’ mechanics when they issue yellow cards.  What works for them might not work as well for you…


When it comes to issuing cautions, our aspiring officials – especially Grade 7 referees working adult games at the amateur level (AGAL) and in particular those who fly solo (without assistant referees) – must consistently get it right, as their success in managing the game absolutely depends on it.


b2ap3_thumbnail_PGMOL.jpgThere is a strong perception out there that the EPL referees and their assistants are among the best in the world.


However, in a recent scathing attack on his former colleagues, Keith Hackett, the former head of the USA equivalent of PRO, called for four current Premier League referees to be dropped at the end of the season.


He went on to label the current crop of match officials operating in the top tier of English football as “the worst that we have seen.”


Mr. Hackett, who was succeeded as head of the Professional Games Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) by ex Premier referee Mike Riley, has called for Mr. Riley to be sacked and for one particular referee Lee Probert to be removed from his position should he fail a fitness test.


b2ap3_thumbnail_DOGSO-blog.jpgWe wanted to provide an important update to our recent blog on this subject matter because of the additional information that has been brought to our attention after our blog was published (If you have not read the blog, we strongly encourage you to read it first before continuing further).  Namely, one of our regular readers and forum contributor, Alex Fletcher, pointed us to a quiz posted on this website containing one question that is directly relevant to the type of hypothetical situation that we analyzed in our blog.  The questions is as follows:


A defender on his own goal line, between the goal posts, deliberately handles the ball which rebounds to an opponent who scores a goal directly. What decision should the referee make?

A. The referee sends off the defender for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball to prevent a goal and awards a penalty kick.
B. The referee applies advantage, allows the goal and cautions the defender for unsporting behaviour.
C. The referee applies advantage, awards the goal and sends off the defender for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball to prevent a goal.
D. The referee applies advantage and awards the goal without taking any disciplinary action.   


Posted by on in General

b2ap3_thumbnail_lawsofthegame_20141223-034133_1.jpgSome time ago I wrote a blog stating that refereeing was not for the faint hearted. I stick by that conclusion.  I would even go on to say that while some might perceive themselves as being match officials, they would never make a referee in their lifetime. Why?


Let me start from the beginning and as you read on you’ll get to grip with what I mean.


Refereeing is a special kind of “work.” It requires nerves of steel, the fitness of an Olympic athlete, skin as thick as an elephant (no disrespect to the elephant), the wisdom of Albert Einstein, and the testicular fortitude of a struggling politician telling us that everything is “hunky dorey” when constantly getting doors slammed in his/her face.


Not many have those qualities. Fewer still will ever develop them so my advice is take some other activity where there is no stress and even less hassle.


b2ap3_thumbnail_DOGSO-blog.jpgWe recently had an interesting discussion on our forum about one particular incident that occurred in a match between Real Madrid v. Ludogorets Razgrad.  As can be viewed in the video below, in the 19th minute of the game, Ludogorets’ player, who was standing on the goal line between the posts, illegally prevented the ball from going into the goal by intentionally deflecting it with his arm.  The deflected ball, however, bounced and luckily landed right in front of Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale who volleyed into the goal.  Bale’s celebration was cut short, however, when he realized that the referee blew the whistle and signaled for the penalty kick instead. Following his decision to award the penalty kick, the referee dismissed the offending player for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.  The resulting penalty kick was – fortunately for the referee – converted into Real Madrid’s goal.


b2ap3_thumbnail_brianhall.jpgI love autumn.  The leaves are turning color.  The air has become crisp (last night’s temp dropped to 52F).   My Clippers and Kings are off to a solid (if not entirely promising) start.  And so many Facebook friends are posting photos of their NCAA, NJCAA and NAIA playoff matches… some in short sleeves, others in long sleeves… and then there’s the occasional parka!


On December 14, all eyes will turn to Cary, North Carolina and WakeMed Soccer Park in anticipation of the 2014 NCAA Men’s College Cup.  A crowd expected to exceed 7,000 will witness the pinnacle of collegiate soccer, contested on a pristine grass pitch inside an impressive complex specifically built to showcase soccer.  WakeMed stands as proof (and one of nearly 20 modern examples) of just how far the World’s Game has progressed here in the United States.


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