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Soccer Blog

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We are current and former USSF referees with a combined refereeing experience of over three decades. We have officiated over 1000 games including professional level matches. While we consult and seek advice from a number of other referees, assessors and soccer officials, the website's content is primarily edited by Mr. Rafal Wlazlo and Mr. Artur M. Wlazlo. Rafal is a freshly retired National Referee from Eastern New York and a current State Referee Assessor. He began his refereeing career in 1998. Artur began his refereeing career in 1990 and retired in 2005, after nearly 15 years of refereeing. We sincerely hope that our knowledge and experience will help you in all aspects of refereeing, coaching and playing, as well as provide a platform to explore the beautiful world of soccer.

IFAB approves Goal Line Technology!

At a special meeting held in Zurich on July 5, 2012, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) approved the use of goal-line technology (GLT). GLT technology was undergoing a rigorous testing process for the past nine months and of the eight companies that took part in the first phase of testing only two systems -- Hawk-Eye  and GoalRef -- successfully completed the entire process and will be now allowed to apply for FIFA goal-line technology licenses. This was a historic decision as for the first time in its history IFAB agreed to introduce technology to assist the referee in determining whether a goal has been scored. As we understand, however, the referee will retain absolute and ultimate authority to determine whether a goal should be awarded or not. The IFAB also stressed that “the technology will only be utilized for the goal line and no other areas of the game.” Moreover, the use of technology will not be mandatory for any national soccer associations. The decisions concerning GLT went into effect immediately. However, given the approval of GLT technology, IFAB stated that certain wording of Laws of the Game, “relating to Law 1 (The Field of Play); Law 2 (The Ball); Law 5 (The Referee); and Law 10 (The Method of Scoring)”, will have to be made in the immediate future.  We, of course, will cover these changes when they are made.

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Screams for GLT echo at the Euro 2012.

One thing rather remarkable at the UEFA Euro 2012 Championship hosted by Poland and Ukraine that no one is writing about is that, for the most part, the quality of refereeing at this premier tournament is excellent.  Sure, there were some questionable refereeing decisions such as those that were made during the opener and which we wrote about but they did not negatively impact the game results. Unfortunately, like other major tournaments including FIFA World Cup, the one thing that the UEFA Euro 2012 tournament could not escape -- and very much to the head of UEFA Michel Platini's chagrin -- was the goal line technology controversy.


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Analysis of misapplied penalty kick procedure.

In the 62nd minute of a recent FC Dallas vs. Chicago Fire game, MLS referee Mr. Hilario Grajeda awarded a penalty kick to Chicago Fire. Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman saved Sebastian Grazzini’s shot, but another Chicago Fire striker, Marco Pappa, pounced on the rebound and knocked the ball into the net. Pappa, however, entered the penalty area well before his teammate Grazzini struck the ball (see the picture to the left and the video below). In other words, Pappa entered the penalty area illegally and the referee should have disallowed the goal. In addition, the footage from the game showed that another player from FC Dallas also illegally entered the penalty before the kick was taken. Therefore, the referee should have disallowed the goal and should have ordered the penalty kick to be retaken.


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The U.S. earns three points on the road to Brazil 2014.

The U.S. Men’s National Team began its road to Brazil 2014 with the win against Antigua & Barbuda at Raymond James Stadium in Florida.  Playing Antigua, a clearly inferior team, the U.S. dominated the game from the very beginning and scored the first goal after only 7 minutes of play.  Carlos Bocanegra’s goal came off the corner kick after Antigua’s goalkeeper failed to control the ball. Bocanegra pounced onto the loose ball and knocked it into the goal.

But Antigua held off for the next 36 minutes before conceding the second goal to the U.S. off the penalty kick. The penalty came in the 43th minute after Landon Donovan made an explosive run on the left flank and was chopped down by the Antiguan defender inside the box. Clint Dempsey stepped in and buried it right down the middle of the goal.

To our surprise, however, and despite the U.S. continued dominance, Antigua scored a goal in the 65th minute of the game, taking advantage of U.S. defensive mistake. All of a sudden tension permeated the field as the one goal advantage seemed now much too tenuous. Thus, the U.S. continued to press and finally in the 72nd minute of the game Hercules Gomez scored a third goal for the U.S. The U.S. restored its two goal advantage and everybody breathed a huge sigh of relief.

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Euro 2012 begins with refereeing controversy!

The year’s biggest soccer tournament -- Euro 2012 – has just got under way. We, of course, anticipated that the tournament would provide a fertile ground for interesting articles about the game and, obviously, refereeing. But we did not suspect that we would be so quickly confronted with controversial refereeing decisions. Well, in the opening game of the tournament between the host nation Poland and 2004 Euro Champions Greece, Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo was the center of controversy.


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USA defeats Scotland 5:1 - perfect 2012 record intact!

Jurgen Klinsmann’s perfect winning record in 2012 continued as the United States convincingly – and in great style -- defeated Scotland 5:1 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.

The U.S. took an early lead after a scramble in the Scottish penalty area when Landon Donovan roofed the ball into Scotland’s goal in the 4th minute of the game.  The goal was reminiscent of the one Donovan scored against Slovenia in the World Cup.  Having his first shot blocked by the Scottish goalkeeper, Landon Donovan pounced on the loose ball in the five yard box and, even though three Scottish defenders attempted to block his shot, he coolly skied the ball passed them and into Scotland’s goal.  The U.S. was up 1:0.


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MLS referee, Jorge Gonzales, sends off Adu for simulation!

We hate diving! Unfortunately, diving or “simulation” has long been the scourge of world soccer and FIFA has made repeated attempts, with varying degrees of success, to eradicate it from its competitions. MLS has also stated that it would not tolerate diving.  In fact, back in 2011, following a suspension of a former D.C. United forward Charlie Davies for diving during a game between DC United and Real Salt Lake, MLS stated that “all instances of behavior that serve to deceive and that directly impact the game will be subject to severe discipline, including a fine, suspension or both.” 

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Bolton relegated from EPL after referee’s blunder.

There was plenty of drama in the Premier League during the last round. Understandably, a lot of attention was paid to the two Manchester teams that were vying for the title trophy of the Premier League.  Ultimately, after much drama and in an incredibly nail-biting fashion, Manchester City defeated QPR 3-2 and was crowned the Champion of the Premier League. But there was a similar and heart-wrenching drama at the bottom of the table as well. Before the weekend games began, everybody knew that only a win - and a QPR defeat at Manchester City - would have resulted in Bolton staying up in the English Premier League. 

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Revolution wins first ever red-card appeal!

Last week Major League Soccer announced that the MLS Disciplinary Committee has decided to rescind Fernando Cardenas’ red-card suspension. Unlike many other leagues, MLS has empowered the MLS Disciplinary Committee to review all games and all incidents that occur during regular season and MLS Cup Playoff games. Thus, under the rules governing the MLS Disciplinary Committee, clubs do not even need to request a review.  We believe that the review process set up by the league is of great benefit to the league, teams and players.  In fact, the Committee’s decision to rescind Cardenas' red-card suspension serves as a perfect example for why the review process set up by the league should be emulated elsewhere.

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Outside Interference and proper restart.

Recently, we confronted those who follow us on Twitter with a rather thorny question regarding outside interference. So, without further ado, here’s the question that we asked: Goal Kick is taken by the goalkeeper. The ball leaves the penalty box and then hits an overhanging tree branch. The ball bounces back into the penalty box and the goalkeeper catches it with his hands. Decision?

Now, before we provide a correct answer to this question, we have to admit that we posed this question being fully aware that it would cause some difficulty, because the Laws of the Game do not specifically deal with the situation we described. We also posed this question because we knew that your first reaction would be to call for the restart by dropped ball since there was “interference” when the ball contacted an object that was not part of the field of play. Finally, we wanted to examine more closely the USSF’s analysis of what constitutes “outside interference” and what a proper restart is when it occurs.


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Study - ARs make too many inaccurate offside decisions!

As some of you may know, in the last week’s Premier League game between Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers, the assistant referee missed an obvious offside by a proverbial mile. Compounding the mistake, the referee pointed to the spot and sent off the QPR defender for fouling Ashley Young inside the area and denying him an obvious goal scoring opportunity.  Needlessly to say, neither the foul (however it might have been debatable) nor the send off would occur if the assistant referee correctly signaled for the offside.


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USSF got it wrong - violation of substitution procedure is no trifling offense.

In this blog, we are writing about remarks that were included in the Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game issued by the United States Soccer Federation (the “USSF”) in 2011.  Specifically, we express our disappointment and dismay over the advice offered by the USSF, which appears to direct referees to disregard specific provisions of the Laws of the Game, dealing with the substitution and changing of goalkeepers.  Indeed, we direct your attention to the following paragraph in section 8.3 titled “THE START OF PLAY” and, in particular, to the sentence that we underlined below:

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Analysis of a (missed) offside - DC United v. FC Dallas game.

In this article, we are highlighting a no-offside decision that was made by the assistant referee in the game between DC United and FC Dallas.  As the video clip rather indisputably shows, when the ball was played , Blas Perez of FC Dallas was clearly in an offside position.  However, as all referees and students of the Laws of the Game should know, simply being in an offside position is not an offense.  The Laws of the Game require more.  Thus, before we start passing our judgment on the assistant referee’s decision, let’s review waht happened (see video below), analyze the applicable law and then apply it to the situation at hand.


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MLS Referee, Mark Geiger, sends off Impact player for elbowing opponent!

We wanted to highlight one referee’s decision from this past weekend’s MLS game.  In a game between Columbus Crew and Montreal Impact, Mr. Mark Geiger, called a foul on a Montreal Impact player, Jeb Brovsky, for elbowing the opponent.  The infringement occurred roughly in the middle of the field and early on in the game in the 19th minute.  For these reasons, many referees would be inclined to “look the other way” and only caution the offending player.  However, Mr. Geiger correctly sent off the Montreal player who, as replays clearly showed, made no real attempt to play the ball (see video below). 

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Proper substitution procedure: why can't referees get it right?!

We watched several local games over the past couple weeks.  It boggled our mind that all of the refereeing crews in all of these games failed to observe and enforce a proper substitution procedure. Unfortunately, this was not something out of ordinary. Over the past several years, we have noticed that referees consistently fail to adhere and enforce the substitution procedure that is spelled out in the Laws of the Game.  For example, referees regularly let substitutes to enter the field of play before substituted players exit it.  Or, the substitutes were allowed to enter the field of play from the area next to their team’s bench and not from the halfway line. We also saw the referees allowing substitutions to take place before their assistant referees were even informed that a team wanted to substitute a player or before a substitution slip was completed.

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QPR denied goal reignites the Goal Line Technology debate yet again!

Regular readers of this blog already know that we covered the goal line technology debate in a number of posts. However, we seem to be unable to get away from this subject mostly because referees continue to make glaring mistakes and fail to award goals where they are clearly merited.  The latest error was committed by the referees who officiated a game between Bolton Wanderers and Queens Park Rangers this past Saturday, March 10, 2012.


At the time when the game was still scoreless, Clint Hill, QPR’s defender, headed the ball towards Bolton’s goal.  Adam Bogdan, Bolton’s goalkeeper, dove after the ball and desperately tried to stop it from going over the line but all of the replays and pictures (see above) clearly showed that the ball crossed over the goal line.  In fact, it appeared that by the time Bogdan got to it, the ball was already one foot over the line. QPR should have been leading Bolton by a score of 1:0.

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Balance sheets of top clubs in Europe continue to deteriorate despite five years of record income growth!

In this blog, we are highlighting some of the most important conclusions and numbers from the fourth edition of the Club Licensing Benchmarking Report for the fiscal year 2010 that was most recently published by the UEFA. The report provides a detailed and comprehensive analysis of financial matters of the top division European Clubs. The information included in the report was received directly from the clubs and their national associations. Here are the highlights:


Revenues/Income: according to the report, the income of the 734 European top division clubs totaled €12.8 billion.  The average income growth per year over the last five years was 9.1%.  This meant that incomes of top soccer clubs in Europe far outpaced the growth of the European economies which, in stark contrast, grew only 0.2% on average.  The average revenue of English clubs was €134 million.  The biggest contributor to the rising incomes/revenues of top division clubs have been broadcasting deals, which have grown at annual rate of 12.4%.

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The U.S. Soccer Federation and Major League Soccer form the Professional Referee Organization.

On March 6, 2012, the U.S. Soccer Federation and Major League Soccer announced that they formed the Professional Referee Organization (PRO). The statement on the Federation's website stated that:


"[PRO] will be responsible for managing the referee program in professional soccer leagues in the United States and Canada.

The creation of PRO is designed to increase the quality of officiating in U.S. and Canadian professional leagues, develop more professional quality officials at a younger age and develop officials who will represent the United States and Canada in FIFA competitions.

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IFAB makes changes to the Laws of the Game and calls for additional testing of the Goal Line Technology.

The International Football Association Board (the IFAB) agreed to extend the testing of the Goal Line Technology (GLT). IFAB approved two companies, Hawk-Eye and GoalRef, for the second phase of testing. According to the statement issued by FIFA, "the second test phase - to take place between March and June 2012 - will rigorously assess the reliability and accuracy of each system, as well as how robust the technology is. Following the conclusion of Test Phase 2, should one or more companies fulfill the criteria, a Special Meeting of the IFAB in Kiev on 2 July 2012 will decide on a definitive approval of GLT."

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