Friday, September 21, 2012

Friendly Match huh?

FIFA extends Luisao's two-month ban to all competitions

FIFA has announced that it has extended the two-month ban incurred by Benfica defender Luisao to cover all competitions.

The 31-year-old was already suspended from domestic games until Nov. 14 after attacking a referee in a preseason friendly against Fortuna Dusseldorf in the summer. ...

See the whole story here, from Yahoo Sports.

Kicking Back Comments: I've said it before, and I'll say it again, friendly matches are not friendly, they are dangerous to referees. This incident is another good example.

Here is a true story for you. In the mid/late 1990's I was on the cusp of being a National Referee for US Soccer. I was already participating, and refereeing D3 and A-League games on a regular basis, and 4th and JAR in MLS locally.

I was asked to referee a friendly between our local A-Leage team, the Boston Bulldogs (formally Worcester Wildfire). Before taking the match I asked who the other team was, and was told it was a group of "Brazillian All Stars." Digging just a bot deeper raised no other concern for me as I was assured, and I believe not deceptively so, it was a local group of former pro's just playing friendlies.

Well, you can imagine my surprise when a significant number of players starting that day were from the 1990 Brazilian World Cup Team including, Dunga, Branco, and Bebeto.

A friendly huh.

Coaching and playing for Boston was Liverpool legend, Steve Nichol. Can you see where I'm going?

Now for sure, Steve knew it was a friendly, and even before the match we joked and laughed with each other expecting a "friendly" match. It was clear however that when the temperature got turned up a bit, he would have none of it and correctly demanded equal protection for his players.

Friendly or not, I had to send one of his players for a tackle from behind in front of the Brazilian bench, and had to caution several players from Brazil for similar tackles, and antics.

It was not friendly, and could have easily got WAY out of hand, because like it or not, athletes (current or former) compete when you mix them together. It's almost chemical.

There is no clearer example than the O-40 "beer league" I play in on Thursday night. Guys really knock the crap out of each other. Cycling (as I write this) is similar too actually. While less contact is made on the bike, it is just as intense at times.

If this match was not in control, it would have damaged my career I am afraid to say. There comes a point when even town line scrimmages for a referee can be problematic if they go sour.

Always remember, referees are the "red shirts" of FIFA and US Soccer. We are, sadly, expendable.

So, when you go out to referee. Every time you go out to referee, be ready for anything. Even former World Cup stars coming out to play.

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