Monday, December 26, 2011

Programming Note - Holiday Version


Friends,

Over the next couple of weeks I will be in studio creating audio for "Two Minute Tips." If all goes according to plan, you will start to see a weekly audio episode starting January 7th, 2012 here and in iTunes.

Each episode will be two minutes in length and is intended to be those little nuggets you get after your formal assessment that can help you in the right scenario.

To be sure, even the most beautiful pearl of wisdom starts as a grain of sand or other irritant, so bear with me as we find our way together.

In all events, enjoy your holiday season, and I will see you all on the other side of the break.

Thanks for reading,
PK

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Bicycle

The police departments of many cities hold annual auctions to get rid of seized and unclaimed property. Some of the stuff is repossessed, some comes from estates, some is stolen and discarded, or just found on the streets in public places. There is a wide assortment of items, everything from entire houses to knick-knacks for the mantle. Art work is in good supply. There is always plenty of electronic equipment and cameras, and lots of cars.

And usually a fair number of bicycles.

So it was that a young boy of 11 found himself at the police auction one day. He waited patiently for the paintings, cameras and home furnishings to be sold off. Eventually it was time for the bicycles.

The first bike to be auctioned was a beat-up old cruiser with more than a few dings and two well worn tires. It had been abandoned at a popular dumpsite near the river. The young boy immediately came to life and registered his first bid, of $5. The bidding continued, but the boy did not bid again, and the bike was sold for $16.

Several more bikes were wheeled onto the block, each one getting a little newer and nicer than the one before. The boy’s bidding pattern was repeated. With each bike, he registered a bid of $5, but as each bike’s price climbed, the boy stopped bidding.

Finally, the last bike to be auctioned was wheeled to the stage. It was a shiny, almost new ten-speed in immaculate condition, with a titanium frame and racing saddle. It had been taken from a drug dealer’s house.
The boy looked on dejectedly, knowing this bike would also be well out of his price range.

There was an almost imperceptible pause and a subtle murmur in the audience, as the auctioneer cleared his throat and opened the bidding on the last bike. By this time the boy was slumped in his chair, head down, and his perfunctory $5 bid was barely audible.

The auctioneer repeated his call for additional bids, yet none were forthcoming. Surely someone would give more than five dollars for a bike that was worth a hundred times that amount. The boy pulled his head up and looked around the audience. Everyone in the room looked back and smiled, but nobody bid. Going once…going twice…SOLD to the young man in the back for $5!

And so it was that an eleven year-old boy with only $5 to his name took home the best bike in the house, due to the collective kindness of a room full of complete strangers.

Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Can't they just shake hands?

Poyet backs Suarez "to the death"

Former Uruguay international Gustavo Poyet says he backs countryman Luis Suarez "to the death" after the Liverpool striker was banned for eight matches for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.

Poyet, who spent 19 years playing in England with Chelsea, Tottenham and Swindon, labelled the FA's punishment "shocking and disproportionate" and insisted Suarez had suffered from cultural differences between England and Uruguay. ...

See the whole article here, courtesy of ESPN.

Kicking Back Comments: Where is Sepp when you need him? Mr. Racism things this can be washed away with a handshake? Why didn't the FA just make the guys shake hands? That would have solved it, right?

Wrong.

I actually think Suarez is the unlucky victim of an FA message to FIFA that "racism will not be tolerated." Even taken at face value the punishment may be seen as excessive, FA is sending the message that "if FIFA won't deal with it, we will."

The FA certainly has an axe to grind with FIFA, and this may just have been the latest installment.

Well that was quick

FIFA's new governance committee under fire for lack of transparency and independence

Even before their first meeting, the newly appointed members of FIFA's Independent Governance Committte (IGC) have received an indication of the scrutiny their work will face. Committee members are being criticised for not being independent enough of FIFA, whilst organisations like Transparency International and Football Supports Europe have declined to join the committee. ...

See the whole article here from PlayTheGame.

Kicking Back Comments: My knee-jerk reaction was a yawn as I have come to expect this from FIFA.

On closer inspection however there are some interesting things from the article, like Sunil Guliti is a member of the IGC. Hmmmmm ... FIFA throwing the US a bone of some type, or just another useless committee?

Also, from the article:
"In another blog post, Pielke points to the problems it raises for the committee and its president Mark Pieth that is has not disclosed that FIFA paid Pieth an amount of $128,000 and more than $5,000 per day to produce an initial report for FIFA."

Wow ... it's good to be a FIFA lacky.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Why the red card? The goalkeeper played the ball (of the fan).

For those who have not seen, check out the video below of Ajax and AZ Alkmaar, where Costa Rican international Esteban Alvarado fought back against a pitch invader in the 37th minute of the match, and was sent off by the referee for kicking the 19-year-old fan to the ground.



My sole question is simple. Do the LOTG support the Alvarado send off?
My sole answer is even simpler. Yes.

So where does it say that?
Let's start in Law 12 under "Sending-off Offenses." There are (7) of them, any come to mind?

One answer may be "serious foul play." Does that work?
Absolutely not.

Why you ask? Because serious foul play is reserved for when the ball is in play (which this was), but the action has to be committed against an opponent, inside the field of play, during play, when challenging for the ball. Most of these last requirements were not met.

How about "violent conduct?" That to me is how this one should be written up as it meets the requirements which are (from the LOTG, with my emphasis in bold.):

Violent conduct
A player is guilty of violent conduct if he uses excessive force or brutality against an opponent when not challenging for the ball.

He is also guilty of violent conduct if he uses excessive force or brutality against a team-mate, spectator, match official or any other person.

Violent conduct may occur either on the field of play or outside its boundaries, whether the ball is in play or not.


There are a couple of things to note here. First, you can't send off a fan. Cautions and send-offs are for players and substitutes ONLY. A referee can take action on "team officials" however they are "expel(led)", not "sent off." A fan is in the purview of the local authorities.

A referee has a duty however to "stops, suspends or abandons the match because of outside interference of any kind", and "ensures that no unauthorized persons enter the field of play." So while the Alkmaar coach took his players off the field (and I agree with him), the referee had the power to do the same. Also, and as a practical matter, referees at this level cede authority of preventing unauthorized access to the field to the local authorities as well.

I'm going to offer an opinion on this one and say I agree 100% with the referee.

Why you ask?

Because if the player pushed the fan away and that was it, even landed a shot (as Alvarado did) to get the guy off him, no problem. No caution, no nothing, just drop the ball (for the outside interference) and get on with it. At that level I may also have a chat with security at halftime (8 minutes away) to get a better security presence or I may abandon the match.

BUT, when Alvarado took not one, but two nasty kicks at another who was on the ground and defenseless, he had to go. This referee IMHO did exactly the right thing is removing brutal behavior from The Game. Yes, it was provoked by an attack on the Goalkeeper, and yes, it could have ended when the fan was on the pitch and the alternate referee came in to grab him, and yes violence needs to be removed from The Game, not just player on player.

Need another example of violent conduct? Here is a great one. This guy didn't even leave the stands.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

2011: Year of FIFA scandals

London - Soccer in 2011 was dominated by events off the field rather than on it.

Barcelona and Lionel Messi continued to provide some of the most sparkling performances in the sport's long history and Uruguay further overshadowed Brazil and Argentina at the top of the South American game, but headlines around the world were dominated by allegations of corruption and bribery at FIFA.

The sport's governing body was beset by allegations as behind-the-scenes politicking was thrust into the spotlight by the fallout from its 2010 decision to give future World Cup tournaments to Russia and Qatar. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of Sport24.

Kicking Back Comments: A sad state of affairs really. Once can only hope that 2012 will bring much needed change to governance of The Game.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

NEVER Touch A Youth Player

Don't believe me, ask Mike Milbury.

Milbury sought in Pee Wee altercation

Former Bruins player and coach Mike Milbury may face charges for allegedly grabbing and shaking a 12-year-old boy after a Pee Wee hockey game, according to Brookline police. The incident occurred Dec. 9 after an exhibition game between the Boston Jr. Blackhawks and the Boch Blazers at Jack Kirrane Ice Skating Rink in Larz Anderson Park. ...

See the whole article here, from the Boston Globe.

Kicking Back Comments: So let me begin by saying I am not  commenting on the case itself as it will bear itself out in the days ahead.

More relevant is the clear message that you can't put your hands on a youth player, regardless of your intent. Now, amateur and pro players are a different ball of wax, but the youth, don't do it. No matter how well intentioned, no matter how well natured, no matter what, don't do it.

It may be for all the right reasons such as to help a player up, to break up a fight, to attend to an injury. DON'T DO IT.

One time, you are going to run into a crazy parent who will, regardless of your intent, demonize you and press charges calling it a battery (you have to make contact for a battery, an assault is just putting someone in fear of being touched), just don't do it.

Keep in mind too, everyone has a smart phone, everyone has a camera, and will collect "evidence" that will be used against you, and your insurance company in a court if law, a tort action, or just to make you miserable. DON'T DO IT.

As sad as it makes me to say that, it continues to be clear that people are not looking at the big picture of one person trying to help another, but what "harm" has come to their child.

Save yourself the trouble, and don't touch a youth player, ever.


Need a video example ... take a look immediately below. Listen to the comments from the stands too.



On a side note with the case, the Brookline PD did not do themselves any favors in commenting. From the article:

"Brookline police captain Thomas Keaveney said that with four children that have played sports, it doesn’t surprise him to receive reports a former professional hockey player getting involved in an alleged assault.

“I’ve seen a lot of irresponsible things done by adults and Mike Milbury is no different in my mind,’’ said Keaveney."


Now if I am Milbury's lawyer I am bring this front and center about bias toward his client that the Brookline PD has. Now in his playing days he was no angel as you can see below where he beat up a fan with a shoe at MSG, but you know what, that is a long way from what he is being accused of, so please BPD and others of the same mindset, throttle back a bit and give the man his day.

BTW, great vintage hockey clip. Classic stuff.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Are the Swiss Done?

FIFA threaten to expel Swiss from world football if they fail to punish Sion

FIFA have threatened to ban Switzerland from world football if their FA fail to punish Sion for breaking the game’s laws.

And if world chiefs push ahead with plans to exile the Swiss it could lead to Manchester United landing a shock Champions League reprieve.

Sion have been at war with FIFA over a transfer ban dished out in 2009 for breaking regulations when they signed Egyptian keeper Essam El-Hadary.

They thought the embargo had ended this summer and splashed out on six new signings. ...

See the whole article here, courtesy of Daily Record.

Kicking Back Comments: Do as I say and not as I do? A reasonable (yet belated) attempt to enforce transfer bans, or FIFA being heavy handed by threatening to stop the Swiss from playing all together?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Expect the Unexpected: High School Football Version

I've said it before, but this is a new one, even for me.

What was that line from Hill Street Blues? Be Careful Out There?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's worth the click

For those of us affiliated with US Soccer, information at times has been hard to come by, and sometimes not available at all.

I received an EMail the other day reminding me just how good a job US Soccer, specifically the refereeing arm, is doing with regard to putting timely and relevant information up on its web site.

If you don't have this linked, you should, and it can be found here at the US Soccer website.

I'm glad too, for if you take a look at the Socialnomics video below, they would be missing a huge segment of the population if US Soccer didn't take this step, or fail to keep up.

Take a peek below ... it might blow you away.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Not soccer related, but interesting none the less

RadioShack-Nissan-Trek announces lineup for 2012

RadioShack-Nissan-Trek for 2012
Jan Bakelants (BEL)
Daniele Bennati (ITA)
George Bennett (NZL)
Matthew Busche (USA)
Fabian Cancellara (SUI)
Laurent Didier (LUX)
Jakob Fuglsang (DEN)
Tony Gallopin (FRA)
Linus Gerdemann (GER)
Ben Hermans (BEL)
Chris Horner (USA)
Markel Irizar (ESP)
Ben King (USA)
Andreas Klöden (GER)
Tiago Machado (POR)
Maxime Monfort (BEL)
Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA)
Nelson Oliveira (POR)
Yaroslav Popovych (UKR)
Joost Posthuma (NED)
Gregory Rast (SUI)
Thomas Rohregger (AUT)
Hayden Roulston (NZL)
Andy Schleck (LUX)
Fränk Schleck (LUX)
Jesse Sergent (NZL)
Jens Voigt (GER)
Robert Wagner (GER)
Oliver Zaugg (SUI)
Haimar Zubeldia (ESP)

Staff
General manager: Johan Bruyneel
Team directors: Kim Andersen, José Azevedo, Dirk Demol, Alain Gallopin, Luca Guercilena and Lars Michaelsen
Press officers: Philippe Maertens and Tim Vanderjeugd

Source: Velo News

Friday, December 16, 2011

This guy should have read yesterday's post

Jerry Sandusky’s new lawyer: Maybe he was just teaching kids how to properly apply soap in the shower

Alternate headline: “Surprisingly, Joe Amendola not the worst lawyer on Sandusky’s team.”

We need something to help us clear our minds ahead of tonight’s debate. Let me assure you: This’ll do it. ...

See the whole story here, from Hot Air.

Kicking Back Comments: Here is a fact if life, and refereeing as sport is a subset of life (not the other way around).

WHEN YOU HAVE DUG YOURSELF INTO A HOLE, PUT DOWN THE SHOVEL!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

1-800-OOH-$*IT !!!

With an obvious play on what Jerry Sandusky's lawyer, Joe Amendola said to the media regarding facts around  Mr.Sandusky's child rape case, (see here for the story) there is a huge lesson in there for referees. First is not to hire someone as exquisitely unconventional as Joe Amendola, second (and relevant) is:

Know what you are going to say, before you say it.

Let's face it, referees take a lot of crap, but there are times that we are asked genuine questions too, ones that we should answer. Not the "how can that be a foul?", questions, but more the "direct or indirect?", "who was offside?", or "how much time is left?" questions.

My thought here dear refereeing friends, is answer very carefully as anything you say CAN and WILL be used against use in the court of public opinion, and even in a report to the league or federation. It is critical that you communicate with players and answer their questions at times when genuine. Here are a couple of specific thoughts:

First, if you are asked about your opinion, "what was that?", don't paint yourself into a box. "An direct/indirect kick" should be sufficient in most cases. If not, couch the answer as an opinion, "I though they handled the ball." Nothing fancy, no long discussion. Quick answer and move on as quick as you can.

Second, downtime can be trouble. Keep the match moving as best you can to limit running conversations. Less is more in this regard. If there is an injury, attend to the player and focus on them, not the conversation.

Third, don't let a conversation get away from you. If you decide to engage a player in conversation, make sure it does not devolve into a shouting match. Keep it brief, and keep it positive.

Fourth, know the LOTG cold. A referee stands to really embarrass themselves and damage their credibility if they are discovered not understanding the LOTG. A better play is to avoid the whole discussion if possible.

Lastly, don't be afraid to talk about non-soccer stuff before, during, and after!! Many times I would talk about pitch condition, weather, stadium, family, kids ... whatever, with players. This is great as it builds the bonds that are the underpinning of high level match control.

In all cases, think about your responses before they leave your mouth. You can't take them back, and they can be very damaging to you, and others. Just ask Mr. Amendola.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Every Microphone is live

This my friends is a lesson to remember for us all. Especially in the face of everyone having a device on their hip that can record video and sound in High Definition at a moments notice.

I personally have been caught more than once either "communicating" to a player in a direct manner (damn field mics), or slacking off at a game I thought no one was watching and somehow the tape made its way to US Soccer.

Always, always, always, assume you are being recorded when refereeing. It will just go easier for you in the long run.

Bad things can happen if you forget, as was evidenced recently by Tatyana Limanova being caught on camera "communicating" when she thought the video was off.

Russian newsreader Tatyana Limanova makes insulting gesture at Obama

A top Russian female newsreader has caused a stir after appearing to offensively show US President Barack Obama her middle finger during a live newscast.

Online footage of the incident, which occurred earlier this month during an afternoon news bulletin on the privately held REN TV channel, is being avidly viewed in both Russia and the United States.

In the footage, Tatyana Limanova, an award-winning senior newsreader at the channel, can be seen briskly reading out an item about how Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has just assumed the rotating chairmanship of the Asia Pacific Cooperation organisation. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of The Telegraph.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Right from the horse's ass

Sepp Blatter: Mistakes were made, some of them horrific, but we are determined to remedy the ills of the past

Dear readers of insideworldfootball

On the occasion of the 13th edition of the International Football Arena (IFA) conference in Zurich, on November 7 and 8, I will present updates and reflections that underline our road towards a different FIFA. The 200 opinion leaders from around the world, gathered at the IFA, will witness our determination to remedy the ills of the past, and how we intend to improve the way we do business. Through this column, I want to share some of the thoughts presented in Zurich with a much broader public so as to stress the relevance I give to the changes that are presently happening at FIFA. ...

Read the whole farcical tale here, courtesy of Inside World Football.

Kicking Back Comments: ... and I have some land in Florida to sell you. Please send $19.95 cash for your deed to the land. Send these monies to the following:

Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)
Headquarters: FIFA House, 11 Hitzigweg, 8030 Zurich, Switzerland

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Upgrade Kudos

As we have done here in the past, I would like to congratulate Richard Williams and Moulay Ridaoui, who have recently been upgraded to Grade 7 (Referee 1st Class).

Well done!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

All that and live images of the lunar eclipse

Only a slap?

Lamine Diack, Issa Hayatou: Only a slap

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Two senior African members escaped without serious sanction from the IOC on Thursday in the ethics scandal that led to the resignation of former FIFA president Joao Havelange.

IAAF president Lamine Diack of Senegal received a warning and African soccer head Issa Hayatou of Cameroon was given a reprimand after an investigation by the Olympic body's ethics commission. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of ESPN.

Kicking Back Comments: So from the IOC report, and the article, it would seem that timing matters greatly here. As the bribes were taken before these folks were IOC members, it is okay and the IOC is choosing not to act.

I said it the other day ... what a world we live in where integrity is a luxury, not a requirement in such positions. How very sad a state indeed. Allowed to continue in their position even with such ethical transgressions in their recent past.

This part of the article really caught my eye:
The ISL case was the subject of a Swiss criminal trial in 2008. FIFA has blocked the court in Zug from revealing which officials repaid $6.1 million in kickbacks. The officials repaid the money on condition that their identities remained anonymous.
Nice.

Any guesses who is on that list?

Friday, December 9, 2011

From one who knows directly

Blatter under pressure – again!

The past few weeks have not been good for FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

Firstly he became involved in the racism issues which involve two high profile Barclays Premier League players – Luis Suarez of Liverpool and England and Chelsea captain John Terry.

His suggestion that that racial discrimination could be settled with a handshake might have been non-controversial in most countries but in England, where these cases are still being investigated by the FA and feature prominently in the media, it lit a blue touch paper of outrage. ...

See the whole story here, from the blog of George Cummings.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My dad made me do it

Wayne Rooney father’s arrest to be used in Football Association's plea for clemency over Euro 2012 ban

The Football Association is considering whether to inform a Uefa appeal panel on Friday that Wayne Rooney’s father was arrested on the day before the game in which he was sent off for kicking out at an opponent as it seeks to have his three-game ban reduced. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of The Telegraph.

Kicking Back Comments: Are you *beeping* me? This boarders on "my dog ate my homework!" 

Now, if the arrest was for something traumatic like a crime of violence, or something that could result in great harm for his dad, I think the lawyers who are preparing his case have a reasonable shot.

After all, and this is a good lesson, everybody takes baggage into the field with them. If they can deal with it and play (or referee) is the hallmark of a pro. We are fools to think that everyone leads such a charmed life that "real life" does not impact matches. There are a few fools from previous administrations of US Soccer and others, who have washed out referees thinking they knew better than the referees who were dealing with off the field issues.

That aside, what was Roo's dad pinched for? Betting on soccer matches. In fact he was only detained.
From the article:
... Rooney’s state of mind was affected by the arrest, on the eve of the match, of his father, Wayne Snr, by police investigating alleged betting irregularities in football matches.Rooney Snr was one of eight men detained on conspiracy to defraud and was later released on bail.
... and THAT should give Rooney a pass for kicking someone in the way he did? Please.

IMHO, if he really wants to be a leader, take the 3 matches and say "sorry." I also recognize that it is likely not his decision, and the FA "wheels of justice" are turning over Roo where he will sit and look good, and have a canned response crafted by FA lawyers when called on.

I do believe however that at the end of all of this the ban is going to get reduced. Why?

Money.

Any way you cut it Roo is a punk (for now), and a great player, and UEFA wants butts in the seats.

My question is, if a substitute did this (I won't even go down the referee route), would the FA send 4 lawyers to actively work the case, or just be quiet and let the lad hang for 3 (or more) matches?

Simple answer.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The air gets thin up there

As a follow up to Babak Rafati, the FIFA referee who tried to take his own life right before a German 1st division match take a look at, "Bundesliga referee Babak Rafati diagnosed with depression", from Goal.com. In it we see one look into the pressure facing a FIFA referee who stated through his lawyer:
"Growing pressure for him to perform as a referee and the media pressure linked to that, combined with the constant fear of making mistakes, became a bigger and bigger burden," a statement from lawyer Sven Menke read. "This burden, at some point, made everyday problems seem insoluble and, in the end, he no longer felt able to cope with it."
Now when asked to speak about what it was like to a National and Professional League Referee for the time I did, I sometimes describe it as breathing "rarefied air", or sometimes "very thin air." There is a tremendous amount of pressure to perform regularly at these levels and one needs to be mentally prepared for that as they step onto that stage. There is no getting around this fact.

I say this as I recognize that it took great courage for Mr. Rafati to confront his condition head on and give such a clear statement about how he felt. It is rare to have one be so honest and personal about what they are going through, especially when one must act as a pillar of strength for those who rely on him.

While it is my genuine hope he will return to The Game in better health, it is also my sad suspicion he will not, as there is no getting around the very palpable, and very intense pressures bestowed on referees at that level, and sadly the stigma that generally accompanies mental conditions. You think its cruel when players call your gender into question ... imagine calling ones mental state into question. It may be a bridge too far.

Air at that level gets very thin, and ones survival is conditional on acclimating quickly or descending before getting hypoxic. Of course there are two ways down, under ones own power, or another's. The latter generally occurring without consent of the party descending and usually leads to great suffering.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Another Day, another FIFA corruption probe

Joao Havelange, FIFA Pillar, Resigns From Olympic Commitee Amid Corruption Allegations

Joao Havelange, a president of international soccer’s governing body for 24 years, stepped down from the Olympics after serving there for nearly a half century.

The Associated Press reported the resignation Sunday, and it was confirmed on Monday to the AP by the International Olympic Committee and Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA. There are more reports herehere and here. ...

See the full story here, courtesy of the WSJ.

Kicking Back Comments: I'll be honest, I used to revere Dr. Havelange. He was the man in power when I was just discovering the international game and I saw him for the position he represented. I was so smitten with The Game at that time I probably would have forgiven him if he was guilty of something. Based on the story, it would sure seem that way. I'll be honest too that there is no place for corruption, but I have no need to see a 95 year old man dragged through the mud. He may deserve it for what he had done, but I am more reflective about the man's age. A double standard possibly as Sepp is no spring chicken to be sure and I have made my position clear that I have no use for the man in his official capacity.

However, Ricardo Teixeira is another matter completely. Leading the 2014 World Cup and alleged to be taking bribes ... hmmmm. Some have even said if the games go well he is a clear successor to Sepp after 2014. Well, like Sepp, I have no use for corruption in The Game, and if this investigation bears out that Teixeira was indeed taking bribes, I would think sane minds would automatically exclude him from the FIFA presidency, or for that matter continuing as the heads of 2014.

Then again I live in a state when things like this are a regular happenstance, and all is forgiven.

Interesting times indeed when integrity is a luxury and not a necessity.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Xbox 360’s FIFA Phishing Continues Unabated

Since October, we've heard anecdotal accounts of Xbox Live members finding suspicious purchases on their credit cards and learning their accounts had been recovered to another machine. Now it's happened to a games writer—just this past week. Dan Crawley of VentureBeat provides a detailed rundown of exactly what happened, and in the process asks some detailed questions of Microsoft. ...

See the whole article here, courtesy of Kotaku.com.





Kicking Back Comments: Rumors that Sepp himself is the party responsible for phishing for credit card numbers via the XBox game are of course, false. He is after all far too busy scamming others in far more lucrative ways, IMHO.

An interesting story however for those of us who play in the electronic world as well as the real one.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I was just kidding, but somehow knew ...

... video would be out there of the topless protest.

VIEWER WARNING: CONTENT IS EXPLICIT AND CONTAINS NUDITY.

Here is the actual protest from Inside World Soccer, You Tube video is linked at the bottom of that article.

Can we get some video please?

Ukrainian Activists Go Topless in Prostitution Protest Ahead of Euro 2012 Soccer Draw

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian women's rights activists went topless Friday outside Kiev's Olympic Stadium to rally against alleged attempts to legalize prostitution during next summer's Euro 2012 soccer tournament.

Five half-naked demonstrators from the Femen group held up signs saying "Euro 2012 without prostitution," "Euro 2012 attacked our gates" and "F*cking Euro 2012," in front of the entrance to the stadium, while miniature soccer balls dangled on strings attached to their underwear.

See the whole story here, courtesy of Fox News.

Kicking Back Comments: Let me state that I too support "Euro 2012 without prostitution", as well as the creative method of messaging the point.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Transparency my a$$$$$$$$$$$ ...

Anti-corruption watchdog cuts ties with FIFA

KIEV, Ukraine—Global anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International has ended its working relationship with FIFA because past allegations of wrongdoing in world soccer won't be investigated.

Sylvia Schenk, TI's sports adviser, said Thursday she was "just astonished" that its conditions for joining a FIFA panel overseeing anti-corruption reforms were not accepted. ...

See the whole story here, from Boston.com.

Kicking Back Comments: Election over. Blatter wins. Send in the (FIFA) paid mouthpieces. 'Nothing to see here', they say. 'Move along', they demand.

Amazing. Simply amazing. 

#Blatterout

Thursday, December 1, 2011

... and while we're on Law 4

So yesterday we asked the question about the use of helmets and the effect of Law 4 on them in, "Soccer is bad for your health?"

Well here is a twist on this question ... can a referee wear a helmet if they want to? Or for that matter other equipment that may be dangerous to another? How about hats or long pants?

The answer dear friends, is no. And it's even in the LOTG.

First, take a look at my previous post of "What's a snood, and why is FIFA banning them?" Pretty straight forward, yes?

Now, please take a look at "Snood, You Lose", from HK Referee, and we are treated to pictures of FIFA referees, yes FIFA referees, wearing snoods.

Now, besides the fact that they look silly on a referee, why not wear them if practical you may ask?

Well first, it immediately sets up a "do as I say, not as I do" paradox between the players and referee. After all, why shouldn't the referee follow the LOTG as well? After all, they are responsible for enforcing them.

A better answer is actually in the LOTG itself. Take a look at the interpretation section which states:
"Referees are also prohibited from wearing jewelry (except for a watch or similar device for timing the match)."

Why would that be you ask? Likely to protect players from harm in a collision with a referee. So here, not only would jewelry apply, but also a dangerous item like a snood.

I would opine that the same applies to the dress and appearance of a referee. It would seem hypocritical to have it any other way. HK Referee and I agree on this one.

After all, we are there to enforce the laws by example first, and action as needed, second.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Soccer is bad for your health?

Regularly Hitting Soccer Ball With Head Linked to Memory Problems

Nov. 29, 2011 (Chicago) -- Using your head in soccer may not always be the best thing.

Regularly hitting a soccer ball with your head -- even just a few times a day -- has been linked to traumatic brain injuries, researchers report.

In a preliminary study, 32 amateur soccer players who "headed" the ball more than 1,000 to 1,500 times a year, the equivalent of a few times a day, had abnormalities in areas of the brain responsible for memory, attention, planning, organizing, and vision. ...

See the whole article here, from Web MD, and another here from USA Today.

Kicking Back Comments: So riddle me this friends, how can a player reasonably protect themselves from harm from such an issue? Not playing is certainly an obvious answer. How about a helmet?


Can a player wear a helmet?


If some of the Massachusetts legislature had its way, they would. Just take a look here, and more recently here for a far more reasonable approach. 


Really though, can a player wear a helmet under the LOTG?


Well, we are under Law 4, and it is clear that a player, "must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself or another player." The interpretations to Law 4 further on make it clear that, "Modern protective equipment such as headgear, ... made of soft, lightweight padded material are not considered dangerous and are therefore permitted."


Very clear indeed. So any type of hard helmet is absolutely out, where something like the F90 Headguard should be allowed without even a second look.


It is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. Don't believe me, or the statistics in the captioned articles? Check out this story from Grant Wahl, Concussions take toll in soccer too.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

More of the Same in Brazil

Ronaldo denies call to head Brazil World Cup committee

SAO PAULO (AP) -- Retired Brazil striker Ronaldo said Sunday he hasn't received an invitation to replace Ricardo Teixeira as the head of the country's 2014 World Cup organizing committee.

Teixeira, president of the Brazilian football federation, has recently been making changes to how the sport is governed and a Brazilian newspaper said he would leave the presidency of the organizing committee to make way for Ronaldo. ...

See the full article here, courtesy of SI.com

Kicking Back Comments: This is a particularly interesting read (and I recommend doing so) as it continues to paint the picture of who the next FIFA president may be if Brazil 2014 goes well. It also speculates on the level of corruption that is going on within the countries themselves. Take a look at the list of issues and investigations here ... and you start to wonder where there is smoke ... there is a corrupt politician.

Continues to be a sad commentary as to what The Game is about at this level ... $$$

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Baaaaaaack ...

... or maybe it never left.

Goal line technology has apparently had a busy week being put through its paces. FIFA spent part of last week looking at Hawk-Eye, already used in tennis and cricket. Up this week is Goalminder. Both are UK based companies.

What is interesting about these systems is they are both camera based. It would seem from the intel I have seen, and the direction FIFA seems to be going in, that the "sensor" based technologies are history, as from my sources who have used them, they are too flakey.

In the case of Goalminder you have cameras in both the goalposts and the goal line itself. It ain't cheap though as an install is in excess of $50,000 per goal.

While the systems are being tested in secret, it would sure seem that we are going to have goal line technology at least in a trial in the near future ... I hate to say.

Check out these articles that go into a little more detail about what our FIFA friends have been up to.

Fifa eyes football fans’ goal software from the Financial Times, and

Goal line technology back at top of the football agenda from the Football Trade Directory.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Too Good Not To Share: William Shatner on Turkey Fryers



Damn it Jim, I'm a Doctor, not a rôtisseur.

2011 Turkey of the Year Award: Sepp Blatter

So as many of you know, today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. I was originally going to write a fluff piece about how much I was thankful of so many things, which I am. But ...

Asia Pacific had its awards ceremony last night in Kuala Lumpur which is (was?) Mohamed bin Hammam's former stronghold before receiving a life ban from FIFA due his recent bribery charges. Mr. Blatter apparently could not contain himself taking several verbal shots at the disgraced leader in front of his former "subjects". You can get a taste of the comments from the AFP piece, FIFA president Blatter steals show in Asia. Here's one from the mouth of Blatter that made me laugh out loud:

"It's discipline, respect, fair play and if you put it into an organisation like the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) then you come to unity, solidarity, democracy, and finally it's a question of trust and confidence."

Now maybe its just me, but here is a guy who has been shown to have less than impeccable morals as the head of FIFA. Corruption, bribery, and recently, racism, are adjectives that are swirling around not only FIFA, but Blatter himself. You can bet your last Swiss Franc I have been researching Blatter's latest stellar example of why he should not be leading FIFA with his recent gaffe on Al Jazeera. How can this realistically continue?

Hopefully it will not for long if @FakeSepp has anything to do with it. Even he has turned from hysterical satirist to straight evangelist in some of his recent tweets.


So while I think Sepp is my 2011 Turkey of the Year, I can only hope by this time next year, we will be free of him. More importantly The Game will.

That I will be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

MLS Referee and AR of the year ...

NEW YORK – MLS announced on Thursday that Mark Geiger has received the Referee of the Year award for the 2011 season. Corey Rockwell was named Assistant Referee of the Year.

Geiger has appeared in more than 90 regular-season matches since 2004, his first season as a referee in MLS. He has also taken part in five playoff games, most recently refereeing Houston’s 2-0 victory against Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference Championship.

See the whole story here, courtesy of MLSSoccer.com.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Les Jeux Sont Faits for the (not so) "Super Committee"

Paul Levy wrote about the recent "super committee" mess in his recent post of Choice: Eat or throw tomatoes. He writes most eloquently what I state here gutturally, these folks are so bogged down in politics and self interest, they are useless in finding a solution. So much so their opportunity to actually do something has passed.

I have no use personally for such lack of action, or political grandstanding from them or POTUS in blaming one side, not leading and blaming both.

I was thinking though, what if referees who were trained to act as needed were put in such a situation. Can you imagine Congress filled with referees? Something certainly would get done ... and probably a number of cautions given along the way and likely an ejection or two. Who would go first I wonder??

Made me think of this commercial from NexTel, which is right on point:

Monday, November 21, 2011

They are more than fellow referees ...

Photo courtesy of persianfootball.com
As some may have heard, 41 year old FIFA referee Babak Rafati, attempted to commit suicide on Saturday prior to a Bundesliga match between Cologne and FSV Mainz. This match was canceled 40 minutes prior to kickoff.

Now, one of the recently reported facts on the matter is that his refereeing crew is being credited with saving his life.

See, Referee's life saved after suicide attempt, from the Independent with the gory details, including:
"Rafati was found in the bath of his Cologne hotel room by the officials after he had slit his wrists in an attempt to commit suicide two hours before the game."
Now, far be it for me to comment on any particular aspect of this story as frankly it would be irresponsible. There are a couple of general comments I will make however.

First, referees are humans, and suffer the same as every other human on the planet. While I have not always thought this way, thinking at times in my life they suffer less, and sometimes more, I certainly know now that we are all hopelessly human. I wish the man well on his long road to recovery both physically and emotionally.

Second, referees share so much with each other, especially at the highest levels. It is somewhat unavoidable as with so few matches, and so few high level referees, you see the same faces time, and time again. So often these men and women are far more than colleagues, they become friends, and sometimes close ones for life for what they go through together on the field, and off.  It is my sense that Holger Henschel, Frank Willenborg and Patrick Ittrich were close to Mr. Rafati before this tragic incident, but certainly will be now as they too are surely suffering as well.

Next time you are out, consider the part of life you are sharing with your "regular crew", and the team will be better for it, as it puts far more emphasis of why you are there, which is far more than simply refereeing a match.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I am 'outta here ...


... for about a week on business.

I will be in Asia, so in the spirit I have been catching up on the Hong Kong Referee blog. It continues to be a very precise rendering of refereeing topics, and does not disappoint.

Take a peek ... it's worth it.

Will be back next week with more ... but who knows JAFO and Nigel may just jump in as well.

Thanks for reading,
PK

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thank You Veterans

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." 

- John F. Kennedy

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Just like I planned

Photo courtesy of Velo News
So if you read yesterday (... they just fade away ...), you saw me offering a complaint without much else.

Well, as luck would have it, Velo News came through again with: McEwen outlines schedule in farewell season, to transition to ‘scout’ role.

Robbie McEwen is a pro rider since 1996 and rides currently for Team Radio Shack. Playing the role of a sprinter, he has dozens of palmares (wins) to his name, and significant racing experience to say the least.

He will be racing until May, then acting as a scout for Greenedge Cycling, riding the last several K of the TDF routes to scout things for the riders.

How cool is that?

Now imagine if US Soccer did something similar. Created a scouting program to work with the youth leagues to find that next FIFA referee. Not just hope they bubble up in some tournament, but a conscious effort with a group of scouts in each state to find these kids that will rise to the top.

FIFA wants 'em young to train. US Soccer needs 'em young to get experience and credibility. A national scouting program ... a bit more than we have now ... and with a little organization may find that next Angelo Bratsis, or Brian Hall.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

... they just fade away ...

For those who are not familiar with the quote, it is from General MacArthur in his farewell speech to the US Senate when he retired from his better than half century of military service to the United States. His full quote is "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away."

I picked up the quote when reading Velo News about the crop of 2011 pro cycling retirees, among them is Lance Armstrong. End of an era for sure in pro cycling. He like MacAuthur will never die, but just fade.

It also had me reflecting on the season and that we are coming time to have mandatory retirement from the FIFA list for those who have reached 45 years of age. Most notable for me last year was Tom Supple who I wrote about in Celebrating an outstanding career, and a friend.

The USA list of FIFA referees and ARs can be found here, and based on age, it looks like AR Chris Strickland is coming off the list this year.

Now after a lifetime of climbing the refereeing ranks that a retiring referee would be showered with laurels and made to feel appreciated for their service to US Soccer. After all they have reached the apex of refereeing in the world, and have done so for US Soccer.

It is my experience and observation however ... not so much.

Some former FIFA referees certainly contribute greatly to the professional leagues, either actively by continuing to work them, or indirectly as with their experience they can work as National Assessors and Instructors. To have former National and FIFA referees undertake these roles, nearly exclusively, is a very positive policy that US Soccer has undertaken. 

That said of a good first step, it is my opinion US Soccer needs to better engage its "retired" refereeing population in each state to fully utilize their abilities that in some cases have been left adrift with much to offer at the National level.

In this way, if done properly, former FIFA referees don't die, nor fade, but stay in the respected position they have earned over a lifetime of service and continue to contribute along the way.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Upgrade Kudos

As we have done here in the past, I would like to congratulate Jason Shafferman, who has recently been upgraded to Grade 7 (Referee 1st Class).

Well done!

Monday, November 7, 2011

NO POPPIES FOR YOU!

EXCLUSIVE: Poppy ban on England kit enforced 'in case we upset Germans'

FIFA have insisted that England cannot wear poppies against Spain at Wembley — in case they one day meet Germany around the time of Remembrance Sunday.

Football’s governing body do not want to create a ‘provocative’ political precedent which would potentially cloud a future match because of historical difference.

The FA had their request for poppies to be sewn into England’s kit for Saturday’s match against the world champions declined by FIFA, to the dismay of war veterans and England’s governing body. ...

See the whole article here, courtesy of Mail Online.

Kicking Back Comments: Overly PC, or reasonable look at the big picture? Not sure on this one, but I am never a fan of failing to remember a veteran. War happens and I figure we could remember the fallen of each side in a respectful way to assure it does not happen again.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Falling Back

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia
As daylight is waning, and the days are getting colder, today is the day we observe Daylight Savings Time in parts of the world. For a precise country by country breakdown, look here at Wikipedia, for its origin, history, where its observed, and just general factoids about the observance.

What it also means, sadly, is the outdoor season is coming to a close and its time to move indoor for some R&R, indoor soccer, futsal, and yes (again sadly) training for next year.

Don't worry, spring is only 135 days away.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Worawi denies wrongdoing over funds

Worawi Makudi, president of the Football Association of Thailand, yesterday denied wrongdoing after allegations that US$860,000 of development funds were spent building football projects on land he owns.

It was reported this week that Fifa had stepped up its investigation into its executive committee member Worawi, demanding more legal documents to answer the allegations.

Fifa said it will launch a formal case if Worawi fails to show by Dec 1 that he donated the land in question to the FAT. ...

See the whole story here from The Bankok Post.

Kicking Back Comments: NOW we're cooking with gas! Let's root this stuff out FIFA and get rid of the wrong doers! About time!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Upgrade Kudos

As we have done here in the past, I would like to congratulate Matt DeNapoli, who has recently been upgraded to Grade 7 (Referee 1st Class).

Well done!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Required reading ...

... for any who coach youth soccer, or who want to.

See l'equip petit from Paul Levy's blog Not Running a Hospital.

You can follow Paul (and I do) at the following:

Monday, October 31, 2011

Back in the dark ... again.

Yes folks you guessed it. I am back in the dark with no access to my own equipment to send the daily rant about all things soccer.

I have amusingly considered getting 100 Socket balls, having my kids spend 15 minutes each with them, and putting them in series to have some power for at least a little while in the house.

But alas, I am powerless both figuratively and literally so please browse the older posts on the right, and we will return when National Grid figures out what is going on.

 

Friday, October 28, 2011

That's BILLION with a "B"!

Fox Outbids ESPN, NBC for 2018/2022 World Cup Rights

Fox will broadcast the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in the USA after outbidding rivals ESPN and NBC.

Leaders from each of the three networks had travelled to Zurich last week to hand over their offers to world football’s governing body.

In what’s widely being considered a surprise, Fox’s bid was apparently considered the best by the FIFA Executive Committee.

Fox is said to have paid between $450 million and $500 million for the English rights with Telemundo forking out another $600 million for Spanish. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of WFI.

Kicking Back Comments: Yes folks, that 1.1 Billion (with a B) for TV rights to FIFA for a soccer tournament. Big business folks, big business.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Upgrade Kudos

As we have done here in the past, I would like to congratulate Jordan Cavaco and John O'Brien, who have recently been upgraded to Grade 7 (Referee 1st Class).

Well done!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nice Balls!!!

Questionable title aside, this is really cool on a lot of levels.

Check out the video below:



As first reported in NRAH in a post called Electric Soccer (told you guys I read this blog a lot), is this really, really neat idea.

Not novel from an engineering sense to be sure as energy harvesting technology like this has been around, and in use for some time, but the combination of the engineering principle with the application is outstanding.

A truly remarkable invention from a couple of women from Harvard that combines the universal acceptance of The Game, with a universal need for electricity.

Check out their whole story at www.soccket.com.

Monday, October 24, 2011

"Fifa members 'pressured into Qatar vote'"

The decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was called into question by new FIFA executive committee member Theo Zwanziger, with the German saying some of his fellow members had been pressurised by their governments to vote for the bid.

The comments from the 66-year-old president of the German Football Association (DFB) to the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper are significant as he was appointed last week by FIFA to head one of the new committees established to clean up the organisation.

Accusations of bribery and corruption over the last year have dogged world soccer's governing body. ...

See the whole article here, courtesy of stuff.co.nz.

Kicking Back Comments: No surprise to this reader ... but it is amazing how many people want to tell this story, and how relatively well they line up with each other. Something happened folks, no question in my mind. Just when will we get the whole story? Is Jack coming out with a book soon?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

How I Made The Call (from NRAH)

From yesterday, the purveyor of Not Running a Hospital, Paul Levy, posed a soccer scenario from a Columbus Day Tournament for us to make a call.

His description in what he his can be found here at How I made the call.

Let me begin the analysis by saying that I agree with his decision as described. I also offer some thoughts as to some of the comments made, and what the LOTG actually says.

As you can imagine, we find ourselves in Law 12 as you may expect for "Fouls and Misconduct."

First question: Is it even a foul?
In a few of the responses to the question on NRAH, I saw the word "intent." To which I reply, Who cares?! Intent is a relic of the LOTG and was replaced with "careless, reckless, or using excessive force", and cuts a much wider path that referees must act on.

Having intent to commit a foul could reasonably be construed as either, careless, reckless, or excessive force. Note however, what if a player was uncoordinated when he made contact with the GK? Careless? Reckless? What if the player made the challenge when they could not reasonably expect to make a fair play at the ball? Careless? Reckless?

Maybe, and as such may be a foul regardless of intent.

Next Question: What type of offense are we talking about though? Jump? Charge? Push? Strike? Holds? Impedes? Does it matter?
My answer here is, it matters only to the degree between determining the type of kick that would need to be taken. This lies in the difference between dangerous play, impedes an opponent, and basically everything else. Consider this rule of thumb ... If there is contact between opponents, it is a direct kick.

Think about our situation, we had a GK and an opponent attacker collide, this would have to be a DFK if a foul was called. Call it a jump, charge, strike ... who cares ... it is a DFK. This is also one of the reasons why when asked, "What is the call?", I reply "A direct kick", "An indirect kick." To do otherwise invites, "... it was a push, not a hold ...", which in how the LOTG treat the punishment are identical. Don't get drawn into a moot debate.

To take this a bit further, what if a "high kick" (i.e. a dangerous play) makes contact to the opponent? You guessed it ... a DFK for a kick. Think contact == DFK.

Last Question: Does the position of the GK matter?
Another comment from NRAH on the topic related to the fact that the GK can not be challenged "in his box" (i.e. the penalty area). This folks, is simply not true.

The penalty area marks where the GK has particular rights relative to handling the ball. Specifically where they may play the ball with their hands. There are no other privileges that the LOTG affords a GK.

No you may immediately say "But the GK is so vulnerable, they must be protected." To which I strongly agree and go further to say if a referee does not protect a GK, chaos will ensue.

While these two statements seem incongruous, my rationale lies in what the LOTG says regarding careless, reckless and excessive force.

GK's by their very nature have to take risks unique to other players in the field. While not afforded special protection, the vulnerability they necessarily put themselves through widens what an opponent may do that is careless, reckless, or excessive in nature.

Consider a GK in our scenario who is stretched out reaching for the ball in the air unlike any other player in that penalty area can do. As such they are vulnerable to a challenge from an opponent in a unique way, and as a result the "sphere" of what is reckless, careless, or excessive widens appropriately. It is NOT because the player is a GK in their penalty area, it IS a result of the way a GK is required to play.

Think about this, a GK that within their own penalty area plays the ball with their feet, and plays like any other field player ... is it reasonable to think that GK can not be challenged due to their location inside the field? Certainly not!

So at the end of the day, I agree with the decision made to allow the play, and allow the goal. My additional analysis here is intended to do nothing more than to relate just how difficult such a decision is when made correctly ... as IMHO Paul did in the scenario provided.

Friday, October 21, 2011

You Make The Call (From NRAH)

So if you are a regular reader here, you know that I am a reader, and often "pilferer of content" from Paul Levy's blog "Not Running a Hospital."

His credentials are vast on many topics, and while his focus is in the medical arena on patient driven care, he is also (and relevant here) a soccer referee.

Over Columbus Day he refereed a match and posed an interesting scenario. That scenario can be found at his blog at You make the call.

Note also the comments to his post, those too are illuminating.

Take the time to take a look and form an opinion. I will post his response tomorrow, and my opinion.

You can follow Paul (and I do) at the following:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

You're Going the Wrong Way!

Well if anyone has been watching, the US took a tumble in the FIFA World rankings. While Spain remains on top, the US continues its slide closer to the bottom. At current, we are ranked 34th, between Ghana and Algeria.

As it cited here from the WSJ, the system used in determining who goes where, is convoluted to say the least. Also at the end of the day what really matters is that (a) the US qualifies for the 2014 Cup, and (b) while no goal has been stated by our new skipper, I suspect that anything less than a 1/4 final berth will be a failure.

Well, look on the bright side. We are #2 in CONCACAF ... behind Mexico.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Now Leaving the Reservation ...

Let me being by saying that I believe Franz Beckenbauer is one of the best players in history, and certainly the best German player of all time. Let me continue by saying that I believe his suggestions to "make offside simpler" (for the referees), and do away with send offs for non-brutal fouls is a bit misguided. See here from ESPN for his proposals.

While unquestionably well intended, Franz may have forgotten why those changes went in to the LOTG in the first place. Which is why most of the changes have gone in with recent history ... to score goals, or in the alternative to make the penalty so harsh for preventing them, people won't.

While correct in saying that offside is difficult to judge, his decision to place it on the FIFA agenda for discussion seems to stem from a particular incident (or at least ESPN portraits it as such) and not from a well thought out, and larger campaign of why it was changed in the first place ... again to score goals.

Der Kaiser may also be reminiscing a bit back to his days when sweepers were for the man and the ball, his comment of send offs for "brutal fouls" is somewhat dated. There are lots of sneaky and non-violent methods to prevent goals, and sending players off is to protect that goal scoring bid, not just punish brutal fouls ... and to score goals.

Same reason for implementing the "5 second" modification and doing away with the "4 step" modification for goal keepers ... to score goals. You can't score goals if you don't have the ball.

Let's face it folks, soccer is not a high scoring game, and FIFA recognizes for the marketability of the game, you need goals ... even I agree with FIFA on that one. Laws should be touched sparingly as I think FIFA has is pretty correct now. That said, I am always open to making it better. I would opine however Mr. Beckenbauer's suggestions would not make things better, but actually much worse.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Coaches Are People Too

Image Courtesy of Bentcorner.com
Anyone see the Detroit v. San Fran (gridiron) football game the other day?

If so, you were treated to some coach on coach bumping and grinding as rookie head coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers, handed the Lion’s head coach Jim Schwartz his first loss of the year.

Harbaugh can be seen immediately before coming over to slap Schwartz on the back, jumping around like a frog on a hot plate. Not surprisingly, Schwartz took some exception to the treatment, all of which, and the aftermath can be seen here, from NFL films.

Well now what is the referee role here for such boorish behavior one may ask?

Head for the showers? Call the police? What's the call?

Well, first let me say that I don't blame Schwartz one bit. While I appreciate the excitement from Harbaugh, I also think it was way over the top. WAY over the top. That said, there referees have a responsibility here, and can't just turn their backs and head to the showers.

So lets think about it, this is essentially a mass confrontation scenario. What do we do?

While each scenario is different, generally if you can get in between the trouble makers, do so. You can see the referees actually trying to so this in the video. With that you can actually try to talk some sense into the parties and get them to calm down a bit. You can also usually count on help when you start to separate folks like this too especially in big venues like the subject one. In smaller venues, other players usually jump in to help.

After that, take a breath, and when things are not going to reignite, TAKE NOTES! Right there is the time to make sure you get the relevant notes down. You will need them later.

Well, what if you get no help, now what?

Back off, and if you are not in any danger, take notes. Have your officiating team do the same. If there is not a reasonable way to control what is going on, make sure that it gets reported accurately, to the league, or the police as needed.

In no cases however, should you compromise your safety and that of your crew. If the scene is unsafe, get out and when safe, write the details of what happened as you will need to write a report later. No exceptions here, if you are in danger, leave.

At the end of the day here, I expect both coaches to get fined by the NFL, Harbaugh more than Schwartz for starting the whole thing. Then again, Schwartz could have just let it go after the first slap on the back.

Again, coaches are people too and are emotional beings, and as referees we should allow them to be so. When it goes over the top however, they need to be reeled in too, just as you would any other participant.

Monday, October 17, 2011

PES v. FIFA. The Greatest Debate of Our Time? Really?


FIFA or PES? The greatest debate of our time.

The greatest rivalry in the history of video-games cranks up another notch with the launch of Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 this weekend.

As some of you will be aware, Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 will be released this weekend and with it comes the re-establishment of videogames' greatest rivalry. With FIFA 12 already on the shelves for two weeks and being the fastest-selling sports game of all time the boys from Konami will have a lot of catching up to do, both financially and critically.

A quick look across the internet will tell you that FIFA is once again dominating the critical acclaim, scoring about 90% on average with poor old Pro Evo barely scraping 80%. So will the gaming public be acknowledging FIFA as the king of this genre? Not likely as PES fans are a proud stubborn bunch that just won’t let go, and they've good reason for it. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of Joe.IE.

Kicking Back Comments: Entertaining to be sure. In fact I used to play the MLS match I was going to be refereeing on FIFA, before the match happened. However, as I tell Jr. every time he tells me how good he is at FIFA 11 ... go outside and kick a real ball.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Look Back In History

Statistics are interesting ...

Refereeing is interesting ...

Combining the two under a MLS guise is really interesting.

Take a look here, to see what I mean. An interesting way to display this info.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Stone Cold Busted

Former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner is caught on tape offering 'gifts’ of £25,000 to Caribbean delegates

Exclusive: Jack Warner has been caught on tape apparently urging fellow Caribbean officials to accept cash gifts from Mohamed Bin Hammam, the disgraced former presidential candidate. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of the Guardian.

Kicking Back Comments: Shocking! (yawn)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Romario "strikes" back

FIFA must be put in its place, says Romario

(Reuters) - FIFA must not be allowed to ride roughshod over Brazilian law when it stages the 2014 World Cup, former Brazil striker Romario, now a federal Congressman, said Monday.

Romario told reporters that Brazilian laws which guarantee half-price entry to football matches for the elderly and ban on alcohol in stadiums should not be swept away for FIFA's benefit.

"If FIFA is not put in its rightful place, FIFA will soon have more power than our president and the World Cup will be the way FIFA wants it and not the way we should do it," Romario told reporters. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of Reuters.

Kicking Back Comments: Romario for President! I am with him. As I noted here, this policy from FIFA not only abridges the sovereign law of the land ... but its really crappy public policy from FIFA ... you guessed it ... for a buck. Well $100,313,600 to be more precise. Chump change for FIFA in light of what they make on World Cups. They use the excuse of "investing it back into football", which some of it likely does ... but please ... give us a break with the PR rubbish. Let the elderly see the matches at 1/2 price ... after all, they help build the game that you have the luxury of governing now.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

$32,915,400 to $0


FA reveals true cost of England's failed 2018 World Cup bid

• Total spending was £21m rather than £15m widely reported
• England spent more per vote than any country bar Australia

England's failed 2018 World Cup bid cost £21m – some £6m more than had been widely reported, according to the latest Football Association accounts.

The bid for the tournament ended in disaster last December, attracting only two Fifa members' votes including that of the British Fifa vice-president, Geoff Thompson. ...

See the full article here, courtesy of the Guardian.

Kicking Back Comments: I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Forget THE game, it's big business folks.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Chuck's OUT!

FIFA Whistleblower Blazer to Quit CONCACAF Role at Year’s End

Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Chuck Blazer, the soccer official whose corruption complaints led to a senior FIFA colleague being banned for life, will step down as general secretary of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football at the end of this year.

Blazer, 66, said in a e-mailed statement that he’ll end his two-decade tenure with CONCACAF, one of soccer’s six regional confederations, on Dec. 31. He’ll continue as a member of FIFA’s executive committee and intends to “pursue other career opportunities” in the sport. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of Bloomberg.

Kicking Back Comments: As is clear here, I am no fan of FIFA as an institution. Check however is a bright spot in an otherwise black hole. CONCACAF, and selfishly the US, are losing a tremendous advocate.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"The Great MLS Referee Database Thread"

The subject very, very, interesting thread from Big Soccer can be found here.

Here is the lede from Maniacal Clown:

I hereby declare this new thread to be where we shall discuss MLS referee assignments of years past as well as discuss and work as a community on the database I have created to keep track of all these stats.

I'm going to be posting year by year statistics gradually as I slog through the copying and pasting of SQL queries and turn it into something readable. Don't expect more than one year in one night. I might go insane if I tried to do it all at once.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What does FIFA have against the elderly and students?

Brazil, FIFA fight over 2014 World Cup

RIO DE JANEIRO -- With fewer than a thousand days to go before Brazil 2014, the 20th World Cup, there is a standoff between two heavyweights -- Dilma Rousseff and Sepp Blatter, the presidents, respectively, of Brazil and FIFA.

At the heart of the dispute are the problems of staging the World Cup in a developing economy. For FIFA, the World Cup is low-risk -- it makes its money from the sale of TV rights. Meanwhile, it makes all sorts of demands on the host nation, and in a country such as Brazil there are many competing claims on the public purse. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of ESPN.

Kicking Back Comments: So where did my lede come from? Well in the article, you can find this:
FIFA has been anxiously waiting for Brazil to pass a law bringing into effect a legislative framework for 2014. Brazil has been in no hurry, and is unwilling to give FIFA all it wants; Brazilian law, for example, decrees that senior citizens should pay half-price for public events. Some of the country's 27 states extend the same right to students. FIFA wants no discounts.
Nice, huh. Arguably, the most vulnerable in a developing economy, and no discounts. This too from the fact that FIFA derives most if its revenue from TV royalties.


A new low? Nah, business as usual.


This one will get interesting as the days click by, and no agreement is reached.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

FIFA kicks Myanmar out of WC qualifying

FIFA kicks Myanmar out of qualifying for 2018 World Cup after crowd violence

ZURICH — FIFA has kicked Myanmar out of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup as punishment for crowd violence at a 2014 qualifier in July.

Fans threw stones and water bottles onto the field during Myanamar’s game against Oman on July 28, forcing the referee to abandon the match. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of the Washington Post.

Kicking Back Comments: Is FIFA too heavy handed here? Should the players be striped of an opportunity due to the negligence of the fan(atics) or National Federation?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Just a High School Match?

We started discussing yesterday about a match that I refereed earlier in the week, and my field position. Just as background, this was a high school level match that wound up as a 1::1 result. Evenly played, no major headaches.

Specifically we looked at "getting off the diagonal" and how it was necessary to be near play and get into the field more. To illustrate this point we used a GPS plot of my last match, which can be accessed below:

Now, if you hit the "View Details" button, you are going to be treated to a few other things too.

First is a summary of what went on:


I was a little blown away by the distance and calories frankly. Looking a little deeper, I saw something that should be self evident for referees ...










... we don't run at one speed. And in fact we are all over the map and need to be able to go from a stop, to a sprint, in a hurry.

If you look at the speeds also, you can see the average moving speed was 4.3 MPH and the top speed was 10.9 MPH. Note also that I was walking or stopped for about 23 minutes of the match.

Another indicator of effort was my heart rate ...










... which peaked at about 189 (not the theoretical max of 178 for me [220-age]), and averaged 172bpm. Note this does not include the half time interval where it was recorded in the 120's.

So what is the take away? Be ready to RUN for 90 minutes regardless of match!

It does not matter what level it is, or what competition you are at, a referee needs to be ready. This match was a well skilled, garden variety hight school match, and I had to run 9km, which is equivalent to fullback Mauricio Sabillon from Honduras in his 2010 World Cup match (source).

While fitness in not everything, a referee needs to be ready with fitness like this, even in their own backyard to be able to handle such matches appropriately.

Whatever you do, DON'T get lulled into think "it's just a high school match."