Thursday, June 30, 2011

This time, Pennsylvania

As I write this, I am making my last preparations to depart for the Region I Championships in Lancaster PA.

While I certainly am not looking forward to getting up at 3:00AM (literally) and drive 7 hours to the final destination, I can say that I am looking forward to the camaraderie and experiences of the week.

Being away from my family for a week is no small thing, especially over the 4th of July. It is a great time for picnics and BBQ's and fireworks and stuff that makes lasting memories for years and years. When I was actively refereeing there was a span of half a decade that I did not see 4th of July fireworks because I was out refereeing at this tournament and I really missed those experiences with family and friends.

I write this not lamenting my decision to attend this tournament, but to convey its importance. For referees this is a critical tournament. For some it is the beginning of their "regional career", where they are exposed the very first time to teams outside of their state, or even an assessment for the very 1st time.

Others are at the end of their youth career. They have traversed the gauntlet of youth soccer and will got to Youth Nationals, essentially ending any significant involvement in youth soccer as a referee, until of course they come out the other end of the pipe and do what I am, and circling back around.

Most are in the middle, some know they want to progress and be that referee that goes to the Nationals soon, others might be saying, "Is it really worth it?"

In all cases, these are critical times for a youth referee.

Here is why my particular role, and those of the other assessors and instructors at this tournament are so critical, they have the ability to influence what happens next with these careers. Open and honest feedback is so critical in these cases. So too however is a positive disposition to assure the referee what they did is okay, and here's how you can change it for a different result.

It is pretty incredible to have the opportunity to be able to reach so many young, eager minds in one place, at one time. It's rather rare actually.

At this point, that's why I'm going, to reach those minds and hope to make a difference.

I will do my best to get a post in now and then when I am away, but no promises. In the mean time Nigel and JAFO may jump in and fill the void.

Keep and eye on @Kicking_Back on Twitter as well as I can assure you, that will be popping over the week.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

USA 2 :: Korea 0

Well the US did well in their first match as far as a result goes taking it 2::0 after the halftime. More interesting to me however was the match through the referee, and some of the crazy comments after.

For anyone interested, the referees were:
Referee: Bibiana STEINHAUS (GER)
Assistant Referee 1: Marina WOZNIAK (GER)
Assistant Referee 2: Katrin RAFALSKI (GER)
Fourth official: Gyoengyi GAAL (HUN)

This referee is interesting. She is the ONLY woman referee in German professional football, and a police officer to boot (shades of Howard Webb).

Her FIFA profile can be found here, Facebook page here, and personal (authorized) website here. You just have to love the information age.

The match itself (again from a refereeing perspective) to me was boring. A full match summary is here, and the official report is here (.pdf). Just looking at the summary (below), you can get the sense there was really not a lot going on by the way for fouls and misconduct, and this referee did not have to get too involved.

19Shots13
8Corner kicks4
0Yellow cards0
0Second yellow card and red card0
0Red Cards0
53%Possession (%)47%
One of the more interesting parts came after the match, where the Korea coach Kim Kwang-Min when asked about his teams (lack of) performance, came up with a doosey. Quoting the coach (source):
"When we stayed in Pyongyang during training there was an unexpected accident so our team was not capable of playing. Our players were hit by lightning during a training match. More than five were hospitalised. The match was on 8 June."
Well, at least he did not blame the referee.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

¿Hablas español?

Well Tim Howard is not a happy camper based on his rant the other day about the Gold Cup organizers. His tirade made international news, and "jumped the shark" to shows like "The O'Riley Factor", as he harpooned CONCACAF organizers for their lack of cultural sensitivity. In his own words:
“CONCACAF should be ashamed of themselves. I think it was a f&(%ing disgrace that the entire post-match ceremony was in Spanish. You can bet your ass if we were in Mexico City it wouldn’t be all in English.”
Reports on this point are varied as apparently there was some English spoken during the ceremony (source).

Coach Bradley took a decidedly diplomatic tone stating that:
"Obviously, the support that Mexico has on a night like tonight makes it a home game for them,” U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. “Certainly we have some fans, but the overwhelming amount of support (for Mexico) is something that we expected and as a team we understand it's part of what we've got to deal with tonight. It was still a great atmosphere.”
For my money while I was not thrilled with CONCACAFs lousy handling of the situation, and the lack of a spine to fail to give a statement after when asked repeatedly, to me this is not that big a deal. Yes, the ceremonies should have been conducted in both languages out of respect for where the match was being played, and the other team. Shading the way of the Mexican population at a high level seems disrespectful to those who are not able to understand the language.

That said I have the luxury of speaking Spanish and beyond a protocol gaffe, I don't see the issue. I have to believe that Howard was emoting more about the dismal loss the US Team just suffered, than how CONCACAF was conducting business.

... and for the record, the US Teams disrespect for not taking a photo after the match was rather pathetic. They came to the match and lost in a "fair fight." They have professional responsibilities outside of just playing the match. Instead of pouting and hiding in their locker room, act like pros and take the damn picture.

Use it as some motivation the next time the US plays Mexico.

Monday, June 27, 2011

THANK YOU!

As I completed this long weekend in the saddle for Ride the Rhode, I wanted to take a second to thank all of you for the well wishes and support of all kinds. Without you all, it just would not be the same.

Here are the gory details for all interested (click to enlarge):

Day 1:


Day 2:


Next ride is the 2011 Memory Ride for Alzheimer's research on July 23rd 2011.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Multiple guess ...

Okay guys and gals, while I am out on Ride the Rhode for MS over the weekend, what do we think from the video below, or here. Voting is on the right.



Here are the choices:

a. Do nothing
b. Caution Henry
c. Caution Moffat
d. Send off Henry
e. Send off Moffat
f. Caution both players
g. Caution Henry, Send off Moffat
h. Send off Henry, Caution Moffat (What the referee did)
i. Send off both players
j. Dismiss the AR

FIFA Refereeing core loses one of its own

As many no doubt have heard, a RusAir Tupolev 134 was trying to land at its destination of Petrozavodsk in heavy fog, and crashed short of the runway causing the death of (44) people, leaving only 8 survivors (source).

Among these 44 was a man named Vladimir Pettay (Владимир Леонидович Петтай) a FIFA referee who hailed from Pudozh, Russia. A former professional player, referee since 1996, and FIFA since 2010, he leaves a wife, son, and daughter.

Sepp Blatter sent his condolences to Pettay's family and federation stating:
“On behalf of FIFA and the worldwide family of football, I wish to extend our condolences to you, the Russian football community and, most importantly, to Vladimir Pettay’s family, friends and loved ones. Please let them know today the football community stands by their side.”
A sad day indeed, as by all accounts a good man was lost to a tragic event.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bye Jack ...

Fifa's Jack Warner resigns and claims Chuck Blazer 'undermined' him

• Suspended Fifa vice-president quits all international positions
• Warner accuses Chuck Blazer of 'unimaginable' undermining

See the whole story here, courtesy of Guardian.

Kicking Back Comments:  Translation ==> I am about to get caught with my hand in the cookie jar, so instead of doing the right thing and apologizing for my appalling behavior, I am going to quit and not say anything, but blame it on the guy who had the evidence.

I can only hope that FIFA never allows him back within its ranks again. THAT is a good first step toward cleaning up its act.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

GOAL!

Back from June 8th (Goal or no goal?), and June 9th (You would think), we asked the question if a ball struck from a Kick From The Penalty Mark (KFTPM) which after an initial save, stays in play, and crosses the goal line under the crossbar, and between the posts, is a goal.

The correct answer is a goal in all cases shown.

I can say that there was much debate over this from some very high level referees. Like calling a direct free kick for a handball violation of Law 12, decisions like this have to be known going in, and AUTOMATIC when they happen in the field. As was clear in a couple of these clips, at least the AR on the goal line was not.

The legal underpinnings for this decision come from (2) places in the LOTG (2010-2011), and the Advice to Referees (2009-2010).

First, as we are taking kicks from the mark to determine a winner, we begin on p. 36 of the LOTG, "Procedures To Determine The Winner Of A Match", and find the 3rd from last bullet being relevant stating that "... the relevant Laws of the Game ..." apply.

From here, we go to p. 30 of the LOTG, "Law 14 - The Penalty Kick" and find a couple of relevant notes. First the referee decides when a penalty kick has been completed. Second, if the ball is in play and bouncing around off the GK, or posts, and goes over the line ... its a goal.

Now, lets dig into the Advice to Referees. Take a look at paragraph 14.13 on p. 76, which states:

14.13 WHEN IS THE PENALTY KICK COMPLETED?
The penalty kick or kick from the penalty mark is completed only when the referee declares it so, and the referee should not declare the kick to be completed if there is any possibility that the ball is still in play. In other words: So long as the ball is in motion and contacting any combination of the ground, crossbar, goalposts, and goalkeeper, a goal can still be scored.
In other words ... it's a goal.

This is summed up nicely in, "Yes the goal is good!", from Ask A Soccer Referee.

A neat slide deck of many of these finer points of taking kicks from the mark can be found here (.pdf) from FIFA.

Tournament season is upon us right now. We need to be ready to make a decision on these, when they happen.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Passing of a friend to THE game, and a friend of mine

Photo: Joyce Furia
I was deeply saddened today to learn of the passing of Joyce Furia. She was a friend to THE game for as long as I knew her, and for about 25 years, a personal friend of mine. Details regarding her services can be found here at Massref.net.

In thinking back over her body of work, I ran across this interview (.mp3) with her from October of 2008 and remain to this day blow away about her love and knowledge of THE game. Truly amazing.

Joyce and I have had several interactions on the field and off as referee to referee, assessor to referee, journalist to referee, and most importantly friend to friend. One time she had come to me genuinely miffed at how she was being treated by a particular (and now defunct) professional soccer organization. She had asked me to write them a letter in the hopes of helping them understand just how passionate she was, and what a contribution she could make to their organization.

Below is the unedited text of that letter form April 28th, 1999, and as I read it again today, it is as true now, as it was then.

Today my words can only convey how I feel, which is truly sorrowful that a good person has left us before her time.

I'll miss you Joyce.

**********************************************************************************

April 28, 1999

To whom it may concern,

I am writing this letter to highlight the extensive professional knowledge and abilities of Joyce Furia relating to the game of soccer.

I have known Ms. Furia since approximately 1989. Over this time I have worked with her in various capacities surrounding the game of soccer. We have worked together as referees, volunteered at various soccer related functions, and most recently participate with and enjoy her extensive articles on the men and women playing and officiating the game of soccer.  She has always amazed me with her thorough and accurate description of the game.  Additionally, her passion for the sport is quite apparent not only through her words but also her pictures.

Her knowledge of the game and her rapport with the players and referees is simply expert. She regularly interacts with some of the highest level of player and referee not only in the United States, but also in the world. These qualities, combined with her many years of experience within the game, make her an integral part of the world of soccer in Massachusetts.  In addition to her writing skills, her photography has and continues to capture the hearts of her readers.  With her photographs and articles, Joyce is entwined in our lives.  She acknowledges our achievements, comforts our defeats, and encourages us every day.  She allows us to see how we are perceived as players, coaches, and referees.  She captures our excitement and propels us forward to the next achievement.

Discussions with Ms. Furia are insightful and stimulating.  She draws us out, and helps us replay the events of the game.  As we grow in maturity and experience, Ms. Furia is right there beside us.  For 10 years I have admired Ms. Furia for all of these things, her knowledge, experiences, dedication, passion, skill, compassion, and most of all her rapport and ability to capture us and the game of soccer so completely.  I look forward to our continued relationship, her photographs, and words of wisdom.             


With Respect,
Peter S. Kokolski

Monday, June 20, 2011

What FIFA won't do, Korea will.

Lifetime Bans for Korean Players

(WFI) South Korea’s top football league is slapping 10 players with lifetime bans for their roles in match-fixing schemes.

“We made the decision, determined that this would be the first and the last match-fixing scandal in the league," K-League disciplinary head Kwak Young-Cheol was quoted Friday by AFP. ...

See the whole article here, courtesy of World Football Insider.

Kicking Back Comments: Kudos to Korea, and shame on FIFA. While certainly not easy to ban players for life for such behavior, Korea did as FIFA stood by. If I am the FIFA representative running the investigation on the three Gold Cup matches that are now under investigation for match fixing, you would bet, even if there is no fixing there, I would have an incredibly comprehensive report as to why and what happened.

Lots of people are asking "why?" during these "investigations", yet there seems to be very little coming back. Go figure.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

More than a badge

It can be hard to remember sometimes that the people behind those referee badges have friends, family, jobs, interests, and real life stuff outside of soccer. Believe it or not, there is a real person under these uniforms. JAFO put this quite elegantly in his post "Making Connections."

In my recent past as I try to find some form again after law school (other than spherical), I have had the opportunity to really reflect on what is important, and just how lucky I am for my family and I to have good health.

As part of my regime now I am cycling a bunch, getting ready to do some racing (gulp), but most importantly riding in a series of charity rides to help those who are inflicted by some really horrible diseases. Just as much as I am astounded by how many people are touched by THE game. I am even more astounded in how many are touched by such horrible ailments that cut life short or curtail it significantly.

All too often I cavalierly speak about this play, or that physical act, or fitness of a player or referee, many times forgetting about those who just never get the chance, or those who could at a point in their life, and now can't.

For my part in reflecting on those who may not have this chance, I am raising funds and riding in Ride the Rhode bike tour for MS in about a week. On this tour about 900 cyclists will ride 150 miles to raise funds for MS, a truly horrible and debilitating disease that makes life just that much more challenging.

If you have the time, please come on out and ride, or volunteer your time. It is an experience that you will never forget to help others, who may not be able to help themselves.

If you can't come out, please consider sponsoring me for this ride here. All donations regardless of amount are warmly accepted, are paid directly to the National MS Society, and are tax deductible as allowed by law as a recognized 501(c)(3) charity.

For a full BBB report on the National MS Society, please go here.

Yes, soccer is life, and sometimes life, like soccer, can bounce in a way you never expect. Please help me to make a difference for someone who may have caught and unlucky bounce.

Friday, June 17, 2011

FIFA gets it right this time

FIFA to donate $6 mil. in quake aid to Japanese soccer

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Soccer's world governing body FIFA has decided to donate about $6 million in aid to clubs and areas affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, Japan Football Association President Junji Ogura said Thursday.

Clubs including the three worst-hit teams -- Vegalta Sendai, seven-time J-League champions Kashima Antlers and second-division Mito Hollyhock -- will receive $4.5 million for repairs to their stadiums and training facilities damaged by the deadly quake and tsunami that also triggered a nuclear crisis in Fukushima Prefecture. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of the Mainichi Daily News.

Kicking Back Comments: As I have stated before here, FIFA has a tremendous capacity to do some real good in the world. This is an excellent example. They need to just get out of the shadow of speculation by placing a leader at the helm that stands beyond reproach and turn the body back into a true model for international football governance. Until then, FIFA as a whole is marred, and no amount of good in my opinion will make a difference.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Don't forget to have fun

2011 Massachusetts ODP Referees and Assessors
Photo courtesy of Elie

Sunil Gulati an Obama Bundler?

He is not, but I ran across an article form NPR titled,  Report: Obama's Big Money Raisers Get Key Posts, Access, Stimulus Dollars.

Clearly the article is referring in the picture to Donald Gips, the ambassador to South Africa, and Obama mega-bundler. I have to admit surprise though when I saw our president (Mr. Gulati) when I opened the article.

No conspiracy theories this time, just a chuckle.

Photo Courtesy of NPR

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Houston: We (still) have a problem!

27,910: The average crowd the host country U.S. has drawn for its two games at this month's Gold Cup soccer tournament. The average attendance for Mexico's three games has been 62,707.
Source: WSJ.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

South Africa ... a Year Later

Is the 2010 FIFA World Cup legacy all smoke and mirrors?

One year on - and not a single South African newspaper considered the 2010 FIFA World Cup Anniversary worth mentioning on the front cover (apart from a tiny Zakumi gracing theCity Press banner). Equally disinterested was the national broadcaster, which did not even devote a single show to remembering what once had been billed "South Africa's greatest moment in history" - and even 702 pulled its World Cup Special in favour of a discussion on how holiday homes can be rented at a discount in low season. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of Bizcommunity.

Kicking Back Comments: Interesting quazi-financial analysis that continues to ask the question, a year later, did South Africa really get something for the World Cup? Granted in the afterglow it is largely on the host country to make something of it with the recognition and monies that are residual, but were all those promises by FIFA fulfilled? Why does it appear that other host countries have done much better at capitalizing on the "afterglow" than South Africa?

The business of sport ... truly fascinating. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Opera singer Placido Domingo to save FIFA

FIFA turning to 'sages' for advice

FIFA is setting up the Council of Sages in an effort to repair its image after a series of scandals. The Council will consist of celebrities, including former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, opera singer Placido Domingo and football legend Johan Cruijff.

Football experts quickly accused FIFA’s President Sepp Blatter of trying to turn the International Football Federation into a circus. Mr.Blatter explained that the ‘sages’ would provide only counseling and exercise no powers. The chief of the International Football Federation couldn’t recall the name of the Spanish tenor as he talked to CNN reporters about the Council. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of The Voice of Russia.

Kicking Back Comments: For any who were on the fence regarding just how deep in turmoil FIFA is ... Sepp's creation of a "council of elders" should seal it for you as this is just silly ... and Sepp is being mocked for it.

In isolation Kissenger is a great choice to provide guidance to FIFA as his love and involvement in THE game is well known. Cruijff as well has clearly strong credentials. Domingo ... well ... other than a face to do PR spots, I'm not sure. In any event, the institution of "elders" is absurd on its face. Neither I, nor anyone else, based on the feedback, thinks this "council" will be able to accomplish anything, or will help in any way.

Well see what comes of it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Well ... at least they are not hiding the corruption findings

SEPP BLATTER LAUGHS OFF LAWYER’S DAMNING BRIBERY CLAIMS

SEPP Blatter’s attempts to brush Fifa corruption allegations under the carpet were slammed last night.

Shameless Sepp told the world he was “happy” a report into dodgy dealings at Fifa had found they were corruption free.

However, we can reveal that the actual report, published on Fifa’s own website, blasts the organisation for giving the green light to bungs and bribes.

The report was compiled by British lawyer James Dingemans QC in the wake of allegations made by ex-FA chief Lord Triesman. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of the Daily Star and the full report here (pdf), from FIFA.

Kicking Back Comments: So brazen that FIFA posts the report in full and does not seem the least bit concerned. Some great stuff in here about Jack Warner. Start at paragraph 10 on page 4.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Passing of a friend to THE game

The referee community was saddened recently by the passing of long time Fall River referee Victor Costa at the young age of 44.

He was an avid sports fan, coached for the Fall River Youth Soccer for many years and also was a referee for high school and college teams.

Victor is survived by his wife of 18 years, parents, his two daughters, Samantha and Sabrina, both of Fall River; a sister, Maria L. Silva of Fall River; and two nieces.

Further information regarding the services can be found here.

Upgrade Kudos

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

Well done!

Friday, June 10, 2011

No Comment

Exit may be on the horizon as Warner aims to give FIFA inquiry a miss

LA PAZ, Jun 09: Football and FIFA will have seen the last of controversial Jack Warner if the suspended head of CONCACAF goes ahead with his refusal to meet bribery allegations investigators.

Trinidadian Warner and Qatar’s Asian confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam was banned pending a full ethics committee hearing into whether they colluded to hand out $1m ‘buying’ 25 Caribbean votes in the recent FIFA presidential election.

The storm has overshadowed the early stages of the Central and North American Confederation’s showpiece Gold Cup which is under way in the United States. ...

See the full story here, courtesy of sportsfeatures.com.

Kicking Back Comments: Today would not be soon enough to expel Warner from FIFA. Give him the Process that is due, then thank him for his service, and show him the door.  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

You would think ...

... the video clip yesterday was a fluke and could never happen again, right? Or maybe more pointed, never happen in YOUR match.

Wrong! Take a look below. Goal, no goal, something else? Vote ==>




Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Don't Forget ...

... soccer is just a game, and the people who participate are the ones that count.

Please see "Bittersweet memories of a soccer player", from Paul Levy's blog, Not Running a Hospital to reaffirm this construct and it exists within the larger, and far more important construct we call life.

I would opine, if one loses sight of that fact, they have lost sight of THE game itself.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Bad Hair Day Indeed

Special thanks to Dick W. for bringing this one forward.

Take a read, comedy aside, if the send off was justified, how could it have been handled better?


Footy player Nathan Van Someren sent off for 'dangerous' mohawk

A FOOTBALLER in Victoria has vowed to keep his mohawk despite being sent off on Saturday "for having a dangerous haircut".

In a regional first ruling, Simpson midfielder Nathan Van Someren was given his marching orders midway through the third quarter of his team's game against Otway Districts in the Colac and District Football League, the Geelong Advertiser said.

Van Someren, who has played with his outlandish hair with Simpson for three years, said he couldn't believe it when umpire Don Wheadon showed him a yellow card for his hairdo. ...

See the full story here, courtesy of The Daily Telegraph.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

When the winner is a loser ...

Sepp Blatter may think he's won – but he's lost

What I know about the finer points of football could be summed up on the back of the proverbial postage stamp. But I do know a bit about politics, and football politics aren't so different.

Sepp Blatter thought he won at Fifa's jamboree in Zurich on Wednesday. But he didn't. He lost. Money made this scandal, and money will unpick it. ...

See the whole insightful post here, courtesy of Guardian.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Great Insight

Check out this quick and fantastic post by George Cumming, The FIFA Presidential Election – football politics in the raw.

While I muse about these topics from an armchair, and have not danced in these circles ... Mr. Cumming has.

From this post it is clear that not only FIFA, but CONCACAF too is a mess, and will be for some time.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Exclusive Interview with Chuck Blazer

Here is the most critical message:
"I still have my job ..."

See the whole interview here, courtesy of World Football Insider.

A good alternate title may be, "How to thwart a coup."

Ladies and gentlemen, there are some serious political games being played right now ... especially in CONCACAF.

Blatter Re-Elected as FIFA President

A sad day for honest football indeed.

Joseph "Sepp" Blatter reelected as FIFA president despite scandals in soccer organization

See the full article here, courtesy of the LA Times.

Killing the victim

Fifa delegates attack England as attempt to postpone election fails

The Football Association's attempt to delay the uncontested election of the Fifa president failed at the organisation's congress on Wednesday amid an outpouring of anti-English sentiment from some quarters.

David Bernstein, the FA chairman, made a late attempt to alter the agenda less than 24 hours before the assembly. He was afforded the opportunity to introduce his initiative with a speech to the full congress in which he stated that there would be no "proper, credible mandate" ifSepp Blatter's coronation proceeds amid widespread corruption allegations. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of Guardian.

Kicking Back Comments: Pathetic. Here was a chance to do some real good and wait until things got sorted before Sepp's coronation. The result, a resounding "no" from FIFA to actually try to start to fix what is going on.

Even one who is starting to try and do some good, Chuck Blazer said the FA's move to launch a full independent investigation was "... to little, too late." When the devil is it too late to try to right a wrong, or a series of wrongs?

With an attitude like that, nothing will ever get done. Oh wait ... that is what is happening here ... never mind ... FIFA is right on cue then.

While these comments about Blazer seem critical, they are not meant to be, as it is clear that he is one of the very few "playing the game" in an effort to pierce the bureaucratic nonsense that is FIFA, to come out with a just result.

Someone who can put immediate pressure on the Seppster to step down are the sponsors. It would appear they are none too thrilled about what is going on and are starting to voice it in various volumes.

If you really want to get his attention, have Coca-Cola drop its FIFA sponsorship ... then, and only then, would we see some immediate change.