Friday, December 31, 2010

Lies!! Damn Lies!!! Part Deux.

Product is property of Power Balance
In an earlier post I spoke about this Power Balance product and how they got caught scamming folks at $60 a pop.

Well, as I said the product is available much cheaper from outlets like Amazon.com.

Just for kicks I got curious how the live demo's (as seen in the earlier post) actually work. As luck would have it I found this really funny post on Amazon with one person's experience and what he did to thwart the scammers.

151 of 166 people found the following review helpful:

1.0 out of 5 stars Sales rep... Busted! *READ IT*September 22, 2010
This review is from: Power Balance Silicone Wristband Bracelet --(Color:black; Size: L) (Misc.)
Allow me to relay an experience I had with a sales rep at the local fair recently, which may be illuminating. 

I was wandering through the sales tent with my girlfriend, and paused in front of a booth with stacks of these wristbands, official PB sales material, and photos of star athletes with PB bling on their wrists. 

"Have you heard of the PB wristband?" Salesman (as of then) asked. 

"No, what is it?" 

"It's embedded with a positively charged hologram that reacts with certain frequencies in the Earth to improve balance, strength and flexibility". ...


See the full review here, courtesy of Amazon. It is funny!

ESPN's Take on 2010 for US Soccer

Biggest disappointments in U.S. soccer

No one will be happier to see the back of 2010 than U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati. First, there was the U.S. national team's second-round loss to Ghana at the World Cup. Then there was Juergen Klinsmann turning down Gulati's offer to manage the U.S. side. Finally, Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup over a U.S. bid headed by Gulati.

That's not to say this past year was devoid of highs for U.S. soccer. Heck, Landon Donovan's stoppage-time winner against Algeria, which propelled the U.S. into the second round in South Africa, will sustain supporters through the bitterest winter night all by itself. (For more on the U.S.'s best moments of the year, click here.) ...

See the full article here, courtesy of ESPN.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lies!! Damn Lies!!!



I just caught this and as it was tangentially soccer related I posted it for all.

For anyone who has seen the add for "Power Balance" or heard their claims that "Power Balance wristbands improved your strength, balance and flexibility."

I hate to break it to you ... it was all a lie.

After all how does one expect the "... harness(ing) naturally occurring frequencies and program them into a mylar hologram," to work any way? No really, watch the ad above.

Well someone caught up with these snake oil sales folks as the following "corrective advertisement" can be found on their Australian site.

It states basically ... we lied, we made it up, we got caught, and we'll give you a refund.

Nice.

Fortunately no one in the soccer world seemed to pick up on this scam and endorse it ... or did they?

Check out here. You will get a couple pictures of Becks and the kids from US Weekly and People Magazine from the offending company's site.

Who says sports isn't big business? At $59.95 a pop (or $5 on Amazon.com), and Becks as an informal spokesman, who could go wrong?

Interesting Spin on Climate Change

Photo (c) by Flickr user scpgt. Used under a Creative Commons 2.0 licence.

Climate changes in sport

There is much talk about the weather these days, as it is – as usual – behaving out of the ordinary. There are two ways to approach extreme weather. One is climate initiatives, and the other is to adapt to the weather conditions. In national and international sports, there is increasing talk about the latter. ...

See the complete article here at Playthegame.org.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tamborino to take position with MLS?

An unsubstantiated story has surfaced that former USSF Director of Officials Paul Tamberino will assume a position with Major League Soccer as a Director in the "Competition Department." Supposedly the job involves serving as liaison to both the USSF and Canadian officials for the purpose of training and development of the league's cadre of referees. Do not be surprised if this includes assigning the referees, which he did in his previous position.

So, to a casual observer, this seems like a newly created position to do just what he was doing before, but under the direct auspices of MLS. Stay tuned for further details.....

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cost of hosting the 2022 World Cup ... $78.4M?

Series of Gaffes Ends Soccer’s Big Year

It began as a celebrative year for Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, soccer’s world governing body. He took the World Cup to Africa for the first time, although many were sure that South Africa would fail as the host. As it turned out, Blatter, 74, was right. The stadiums were full, the South Africans were welcoming hosts and capable organizers, and fears of violence were unfounded.

The problem with the end of Blatter’s year, though, is that FIFA has never adapted to the standards of transparency that govern many international entities. Based in Zurich, it is an insular body unregulated by any outside organization. And since his election in 1998, Blatter and other top FIFA officials have faced repeated charges of mismanagement and corruption. ...

See the complete article here, courtesy of  the NYT.

Monday, December 27, 2010

See you in January?

Players support winter World Cup in 2022

After the comments by Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini and Franz Beckenbauer that the 2022 FIFA World Cup should be played in January instead of June/July, strong support has come from FIFPro, the world footballers’ union which also believes the 2022 World Cup in Qatar should be held in the winter instead of summer.

Summer temperatures hit 50 degrees centigrade in the Gulf and FIFPro has said it is pleased FIFA is open to changing the tournament’s timing to address the issue of heat. ...

See the full article here, courtesy of George Cumming's Football Blog.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Programming Note


Friends,

In the next couple of days I will be completing my preparation for completing my law school studies. During this time I do have a couple of stories queued up for you for your reading pleasure, and I am sure JAFO and Nigel will jump in as well.

I will be back online for the turn of the New Year to answer any comments and "set the bar" for 2011.

Until then, be safe, stay healthy, and enjoy the holidays.

A word of the year

As some of you know I am developing in to a sesquipedalian in my old age. That's just fancy speak for, "I like to unnecessarily use big words."

I am blaming my imminent completion of law school on this phenomenon. Hopefully it will pass.

In the mean time however, I was reading Paul Levy's recent entry, "I'm gonna scream." In it, he points to a recent NYT article that detailed the words of the year that have been added to the English lexicon.

Chief among them ... Vuvuzela.

Yes folks, I just can't get enough ...

Just to finish the year off right, here is a fun story from CNN detailing the history of the fabled horn.

Services for Richard Filippetti

Additional information, and details about the services for Rich have been posted on the Massachusetts State Referee Committee web site here.

Referees planning on attending services are encouraged to wear USSF formal attire.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

No comments ... please



Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Soccer and the Christmas Truce of 1914

As JAFO is fond of saying, and is correct ... Soccer Is Life.

For those who have not read the story of the Christmas Truce of 1914 please take a few moments and read the linked story and materials. It is an amazing piece of history.

While today, war is a part of life, and for some, sadly, a way of life, this story gives me hope that it does not have to be that way forever.

One interesting note for me was the fact that there were no referees for these matches. This fact continues to strengthen my conviction that referees are really just surplus for THE game anyway as it belongs to the players.

Please note the early release time of this one, as if you are in the same boat as me, you have screaming kids already up and tearing up the house. Nothing better.

Merry Christmas to all!!

Soccer and the Christmas Truce of 1914

It’s can be difficult to explain to one’s fellow non-soccer-loving Americans just how powerful a force the game of soccer is in the world.

For example, soccer can be the spark that ignites the flames of war.

In an already existing atmosphere of heightened political tensions over the borders between El Salvador and Honduras, the qualifying matches for the 1970 World Cup between those two countries led to La guerra del fĂștbol or “The Football War.” After 100 hours of combat some 3,000 soldiers and civilians were dead and hundreds of thousands of civilians had been displaced. After the war, because each country had won the home leg of their qualifiers, a play-off had to be played, which El Salvador won. They didn’t make it out of the group stages of the World Cup in Mexico and some four decades later the demarcation of the new borders between the two countries has yet to be formalized.

Or, soccer can be the symbol that finally turns the page on a long ended war. ...

Full story continues here, courtesy of The Philly Soccer Page.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Passing of a friend

Dear Friends,

On 23-DEC a true friend of the game, Rich Filippetti, has passed away after a long, and strongly-fought, battle with cancer.

In this holiday time please take just a minute and keep the Filippetti Family in your thoughts as we all have lost a greatly respected member of the Mass Youth Soccer community.

What we were there NOT to see

So the other day I was at Jr.'s indoor match intently watching his, and his teams' performance. Halftime came and the young referee was standing at midfield, juggling the ball, passing the five or so minutes mandated by the facility for halftime rest.

Then it happened.

He missed a juggle, slipped over top the ball, and came crashing down on the pitch.

Ouch.

As he had drawn quite a crowd of spectators and players watching him, he was rewarded with a round of applause and took a bow for good measure ... no harm done.

Or was there?

Later in the match, you guess it, there was a contraversal call. There was some grumbling among parents, and one wise guy said:
Maybe you should stick to playing
I don't believe the young referee heard it, but the point was made ... albeit rudely.

This point was that we were there not to watch a referee show us how good a player he is. A referee is there just to referee the match. No more, no less.

Don't get me wrong, there are a fair number of referees out there, even at the international and professional level that have a "look at me" attitude, sometimes for the wrong reasons.

There is a time to be seen certainly, but most if the time you job is to be hidden and let the players show their skills.

It was once described to me a "getting out your invisible paint and painting yourself before a match." It was an interesting analogy, but also a very accurate one. You just don't want to be seen unless you have to.

Not juggling at midfield during halftime is a good place to start.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fourteen Get FIFA Badges

Kicking Back Comments: I can only imagine there is no greater thrill than to be a pioneer in a new land. Congratulations to these referees who will now serve as Tanzania's finest.

FIVE local referees and nine assistant referees have been awarded FIFA badges for the 2011 year by the world soccer governing body.

The list comprises four men referees and seven assistants, while there is also one women referee and two assistant referees.

The Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) Acting General Secretary Sunday Kayuni named those who have been awarded the full referee badges as Ibada Ramadhan Kibo, Mbaga Oden Charles, Israel Nkongo, and Waziri Sheha.

Bulali Josephati Deu, Hamis Chang'walu, Kanyenye Rongional John, Clemence Erasmo Jesse, Kombo Ally, Maswa Hamisi, Mpenzu Samuel Hudson are the assistant referees considered.

Gamba Judith Andrew is the only full woman referee considered, whereas Makame Mwanahija Foum and Tibabimale Saada Hussein have secured women assistant referee badges.


Source: allAfrica.com.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All I Want for Christmas is ...

Screenshot Courtesy EA Mobile
FIFA 11 goes live for iPad

EA Mobile has released FIFA 11 for iPad, just in time for Christmas. Although if you're on a slower broadband connection, you might want to start downloading it now to ensure it's playable by 25 December - it's a whopping 890MB download.

As you'd expect from FIFA, there are bags of fully-licensed teams to play - 500 from around the world - and 35 gloriously-HD stadia to do it in. It has to be said, too, that the game looks amazing on the iPad screen. ...

Full review continues here, courtesy recombu.com.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

No news yet on who's managing US Referees, but ...

... the contact page at US Soccer has changed a bit.

Take a look here.

Any guesses anyone?

Monday, December 20, 2010

“The most annoying player”

So says Claus Bo Larsen, FIFA referee since 1996, of Cristiano Ronaldo from a goal.com article here.

Take a look at the article however as it goes on to say that:
“Cristiano Ronaldo is given a clean slate at the start of every game, but when he would lie down after failing to win a free-kick, he would smile at me because he knows I don’t fall for his theatrics.”
Now *THAT* is refereeing at the highest levels. Know what is coming, talk with the players, and react (not prejudge) when an incident occurs.

Another outstanding FIFA refereeing talent retiring this month.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Nobel Prize?

The NYT had a very interesting article about Blatter's recent visit to Qatar after their victory in securing the 2022 World Cup.

Most of this article spoke about his recent gaffe regarding homosexuals and just how revealing it was of the man himself.

In addition to this, there was a piece that caught my eye. From the article:
This gaffe may take him even further from the Nobel Peace Prize, which he has been lusting after for years. A Nobel Peace Prize for doling out soccer tournaments under murky circumstances, and occasionally prattling about fair play?
Are you [bleeping] me?

Is this pol really in the hunt for a Nobel Peace Prize?
He's kidding, right?

After poking around though, it would seem he is serious ... or at least he is reported to be, from a variety of sources. (ioL Sport, 7am Kickoff, SI.com)

Reaction to this was fairly visceral:
Excuse me while I vomit in the nearest available bucket.
Quoted one article ... and I share the sentiment.

Maybe we got the reason wrong for the abrupt shift for 2022 to Qatar. It may not have been money after all, but pride.

If Sepp winds up with a Nobel, I would have to say that was the primary reason, not the petrodollars currently under suspicion.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Celebrating an outstanding career, and a friend

December is a special time of year for many. It includes holidays and the drawing of the year to a close, which is often time for reflection and rejuvenation.

For me personally it is a reminder of getting older as my birthday is in December. This is true of a friend of mine as well, who turns 45 this year.

Now early in my life there was nothing magic about turning 45, other than it was a long, long way away. But in my recent past, turning 45 meant the required end of any journey I would have taken on the FIFA panel.

There was no such journey for me personally ... however there was for Tom Supple FIFA AR. This month is his 45th birthday and his mandatory retirement from the pinnacle of refereeing, the FIFA panel.

I write this not to evoke a sadness in anyone, nor regret in myself for never "taking the plunge", it is rather to celebrate a storied career of one of the best AR's in modern times of THE game, and pay tribute to a friend.

Tom is in the first generation of referees to traverse the entire system in US Soccer, from youth matches to the international game. Prior to this generation, referees were generally molded in amateur leagues around various states and then, if there was a professional league at the time, put to the test there. If these referees were able to survive that gambit, then the very lucky were asked to join the FIFA panel as a referee, and potentially on to other assignments as well such as those within CONCACAF or even a World Cup.

David Socha
Refereeing legends such as David Socha who whistled at (2) World Cups (1982 and 1986) were of such ilk. Others such as Vinnie Mauro, Angelo Bratsis, Alfred Kleinaitis, and Ed Bellion who were on the FIFA panel in the 1990's were in similar standing.

As with other referees today, Tom was required to start literally in his backyard, on the South Shore of Massachusetts. Youth matches were the staple of his refereeing diet and included all levels of the game at local leagues, and the occasional club match in various parts of the state.

It wasn't long before Tom was recognized for his superior refereeing ability and was invited to local tournaments, and others such as the Massachusetts State Cup, as well as a host of other, out of state, prestigious assignments.

By this time, Tom and I had met and were working very regularly on the South Shore at the South Shore Sports Center in Hingham, MA under the gentle tutelage and ageless wisdom of Wally Russell.

It wasn't long before he was thrown head first into the various ethnic leagues the state had to offer as he would share stories of the crazy events of the day that would often include a great match, and an escort from a detail officer off the field.

By now Tom's youth career was in full bloom as he attended the Region I championships in 1993, 94, 95, 96, and was selected to complete his US Youth career in Indiana at the US Youth Soccer Nationals. Tom's adult career at this point included mostly top level amateur and professional matches from the A-League and D-3.

Almost on cue, MLS began in 1995 and Tom was one of the referees selected to start from year 1. As was typical, referees such as Tom that were state referees were assigned as 4th officials and JAR in matches. 
Tom Supple: NE v. Miami circa June 1999
As had been his hallmark his whole career, Tom excelled in his role, and was selected for the AR track at the professional level. Take note however, this also meant a fair number of matches carrying a whistle, and as I discussed recently, he can whistle a match just as good as any FIFA referee I know.

After attaining his National Badge in 1999 he continued to distinguish himself in MLS. So much so, he was appointed to the FIFA AR panel in 2004. Now 9 years in MLS, Tom was on the world's stage.

From there, as with his other accomplishments, he excelled. His assignments at this point consisted of professional, international friendly, international, and World Cup qualifying matches as he traveled throughout CONCACAF ... and the world.

So here we are on the eve of his retirement, 25+ years later, FIFA AR, 15 year MLS veteran, and just one heck of a referee all the way around. I'll be honest though, this is not even half of the story, not by a long shot.

The real story is the quality person Tom is and how much he has sacrificed of his very essence for THE game. He took us all on this fantastic ride for so long. Coast to coast, U-6 to international stage. A truly fantastic voyage.

Some may ask, heck he may ask, things like:
Now what?
Was it worth it?

While I certainly can't answer those things, I can say that through every fiber of by being just one thing with absolute certainty ...

He earned it.

He is a FIFA referee, and shall be held as such for life. For some, that badge itself is a means to an end. For me, after spending a lifetime thinking and dreaming about it, I find it a fleeting honor in the grand scheme. It's not the badge, it's that guy behind that badge that means the most.

And that guy is Tom Supple.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Homosexuals need not attend 2022 World Cup - Blatter

I don't know what else to say except, "wow."

After all how does one rationalize what FIFA President, Sepp Blatter said (even jokingly) at a Monday (13-DEC) press conference in South Africa, of prospective gay fans: "I would say they should refrain from any sexual activities."

This because homosexual acts are illegal in Qatar.

Maybe Sepp is just trying to be the emissary of the 2022 World Cup and let everyone know what to expect?

Maybe Sepp was just hosing down the pitch with testosterone to keep up with South African President Jacob Zuma, who has said at the same press conference that, "When I was growing up, a (insert "homosexual" slur here) would not have stood in front of me. I would have knocked him out."

Nice.

The president of FIFA and the president of South Africa ... what a fitting couple.

As you can imagine there is a backlash to these comments from a variety of sources, and an interesting article is here from the WSJ about the whole situation.

This will however be an interesting mix in 2022 ... culture for cash. We will see just how far people in Qatar are willing to trade their way of life for sponsorship dollars ... at least for a month (in January??).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Observations from State Referee Recertification Clinic

I stopped in at a recertification session for State referees this past Sunday in Westboro. It is a requirement for anyone holding a state badge in Massachusetts. It was well attended, with most of the state referees in attendance, as well as all of the National referees who helped out.

Observation #1: There is a prevailing undercurrent that things should be laid out and made easy for the referees. Several people were heard to say things like, "They should..." or, "There should be..." (with the rest of the sentence containing the suggestion of what someone else should be doing to make the referees' lives easier). Good suggestions to be sure, but hardly anyone started a sentence with, "We should..." or preferably even, "I should..." I'll be the first to acknowledge that refereeing is a difficult and often thankless job, but did we lose our sense of responsibility somewhere along the way?

Observation #2: Many in the room struggled to catch the nuances of the Laws, especially with regard to things that rarely if ever happen in the match. Some of the more obscure questions on the written exam were dismissed as nonsensical and not important enough to worry about. No doubt most referees may never have to deal with a crazy spectator who comes onto the field to prevent the scoring of a goal, but wouldn't it be nice to know you can when and if it happens? Anybody can handle the common stuff. Better referees are going to prepare for the unusual events which inevitably occur when least expected.

Observation #3: There is a lot of pride in that room. When asked if they wanted to downgrade their fellow officials who did not attend the clinic, the overwhelming sentiment was yes. Being a State Referee requires annual assessments, fitness training, clinic attendance and even a financial commitment that is significantly more than the rest of the population. These people generally have the soccer culture firmly embedded in their souls. They want to keep the standards high. We should be happy to have them representing our state.

Great tackle ... by the coach

So for those who follow grid iron football, and especially those who follow the AFC East, we were treated to a very interesting incident in the contest between the NY Jets and Miami Dolphins. The incident was reported by several outlets (ESPN here) and details NY Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi intentionally tripping Miami cornerback Nolan Carroll during punt coverage as he ran out of bounds. Carroll required some brief medical attention after the incident.

Now, regarding this incident (and I am not going to hide my feelings here), this coward was suspended for the remainder of the season, and fined $25,000 (source). [Please take note that the fine for this coach for this single incident was more than the fine of both Spain and the Netherlands combined for their entire teams during the World Cup final.] While this is a good start, Alosi should also lose his job for doing something so monumentally stupid that place a player in genuine jeopardy.

He of course was remorseful for his actions, and I believe that was genuine, however for me there is only so much afterthought that can be given credit for an absolute lack of forethought.

With that as a stage, what happens if this occurs at a soccer match? What is the decision here?

Keep in mind the incident occurred OUTSIDE THE FIELD, AND AWAY FROM PLAY, or should that even matter?

For the moment let's assume that a brawl did not break out as a result of the incident (as some Miami players would have liked), and the referee did see the incident (as opposed to what happened in this game), and a player simply ran out of bounds as part of play and was tripped by a coach standing out of bounds.

For this answer I am using the 2010/2011 LOTG found here, and 2009/2010 Advice found here.

First, is there anything wrong with the player leaving the field? After all the player "left the field" without permission of the referee, is that a caution as required by Law 12 (p.26 LOTG)?

In this case, no. See section 3.9 of the Advice which states that this conduct is acceptable, if during the normal course of play and not for a tactical advantage. Note, there are exceptions for other situations as discussed in the LOTG and Advice.

So it would seem the player was playing, even if off the field, and the coach was off the field ... it is a foul?
In other words, should we start with a free kick for a foul?

Here too the answer is a clear no, as the opposing coach (who tripped the player) is not an "opponent" as required to be a foul for law 12. From p. 25 of the LOTG a foul would lie if one "kicks or attempts to trip an opponent." Please note, "an opponent" is interpreted to be "an opponent player", while I can make an argument that this coach is "an opponent", and the laws are NOT clear in making the distinction between an opponent (such as a coach) or an opponent player, just roll with me here and know I mean a player.

Can we even stop the game then? After all we have an incident outside the field by people other than players. Where do we have the authority to do this, and should we?

A clear yes is the case here as from Law 5 p.16 the referee may:
"stops, suspends or abandons the match because of outside interference of any kind."

 So we are allowed to do this, but should we?

My answer here is YOU BETTER. If you see it, and it was intentional act by a coach, substitute, whatever ... deal with it right then. Otherwise, the players will. Now the physics of the situation can change greatly based on venue, level and so on. My though here is to stop the game and deal with it, or have those tasked to deal with it (e.g. local staff) deal with it.

Is there a misconduct for the coach?

You betcha. That coach should be "expelled" (note I did not say, "get sent off"), and not return. The LOTG do not have allowances for "send off" a coach per se. That misconduct is reserved for players. See Law 5 p.16 for the distinction.

What is the coach "expelled" for?

Directly from LOTG, Law 5 p.16:
"takes action against team officials who fail to conduct themselves in a responsible manner and may, at his discretion, expel them from the field of play and its immediate surrounds."

So coaches and staff are "expelled" for failing to conduct themselves in a "responsible manner." If you find yourself in this spot, use these magic words on the match report.

So all of this out of the way, how do we restart the match?
Section 5.19 of the Advice is INVALUABLE for this type of question. So look at the table, and let's review.

The offense was committed against an opponent or any other person, off the field. (Row 2, Column 4)

The restart is a drop ball at the spot where the ball was when play was stopped. (Row 3, Column 4)

And this makes sense too from a "fairness" perspective. As this took place outside the field, by an outside agent (a coach), it stands to reason it would be a drop ball. It is NOT a foul (so no free kick), and there was no foul by a player (such as leaving the field without permission), so there should be no free kick for such. Note however, if the ball was out of play, you begin with the appropriate restart. (Column 5)

Our friends at Ask A Soccer Referee have tackled variations on this theme, and their answer is here.

And before you think this can't happen ... check out below (or here if video does not work)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

IOC Inquiry Closing

Olympic chief sees corruption probe over in months

GENEVA — Olympic chief Jacques Rogge said on Monday that the IOC's own inquiry into senior sports officials, triggered by allegations of corruption at FIFA, should be completed within months.

"The commission is working with due diligence it's definitely not something that's for tomorrow but it will not, in my humble opinion, last for months," Rogge told journalists.

The International Olympic Committee seized its ethics commission two weeks ago to examine evidence from a BBC report that targeted three senior executive officials at world football's governing body FIFA. ...

Full story continues here, courtesy of AFP.

Monday, December 13, 2010

CONCACAF has the news ...

... but where is the US Soccer announcement on Brian's promotion?

NEW YORK - Former World Cup veteran Brian Hall has been appointed to the newly created position of CONCACAF director of referee administration, and will assume his new post at the confederation's New York headquarters on Monday.

The 49-year-old Hall officiated matches at the amateur and professional level for more than 30 years and was a four-time recipient of U.S. Major League Soccer's Referee of the Year award. He will work in conjunction with the CONCACAF Referee Committee and the FIFA Referee Assistance Program on the appointment, scheduling and assessment of referees. ...

See the CONCACAF site for the full story.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Brian Hall to Join CONCACAF

Hall Appointed CONCACAF Director Of Referee Administration

Former World Cup veteran Brian Hall has been appointed to the newly created position of CONCACAF director of referee administration, and will assume his new post at the confederation’s New York headquarters on Monday.

The 49-year-old Hall officiated matches at the amateur and professional level for more than 30 years and was a four-time recipient of U.S. Major League Soccer’s Referee of the Year award. He will work in conjunction with the CONCACAF Referee Committee and the FIFA Referee Assistance Program on the appointment, scheduling and assessment of referees.

See the fill story here, courtesy of PaddockTalk.

Kicking Back comments:
Well ... for those of us affected or who follow US Soccer there are (2) burning questions in my head now.

1. Who is going to lead the US Soccer referee program? As I have stated before there seems to be a real lack of administration at the US Soccer level for referees. I can think of one name (and will reserve it for now ... but he would be perfect) but short of that it would seem the USS US Soccer referee program is going adrift. I hope that come January 1, 2011 there are some announcements to shore up this lack of direction.

2. Can Brian make a dent in FIFA's thinking to get a referee to the World Cup? While there have been others from the US in positions at CONCACAF and FIFA, I would opine their efforts in the past have been marginal getting the exposure to only some of the referees who are able to compete on the world stage. Recently (as in WC 2010) these efforts have been poor and while I exclude performance of individual referees in this analysis (which is a factor) word on the street is while the US had some folks who were considered for the tournament, there was little or no backing from our countrymen in FIFA that killed any chance entirely.   

Overall this is a great appointment not only for Brian, but also for US Soccer referees. While the US has been a part of FIFA and CONCACAF for some time, it is my hope Brian's mesh of refereeing talent and empathy, as well as his management savvy and business acumen serve US referees well in the future.

By the way ... not a peep yet from the US Soccer web site. I would have thought something this good for US referees, they would want to get out straight away.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Platini to petition IFAB for 5 man extension

FIFA SEEKS APPROVAL OF 5 MAN REFEREE SYSTEM AT EURO 2012

PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- UEFA's 2012 European Championship tournament could be played using an experimental system of five match officials promoted by its president Michel Platini.

Platini's executive committee agreed Friday to ask again for permission from FIFA's rules-making panel.

The panel, known as IFAB, limited five-referee trials to club football when it met in July. It approved the system for UEFA's Champions League and Europa League competitions until 2012. ...

Full story here, courtesy of TSN.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A little slice of home

Brazen Blazer the perfect FIFA fit

10 December ~ Transparency at FIFA has been a big talking point since the usual shady shenanigans surrounding the World Cup hosting allocation process led to what many see as an unhappy result, especially with regard to plucky outsider Qatar’s winning bid. But not everyone on the FIFA executive committee is completely secretive about the way they operate. Concacaf general secretary Chuck Blazer loves a good twitter, and runs a blog documenting his travels as a football functionary. It’s an instructive read, right enough.

Blazer loves to come across as the cheerful, chubby clown by posting pictures of himself in ridiculous Halloween get-up, or wearing a Santa hat. When you laugh at yourself, the joke’s on those who laugh at you. And, as he told Sports Business Journal earlier this year, when he reads or hears negative things about himself – such as the time during FIFA’s court case with Mastercard in 2006 when a New York judge described his testimony as “fabricated” and lacking credibility – “I shrug at it.” When you’ve got an apartment in Trump Tower and you’re travelling first class around the world, you’re pretty much untouchable. Why care what others think? ...

Full story continues here, at WSC.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A textbook definition

Kicking Back Comments:

willful blindness. Deliberate avoidance of knowledge of a crime, esp. by failing to make a reasonable inquiry about suspected wrongdoing despite being aware that it is highly probable. • A person acts with willful blindness, for example, by deliberately refusing to look inside an unmarked package after being paid by a known drug dealer to deliver it. Willful blindness creates an inference of knowledge of the crime in question. See Model Penal Code § 2. [Cases: Criminal Law 20, 314. C.J.S. Criminal Law §§ 31-33, 35-39, 700; Negligence § 913.]

BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY 1630 (8th ed. 2004)


FIFA's Sepp Blatter Denies World Cup Corruption, Says England Is Bad Loser

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said there’s no proof to support media allegations of corruption in the award of World Cups to Russia and Qatar, Swiss weekly Weltwoche reported. He also said England was a bad loser.

FIFA, soccer’s ruling body, has tightened its accounting and now follows International Financial Reporting Standards principles, making corruption “simply impossible,” he told the magazine.

The executive also criticized the reaction of England, whose bid executives and media complained after losing out to Russia in the bid for 2018, Weltwoche said. England lost in the first round of balloting with just two votes. ...

Full story continues here, courtesy of Bloomberg.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Upgrade Kudos

As we have done here in the past, I would like again to congratulate the following referee who has recently been upgraded.

Congratulations to Omar Tizi-ougdal!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The gloves are coming off

FIFA chiefs out of The Dorchester

Boris Johnson has taken revenge on Sepp Blatter and the other FIFA delegates who destroyed England’s bid to host the World Cup by kicking them out of London’s Dorchester hotel for the 2012 Olympic Games.

FIFA president Mr Blatter and his team had been invited to stay in exclusive £1,000-a-night suites at the five-star hotel for more than a week during the Olympics. ...

Full story continues here, courtesy of Mail Online.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Inside Story - What was Fifa thinking?

Courtesy of AlJazeera (English) as seen on You Tube.

Kicking Back comments:
Admittedly while I generally do not use this media outlet, this particular program was very interesting.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

More Anti-US Sentiment ... from Qatar

From the Gulf Times seen here:
“I am not interested in football at all, and believe that it is getting more world attention than it really deserves. But when the voting process put Qatar against the US, I hoped that Qatar would win,” Sheikh Qaradawi said in his Friday sermon at the Omar bin al-Khattab mosque at Khalifa South town. The US president had said that FIFA had taken a “wrong decision”. It was a very bad comment by Obama. This means that he was intervening in a decision that should be made through voting. It seems that America wants to have the monopoly on everything in the world from politics to sports,” Qaradawi said.

England Declares War With FIFA

England set to go to war with FIFA after 2018 World Cup vote snub

FURIOUS England last night began their backlash against double-crossing FIFA chiefs for the 2018 World Cup bidding shambles.

FA chairman-elect Roger Burden announced he’s quitting before even taking up the role he was due to fill later this month – because he can’t trust FIFA executives.

And England have also pulled the plug on June’s friendly in Thailand as they prepare to substantially scale back their international goodwill
commitments and try to form a “coalition of the good guys” in world football.

Burden, infuriated by several FIFA bigwigs who promised their vote to England before reneging at the last minute, made his shock quit announcement in an open letter to FA Board members. ...

Full story continues here, courtesy of the Daily Record.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The morning after

Well folks here we are together again. Here are some thoughts about yesterdays World Cup voting.

Please note, these are personal opinions and should not reflect on any organization I represent in any way.

Just to recap here were my predictions:

2018:
1. Russia
2. England
3. Iberia (Spain/Portugal)
4. Belgium/Netherlands

2022:
1. USA
2. Australia
3. Qatar
4. Japan
5. Korea Republic

As we have learned here were the actual results from FIFA:

2018:
1. Russia
2. Iberia (Spain/Portugal)
3. Belgium/Netherlands
4. England

2022:
1. Qatar
2. USA
3. Korea Republic
4. Japan
5. Australia
Two things are clear from comparing the two to me, in hindsight.

First, I tremendously underestimated the vitriolic rubbish FIFA can spew and just how insular they all are. Let's think about it for just a second. England is the modern creator of football, and had one of, if not the, best bid for 2018, yet only garnered 2 votes and were knocked out after the first round of voting. The England bid committee is bent, and I don't blame them. Not because they lost, and not because of what the BBC press did in uncovering systemic corruption in FIFA (in fact I applaud it, and they too are holding their heads high), but rather in the bold face lies that the FIFA EXCOMM told them throughout the process. With this I agree with the England bid team, the FIFA EXCOMM needs to have the fortitude to tell the truth, but am not surprised some took the cowards way out.

Second, I underestimated the political component of the bidding. I can not explain the Qatar vote too many other ways. Yes there can be bold faced corruption. One article stated, tongue in cheek, that the reason the presentation started about 30 minutes late was the tire burst on the wheel barrel Mr. Blatter was using to transport cash to his bank account courtesy of Qatar. A softer view may be that as Mr. Blatter departs as president of FIFA he has brought football to places in the world that may have never dreamed of it in their lifetime. Japan, Korea, Africa, and now Russia and the first ever World Cup in the Middle East.

There is a less soft side to this as well and it is that the US may again be shunned by the world as we continue to lose stature on the world's stage, not just with FIFA. In particular is there a possibility for some of the US's current popular views on Islam to be a cause for this? I agree this may be a bridge too far, but I don't discount it. Is this "the world" telling the US "we accept Islam, you should too?" Maybe it is really just the money as Qatar may be a foothold into a very wealthy region of the world.

After all, some had said that the US had the best bid, and the least risky certainly as compared to Qatar who has the most risky bid. Or was it the fact that Qatar is said to be dedicating all the used stadias to poor countries? Did FIFA ignore that the US is one of the most generous countries is the world for giving to such organizations? We could go head to head all day and get more mystified by the choice.

Was it just time for something different?
Something creative from FIFA?

We may never know for sure, but as I sit here, it may just be a little of everything that did not go our way.

I will say there are some folks who have ideas about it though ... from Twitter:


... and yes, that one is the real LD. Ouch.


... and no, that is not the real Blatter ... but it is funny.

So what now? Should US Soccer take some action on the bid committee that spent millions on a landslide vote that did not go our way?

That one may just happen on its own.

Let's take the US Soccer referee program as an example (this result does not help us to get a referee to a future World Cup by the way ... never mind the screw-ups within US Soccer that may have caused that in 2010), here is a list of folks who are out or on their way out ... yes folks you heard some of it here first.

Esse Baharmast
Brian Hall
Julia ILaqua
Dave McKee
Paul Tamberino (and getting sued on the way too)
Dick Triche

If this is any indication, we may soon see an exodus from US Soccer corporate as well. This has to be a particular poor result for the US Soccer business in general, and a head or two may roll as a result.

For our part, we will continue to learn from THE game and grow from it, in our backyards, and yes, even in Russia and Qatar.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

And the winners are ...

As seen here live just a few moments ago FIFA decided where the crown jewel of tournaments will be played for the next 12 years.

As we have learned already, Brazil will be hosting the 2014 World Cup.

For the rest Mr. Blatter was brief in his opening comments saying notably that, "... football is a school of life where you learn to lose."

To be sure there were losers this day and chief among them was England as the 2018 World Cup will be hosted by Russia.

Also a loser is the United States as Qatar will be hosting the 2022 World Cup.

I'll say that I am half stunned, not in FIFA's choice of Russia as it is clear to me that they were going to punish England for the acts of their press, but am somewhat surprised about the choice of Qatar.

It makes me wonder if FIFA went politically correct run amok as FIFA wants to appease the Middle East, or if FIFA took the time to stick it to the US at the same time.

Stay tuned for more reactions ... as I am sure there will be some significant ones.

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Kicking Back's take: Mr. Putin is trying really hard to make sure FIFA does not get confused between England and Russia and giving the EXCOMM a clear choice between those who are "friends of FIFA", and "those who are not."

It all smacks a bit hollow to me as "election fraud", and Putin would seem to go hand in hand. 

Putin Sees Conspiracy in Criticism of FIFA

MOSCOW — Russia’s prime minister, Vladimir V. Putin, responded angrily to allegations of corruption in world soccer’s governing body on Wednesday, suggesting that some members of the body were being “smeared” in an effort to undermine his country’s bid to host the World Cup in 2018.

Russia has been locked in a battle with England and several other countries for the right to host the World Cup, and political intrigue has intensified in the run-up to the vote in Switzerland scheduled for Thursday, which will also decide the host of the 2022 tournament. A public affairs program broadcast on the BBC this week accused officials from FIFA, soccer’s governing body, of taking kickbacks and other wrongdoing, the latest in a spate of similar allegations.

“Regretfully, we have recently witnessed an obvious campaign against some members of the FIFA Executive Committee,” Putin said at a cabinet meeting in Moscow. ...

Full story continues here, courtesy of the NYT.

Want to see the bids themselves ...

... all you have to do is go here. Courtesy of FIFA.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

PK's Predictions

Programming note:
This release is going out earlier than usual to avoid any conflict with the actual decisions as I am curious to see how close we come to the actual decisions from FIFA.

So here we are on the precipice of the decisions for the next two World Cups. All the parties are gathering in Zurich as we speak and practices are occurring in the lead up to the final presentations before the FIFA committee, sans (2) voting members.

Here is the schedule of events for this week at FIFA. Interesting to me is that the 2022 bids are coming first, and the 2018 bids last, also the order of the bidding countries.

My predictions for 2022 (Australia, Korea Republic, Qatar, United States, Japan):

Courtesy gousabid.com
The winner: United States ... but only by a nose. I don't think it's the star power such as Morgan Freeman and Bill Clinton that will be joining the bid team that pushes this over the edge for them. At the end of the day, I believe this is about two things, money and infrastructure. You could even say they are the same thing and it comes down to money.

At the end of the day, lets face it, FIFA is a business, and business is there to make money. There would be no greater opportunity to do so than the US. While Japan and Korea are in a similar boat in ability to make money, there are logistic and political issues in play, as well as just recently being there, that make this choice, I believe, less attractive than others to FIFA.

My runner up is Australia. I think the "Socceroos" made a significant impact in 2010 and this, along with the available infrastructure and climate, make it a runner up to the US. Additionally I believe that FIFA would do well in Australia as far as the ability to make money.

Finally I think Qatar takes 3rd in the voting as while I don't discount FIFA's desire to "share the Cup with the world", there are many things no going Qatar's way when stacked up with these others. Climate is among them as Chuck Blazer's comments about air conditioning a whole country ring true. Infrastructure and political climate is another reason that may militate away from hosting the Cup. Some would say, neither is particularly well developed for the influx of tourists that would flock to the tiny country for the event.

My predictions for 2018 (Belgium/Netherlands, Spain/Portugal, England, Russia):
The winner: Russia ... again by a nose. This time the issue, I believe, is much simpler, and has to do with ego and pride.

FIFA does not like being challenged. This much has been clear in the days just behind us. Their ethics investigation, while good, was painful for them. Even in the face of new bribery allegations, those involved have scoffed off the allegations and FIFA itself has stated it will not open an investigation. It would seem clear that FIFA just doesn't want to hear about it at this point.

For this FIFA will make England pay dearly for the actions of its independent press, and not allow England the honor of hosting the Cup in 2018 through not voting for who I believe should be the host in 2018.

FIFA has already set themselves up well for this decision trotting out excuse after excuse as to why England should not be allowed to host, paving the way for a not so stunning rejection, should it occur.

My runner up is England however, as there seems to be some level heads on the FIFA EXCOMM and those heads will point to the deserving host, England.

From there, I believe Iberia comes next with a few votes, but also with concerns about unrest in the years ahead as the economic issues of Ireland in 2010 are likely to infect the other smaller European countries in the years ahead. Again, this will impact the ability for FIFA to make money.

Lastly comes the Belgium/Netherlands bid, and the difficulties it would have with logistics and the like in the face of the more powerful bids such as Russia and England.

I am sure these last hours that set the course of international football for the next 12 years will be fascinating, and after the vote, you'll see our take here.