Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Programming Note - Lights Out

Due to Hurricane Irene and the resulting power outages, Kicking Back will have no new content for a day or two as we pick up the pieces.

As soon as we can, well be back at it again.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lightning Strikes Again

N. Korea women out of World Cup for deer gland doping

ZURICH (AP) – FIFA banned North Korea from the 2015 Women's World Cup after five players tested positive for steroids from traditional musk deer gland therapy at the tournament last month.

FIFA on Thursday imposed bans of up to 18 months on all five players, who North Korean officials said were treated with traditional therapy after being struck by lightning at a pre-tournament training camp. ...

See the whole story here, from USA Today.

Kicking Back Comments: This FIFA doc who is responsible for this stuff is no joke. Check out his CV here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

NO BADGE FOR YOU!

Six officials given life bans for match-fixing

(Reuters) - Six match officials have been banned for life over match-fixing in two friendly internationals last February that produced a total of seven penalties, FIFA said Wednesday.

The officials, three from Bosnia and three from Hungary, were involved in the Latvia-Bolivia and Bulgaria-Estonia matches played in the Turkish resort of Antalya on Feb. 9.

Latvia won 2-1 and the other game ended 2-2, all the goals coming from penalties including one in the first match which was taken twice. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of Reuters.

Kicking Back Comments: A well earned prize for those who dare to mettle with the fabric of THE game. I can only hope that FIFA looks inward and deals with its own institutional corruption as well as it has dealt with this match fixing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Decision Fatigue ... Another reason to train

Take a look at "Decision Fatigue. For doctors, too?" from Paul Levy at Not Running a Hospital.

While the article does not directly address the point, it does continue to underscore the issue of how critical fitness is regarding mental match performance. It is one thing to be able to "keep up" with a match for the duration, i.e. to be near the play. It is quite another to be fit enough to both stay near play, and not have fatigue effecting your mental acuity.

Bottom line is we humans make poor decisions when we are fatigued physically. As referees we need to be as fit as possible to allow ourselves to make the best decisions possible in the throws of a match.

Don't believe me? Try this.

Get a friend to go with you to an empty soccer field. Bring a substitution paddle if you have it. Position your friend at midfield with the paddle closed, and you start at one corner of the field.

Have your friend say "go", and make a 75% effort run (fast jog following play) from where you are starting to the opposite corner of the field. When you reach the opposite corner, sprint to midfield. During that time have your friend put up a number on the sub board for 5 seconds, be looking because your friend is not going to announce when it will come. When the runner reaches midfield, go back to that 75% run, by this time the numbers should be away. Continue that 75% run to the opposite corner.

Rest 30 seconds at the endline.

Do this (3) times and at the end, without writing it down during the run, repeat back to your friend what the numbers were, in order. You may be amazed at the results.

Got that one? Great!

Augment the drill with (2) numbers at a time, a red, and a green. (6) numbers in total. In this case, you have to remember number, order, and color for (6) ... not just number and order for (3).

Practical application?

Ever been running behind play and say an incident with two players but did not want to stop? What if that play goes on for a bit and you have a second incident? How about that problem player? Marquee player? After 90 minutes there is quite a list you may have compiled.

Staying physically fit will help when it comes time after 120 minutes to remember these details and act when you need to.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thick skin, and a sense of justice ...

Special thanks to Andy M. for bringing this one forward when I was away.

Women have made forays into men's soccer

Kari Seitz is one of just two female FIFA referees from the United States and has officiated the highest level of women's soccer, including last month's World Cup.

Seitz refereed the third-place game between France and Sweden, the top match a U.S. official could work in the tournament since the American team was in the final.

But Seitz, 40, said she would not be as good a referee if she hadn't worked both men's and women's soccer.

She has been a FIFA referee for 12 years and believes she is the only person -- male or female -- to officiate four World Cups. She also has worked two Olympic women's tournaments. ...

See the full story here, courtesy of ESPN.

Kicking Back Comments: An excellent read, with some excellent comments from Kari that puts part of the world of high level refereeing in perspective. It is clear the glass ceiling still exists for so many well qualified women referees. Kari, I believe is a trend setter, and an exception.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Acceptance Remarks: SAK Assessor of the Year Award

Friends,

While I am regrettably unable to be with you in person to accept this award, please accept my deepest thanks to all of you for allowing me the privilege to have the opportunity to serve the referee community as an assessor. Without you all, this honor would simply not exist as each of you is a vital building block of THE game.

This award has particular meaning to me being named after my father, Stephen A. Kokolski. It serves as a reminder that the refereeing community is a family, and one that I have been honored to be a part of for nearly all of my life. One that like a family, has its ups and downs, a black sheep or two, but always welcomes its own home without question.

This is an honor I shall cherish as it also serves as a reminder not only of the man, but also of his approach to make a point, without feeling like you were pointed at. You left feeling better than you came, and learned something in the process.

I will work in earnest to become worthy of this award, and hope to one day, fill his big shoes that I quite literally used to walk in.

With love and respect,
Peter Stephen Kokolski

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Constant Struggle

I admit myself in conflict when I write this. Not just that simple, should I have the vanilla, or the chocolate conflict. This is a real gut busting, head twisting conflict. You see, I was told recently that I was going to be the recipient of the Stephen A. Kokolski Assessor of the Year award.

I was mixed right from the onset. Elated to be considered for such an award, yet it had me looking back over the last year and ask the question, "What had I really done?"

I almost immediately pulled up some older posts from Kicking Back that I though would have been useful to folks, and read, and re-read them. From there I thumbed through almost all my assessments from the last year making sure they were on point and pithy as to catch the referees attention and impart a point. Further still I read some Emails from earlier in the year from referees that I interacted with to dissect my meaning and message.

Then it hit me.

I was assessing myself as an assessor.

I expected some type of temporal anomaly, divide by zero, space-time rip to occur. Clearly it did not.

It was however a reminder that everyone needs an assessor. Panning my mind further into the concept, I thought about my last employment review that I received, or, that I gave. I wandered around the last time I spoke to the soccer team I coach about their performance both as a whole, and as individuals. More personally, the last time I "assessed" my kids.

I could go on but I hope the point is clear. Assessment is a critical tool both introspective, extrospective, and from others. With these evaluation tools, we learn from ourselves, and those around us. Not just about soccer, but real life lessons. Truly important stuff, not where to stand on a corner kick.

So what did I learn as I assessed my assessments in light of my recent events you ask?

I have a long way to go, but am happy to put in the work to get better.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Programming Note


Dear followers of Kicking Back:
Over the next few days I am going to be traveling and "unplugged." During that time I do not have any posts "in the can" ready to go, and will not be near any place that I will be able to post. Please do however browse the archives on the right of your screen.

Also, there have been some interesting web sites that folks have pointed me too worth a look. Take a peek at:

US Referee Connection. Some interesting stuff worth checking out.
Pro Referee. Really good site. Run by pros. Period.

As always, JAFO and Nigel may jump in and sprinkle their wisdom on the topic du jour, however will be engaged no doubt in their own right. I will enjoy reading any posts should they do so, on my return.

Good week to all, and thanks for reading.
PK

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Let the games begin!

Soccer Body Said to Start Corruption Cases Against Officials in Caribbean

FIFA will start corruption proceedings against more than 10 Caribbean officials after a probe into allegations they took money from a candidate in the world soccer body’s presidential election, according to two people familiar with the matter.

FIFA, the sport’s governing body, on July 26 gave the officials from the Caribbean Football Union 48 hours to come forward with information about a meeting where Mohamed Bin Hammam, a one-time challenger to FIFA’s president Sepp Blatter, allegedly offered envelopes stuffed with $40,000. Bin Hammam, the ex-head of soccer in Asia, is appealing the lifetime ban he was given from the sport July 23. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of Bloomberg.

Kicking Back Comments: I personally think this is going to be ugly for the folks on trial. Despite what I am sure will be flimsy evidence and procedural issues, FIFA (Sepp) will be looking to "make an example" out of someone. These folks I believe will be his example, even if they do not deserve it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

@FakeSepp Revealed!

So as some from seen from me from time to time, I follow @FakeSepp on Twitter. He is hilarious and pokes some good fun at the current president of FIFA.

In a tweet from him on the 3rd, his secret identity is revealed, as well as some insight into the man himself, Zach Woosley. Not the model from Boston, the photocopier technician from Texas.

Check out the interview at fourfourtwo.com here, and some of Zach's work at SBNation.com.

Interesting insight into a soccer satirist.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ball First? So What!

How many times have we heard it? "... but they got the ball referee ...", which is generally uttered by a teammate of a player who, yes made contact with the ball, but crunched the opponent in the process.

For those who study the LOTG, the collective answer is "... who cares ..." if the player is significantly out of control, or the underlying tackle itself is not legal, even if they got the ball first.

Well US Soccer apparently feels that this message is not getting through clear enough. So in a memo dated August 5th, 2011 it makes this point to its refereeing corps. This memo is titled, "I Got the Ball."

While it cites a particular incident which is not particularly relevant beyond acting as a catalyst for the memo, it does enumerate several points to consider regarding tackles in proximity of the ball.

Directly from the memo:

Tackles occur regularly in soccer. Most of them are legal but some are not, and the difference between a legal and an illegal tackle has been discussed often in USSF publications.

The following points must be kept in mind by all referees and, where appropriate, assistant referees:
  • Getting the ball first does not make a tackle legal.
  • Not getting the ball first does make the tackle illegal.
  • Getting the ball first but following through with the rest of the body in a careless or reckless manner or using excessive force does make the tackle illegal.
  • “Getting the ball” cannot be used as an excuse for committing a tackle which is out of control.
Clear enough. Ball first? So What!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"The World Cup is not a Circus" - Blatter

Blatter: "The World Cup is Not a Circus"; Asks for Time to Rebuild FIFA

(WFI) FIFA president Sepp Blatter is calling for Brazil to accelerate its legacy plans for the 2014 World Cup, claiming the World Cup is not a circus that leaves nothing when the event is over.

"The World Cup is not a circus which arrives, stays for two weeks and is gone. There has to be the legacy," Blatter said in an interview with Sunday's O Globo newspaper.

Blatter said the most pressing problems in Brazil's 2014 preparations were different issues linked to the development of airports - FIFA's biggest concern - hotels and stadia, particularly Corinthians new venue that is being constructed in the eastern part of São Paulo. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of WFI.

Kicking Back Comments: For a guy who was steadfast there was "nothing to see here", and "we don't have an image problem", he sure seems to have come to grips/can't hide just how corrupt FIFA is, or at least how corrupt FIFA appears to be.

We will see in the next 3 years the ups and downs of how this plays out and if Sepp will set up his heir apparent (Teixeria) ... as a hero to bring the WC back to its full glory ... or a goat who let it fail.