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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.

Study claims a "sinister bias for calling fouls in soccer."

Have you ever considered that your judgment was biased simply because your brain is wired in such a way as to negatively perceive events unfolding from right-to-left? Well, the scientists at the Neurology Department and the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience of the University of Pennsylvania conducted a scientific study to test whether movement from right-to-left (leftward movement) predisposed soccer referees to call a foul. According to the authors of the study, populations that read from left-to-right demonstrate a well-documented perceptual-motor bias which creates discomfort with the leftward motion. This discomfort leads these populations to view or perceive events moving from right-to-left (opposite to the direction in which they read/write) in a negative way. So, for example, readers of left-to-right languages were found to "rate goals scored from left-to-right [rightward motion] as more beautiful than goals scored in the opposite direction." The experiment's hypothesis proposed that American referees (or, simply put, those from western-world nations whose languages are read from left-to-right) would be more predisposed "to call a foul when the direction of play moves leftward."


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USA defeats Italy - for the first time ever! Let the Klinsanity begin!


Finally, on February 29, 2012, after 11 tries over a period of nearly eighty years, the U.S. Men National Team defeated the soccer powerhouse Italy 1:0. The history was made in the 55th minute of the game. Josie Altidore received the ball inside the Azzuri's penalty area and, using his strength, successfully fended off the Italian defender's challenge and calmly laid the ball to the incoming teammate, Clint Dempsey. Clint Dempsey did not disappoint. His low-shot whizzed passed by a diving goalkeeper and found its way into the Azzuri's goal.
As US defense held steady, that was all that the Americans would need to win this historic game. Understandably, elated Jurgen Klinsmann commented after the game that "if you beat Italy on their own soil, it means a lot. It's historic for us beating a team of Italy's level." He praised his players and said that they "have done an awesome job."

 

We couldn't agree more. Congratulations and let the Klinsanity begin!


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AC Milan and Juventus draw after the Referees fail to award a goal!

This past Saturday, AC Milan and Juventus played a pivotal game that could determine the championship of the Italian Serie A this season. AC Milan struck the first blow in the 14th minute of the game when Antonio Nocerino's shot fortuitously ricocheted off a Juventus' defender. The ricocheted ball completely fooled Buffon who hopelessly watched it go into the goal and AC Milan was up 1-0. In the 26th minute of the game, AC Milan should have been up by two goals after Sulley Muntari's header but the Referees - and more critically, the Assistant Referee - failed to notice that the ball crossed over the goal-line. The replays, and the pictures, clearly showed that, despite Buffon's valiant effort to stop the ball from going over the goal-line, the ball was already inside his goal when he parried it away.

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Inter in trouble and things just keep on getting worse!

Inter is in some serious trouble. In the Italian Serie A, Inter is currently in the 7th position with a total of 36 points, 14 points behind the leader Juventus which amassed a total of 50 points thus far. Importantly, Inter is 6 points behind Udinese which is currently holding the third and last Champions League spot.  Inter has not won a game since January 22, 2012 and, in fact, earned only 1 point from their last four games. It lost four of their last five league games. Amazingly, the losses were inflicted largely by the teams that Inter was expected to beat, including Lecce (18th in the table), Novara (19th in the table) and Bologna (15th in the table). The last loss, and perhaps the most embarrassing one, came against Bologna on February 17, 2012. In that game, Inter was badly beaten by a team that occupies the bottom-half of the Serie A table. What's more, the defeat came at home and by a humiliating score of 0-3. To put it mildly, the fans were not pleased! 


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IFAB meeting agenda calls for changes to the Laws of the Game.

On March 3, 2012, the five members of IFAB -- FIFA, The English Football Association, The Scottish Football Association, The Wales Football Association and the Irish Football Association -- will meet to discuss and vote on a number of proposed changes to the Laws of the Game. Below we list and discuss some of the most important items on the IFAB's agenda (the proposed changes to the current Laws of the Game are italicized):


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Did Champions League referees get their positioning wrong!?

We were glued to our TV sets this past Wednesday and Thursday watching the Champions League matches between Barcelona v. Bayern Leverkusen and AC Milan v. Arsenal. However, as referees and not just simply fans of the game, we could not help but notice the positioning of the additional assistant referees in those matches. The additional assistant referees in both of these games were positioned on that side of the goal that was nearer to the assistant referee. This immediately struck us as a rather curious positioning.


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The biggest MLS soap opera that was "Brian Ching" comes to an end!

Finally, after months of wrangling, shouting and accusations, Brian Ching is heading back to Houston. The Dynamo and the fans were elated to hear the news. Dominic Kinnear, the Dynamo head coach stated that he was "very happy to have Brian back with the team" and that "[t]his is a very important year for the Dynamo, and if anyone deserves to be involved with the team, it's Brian." The Dynamo wasted no time celebrating Ching's return and displayed the good news on its website's front page (see picture). 

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Our Recommended Reads:

 

  • Q&A With Referees' Chief Mike Riley (by Premierleague.com) - an in-depth interview with Mike Riley, general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited, about officiating with particular emphasis on tackling. 

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Major League Soccer salaries on the rise!

When Major League Soccer (MLS) was founded in 1996, the founders of the league organized it as a single entity. The idea was that as a single entity that owns all of the teams and player contracts, the league would be better able to control its costs because the individual team owners would not compete against each other for players' services. However, our analysis of MLS payrolls from 2004 through 2011 brings us to the conclusion that, despite its single-entity model, MLS players' salaries show a very impressive growth.


For example, the lowest guaranteed team payroll rose from $846,765 in 2004 to $2,690,688 in 2011. This represents a gain of over 217% or nearly 18% on an annualized basis in the period at issue (see Chart A).


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Suarez-Evra hostilities continue!!! What will the FA do now!!!

It' seems that the suspension that the Football Association (the FA) levied against Liverpool's striker Luis Suarez did not have the desired effect and the Suarez-Evra hostilities burst into the open once again last week.  Recall that in December 2011, the Football Association suspended Suarez for eight games and fined him £40,000 for allegedly hurling racist insults at Manchester United's defender Patrice Evra. At the time, the FA's statement said that:

 

"Mr. Suarez used insulting words towards Mr. Evra during the match contrary to FA Rule E3(1); The insulting words used by Mr. Suarez included a reference to Mr. Evra's colour within the meaning of Rule E3(2); Mr. Suarez shall be warned as to his future conduct, be suspended for eight matches covering all first team competitive matches and fined the sum of £40,000."

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The FA stripped John Terry of captaincy over racism allegations!

On February 3, 2012, the FA issued a statement "confirm[ing] that [John Terry] will not captain the England team until the allegations against him are resolved." It further stated that "[t]his decision has been taken due to the higher profile nature of the England captaincy, on and off the pitch, and the additional demands and requirements expected of the captain leading into and during a tournament." Was it the right decision? Well, before you answer this question, consider the following:

 

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  • Mancini: Tevez Return is Impossible (by RivalsDM) -- yet another development in the Tevez saga and confirmation (if one was even necessary) that Tevez had no future at Manchester City after defying Mancini and refusing play against Bayern Munich in the Champions League match.

 

  • FIFA President Sepp Blatter: Brazil 2014 will Have Goal Line Technology (by Ben Heyward) -- here is a bit of fascinating news. It appears that Blatter/FIFA finally relented and agreed to institute some kind of goal line technology. Many of you may remember that England got royally screwed in the World Cup game against Germany when Lampard was denied a goal against Germany despite the ball having clearly crossed the line. Hopefully, this was the last incident of this nature at such high profile tournament.

 

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Handling, or not, that is the question: Did Dowd and Webb get it right?

Referee decisions involving the offense known as "handling the ball" almost always stir controversy. Those that result in penalty kicks are guaranteed to be hotly debated. In two recent games, Liverpool v. Manchester City and Everton v. Fullham, both Phil Dowd and Howard Webb awarded penalty kicks for handling offenses committed by Manchester City and Everton players, respectively. Did they get it right? After all, just because the contact is made between the ball and the player's hand or arm does not automatically mean that the handling occurred. Rather, the Laws of the Game state that the handling offense is committed only if a player "handles the ball deliberately." So let's take a deeper and more exacting look into what referees must consider when making decisions whether the offense occurred.

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Did Vincent Kompany deserve to be dismissed???

We have no idea how Mancini could think that the appeal would be successful. After all, the FA requires that to be successful on a claim of Wrongful Dismissal, the Club must show that the referee "has made a serious and obvious error." Here, as we explain in more details below, the case for Wrongful Dismissal was not even close. The dismissal was required.

 

Indeed, Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct, expressly states that a player must be sent off if his offense rises to "serious foul play." According to the Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees issued by IFAB, a player is guilty of serious foul play if "he uses excessive force or brutality against an opponentâ€." Thus, "any player who lunges at an opponent in challenging for the ball from the front, from the side or from behind using one or both legs, with excessive force and endangering the safety of an opponent is guilty of serious foul play." According to FIFA's guidance, "using excessive force means that the player has far exceeded the necessary use of force and is in danger of injuring an opponent." FIFA rules require that a player who uses excessive force be sent off or shown red card.

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The Goal-Line technology may finally be coming to soccer!

Recently, IFAB released an agenda for its 126th Annual General Meeting and it appears that the delegates will have plenty to discuss, including eight proposals and amendments to the Laws of the Game. Among the items for discussion - one that we want to highlight here - is the use of the Goal-Line Technology (GLT). As many of you may recall, FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, was initially opposed to the implementation of the GLT technology because, he thought, it would remove "the human face" from the game. However, following the World Cup match between England and Germany during which Frank Lampard was denied a goal, Blatter warmed up to the idea of using the technology. In that crucial game, the referees failed to award a goal to Lampard even though the replays clearly showed that the ball, after hitting the underside of the crossbar, bounced down behind and crossed over the goal-line. It's too bad that it took yet another disastrous referee decision for FIFA to seriously consider the GLT technology. But, better late than never!

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Beckham staying with LA GALAXY!

So the long lasting saga of whether he stays or goes is finally over. As reported in this article by MLS, Beckham signed for another two years with the Galaxy. According to the article, Beckham said that he "had many offers from clubs from around the world, however, I'm still passionate about playing in America and winning trophies with the Galaxy." Indeed, reports abounded that teams such as Paris Saint-Germain, Queens Park Rangers and Tottenham Spurs expressed interest in acquiring services of Beckham at one point or another.

 

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