Friday, April 13, 2012

Programming Note


Over the next couple of days I am going to be traveling and "unplugged" as it were.

During this time, please feel free to browse the archives at right and before you know it, we'll be back at it with the spring season in full swing.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, April 12, 2012


FA should ignore Fifa and police its own game

The Football Association is full of talented people working tirelessly for the betterment of the game. Yet admitting at dinner parties that you work for the organisation these days must be a bit like confessing that in your spare time you microwave small animals on behalf of a consortium of leading merchant banks. Or worse, that you are a journalist. ...

See the whole story here, from The Telegraph.

Kicking Back Comments: There are (2) key passages that jumped out at me.

The first is the relationship between FIFA and any National Association:

But instead of recognising that it has the power properly to intervene, the FA behaves like the society hostess upbraided by George Bernard Shaw.

“Would you sleep with me for a million pounds?” legend has it the playwright asked her. “Yes,” came back the speedy reply. “Good, so would you sleep with me for a pound?”

“What kind of woman do you take me for?” she spluttered in indignation. “We have already established that,” replied Shaw. “We are now merely haggling over the price.”

Boy do I agree with this. FIFA should leave the associations alone to run their leagues. International play ... different story. I think that works and FIFA should appreciate it as FIFA does what is best for themselves, let the country folks do what is best as well.

The other passage is:

Professional referees have demonstrated they are willing to accept responsibility for their errors in the pursuit of improvement.

The FA, however, makes them look a body of men cowering behind procedure that covers up incompetence and punishes innocence. That is not the characteristic of a robust, self-confident organization.

To which I say ... CAN I HAVE AN AMEN!?!

Recognizing and adjusting to errors is a hallmark of the very best referees. The very, very best do this within a particular match so the adjustment is instant.

To have the league "whitewash" an issue when the referee genuinely knows he blew something is not productive, in fact it is counter productive. Now this is a fine balance as most folks are really undereducated to what may have actually happened, but if a referee screwed up, I think, and the author seems to agree, get it out there, learn from it, and move on.

If as referees we are not doing this anyway after EVERY SINGLE MATCH, there is something wrong.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A hilarious video ... with a serious message

Take a look at this ... it is hilarious.

Now take a read here, from Yahoo! Sports, and a look at

Not so funny anymore.

Stories regarding FIFA's rule and profit they took in South Africa are far and wide. I'm certainly not accusing FIFA of any of that, and not denying the organization to make money. However if any of these stories are true ... and there is some evidence to show that it is ... it will be really quite sad.

It looks like is following this, and I will eagerly watch the developments as the World Cup draws closer.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Lest there be any question ...

So Easter Sunday was, despite the colder weather, good. I watched all of the coverage of Tom Boonen's "2-fer" with his win at  Paris-Roubaix, after his win last week at the Tour de Flanders.

I was able to get out for a ride myself, no where near those speeds of course, but was thinking about the grand tour series that is upon us, and who these cycling athletes have respect for.

In looking around several pro cycling sites, I cam across the Katusha Team (THE Russian Global Cycling Project ... I love that) and took note that in all the riders bio's was the answer to "Who is your favorite soccer team?"

I found that interesting as you generally don't see "Who is your favorite NBA team?" when you see a bio with a NFL player.

Why the overlap? I think because soccer is so universal, that you can ask any (non-american) athlete who their favorite soccer team is and they will have an answer.

Soccer is Life.

By the way, lest there be any question that the Grand Tour season is upon us for cycling ... take a look below. It again looks to be an awesome time in Italy ... and with a start in Denmark.

I have to find a reason to get over there for work =)

Friday, April 6, 2012

More protests and complaints for Brazil

Brazil's World Cup Lag Grows Dire and Angry Words Fly

Brazil may be the world's soccer capital, but as the country gears up to host the World Cup in 2014, a war of words between the government and FIFA, soccer's ruling body, just keeps intensifying.

The hostilities have followed a predictable pattern: FIFA criticizes Brazil for being behind with preparations; Brazil gets in a huff; FIFA apologizes. Then it starts all over again.

In the latest round, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke caused a storm when he said that Brazil needed a "kick up the backside." Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said the secretary general should be removed from his post. Marco Aurelio Garcia, a foreign-policy adviser to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, exclaimed:"This guy is a vagabond!" ...

See the whole story here, from Bloomberg.

Kicking Back Comments: Very best line in the article is ""We want actions, not just more words," Blatter said."

How great is that? The ethics of FIFA is falling down around him and he is willing to sit back and watch as the governing institution for The Game crumbles around him.

Yet, you get anywhere near his wallet, and watch out, its time for action.

It is laughable frankly.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I'll give it to FIFA ... they published it.

Well kudos where they are due, and I openly give it to FIFA for publishing the report the Ex-Com received from an independent authority the Basal Institute on Governance.

The report can be see here (.pdf) from the site.

It is a quick read with nothing in it that is shocking or scandalous. It contains some middle of the road (and very important) controls on organizations like FIFA.

Of particular interest to be was the creation of term limits, which I think is needed in any such position.

To put it in perspective, there have only been (8) FIFA presidents ... ever ... since FIFA was created in 1904 (source). This makes the average tenure of a FIFA president 13.5 years.

Longest serving president was Jules Rimet (sound familiar?) with 33 years of service!

Now, is 2 or 4 years too short for something like this? I would be included to say yes, and believe on the order of 6 years is on target for such a position. That said Sepp is going to be pushing 16 years by the time he will consider stepping down.

I'd bet a wooden nickel that Sepp will be happy to implement some of these changes on his way out the door.

I digress however, I really do give FIFA credit for posting the report. It is a good first step.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Brazil v. FIFA, Round 2

Brazil Senate Reignites FIFA Spat by Canceling Valcke Meeting

Brazil’s Senate canceled a meeting with FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke, reigniting a spat with soccer’s ruling body a month after the South American country tried to remove him as the lead representative for the planning of the 2014 World Cup.

A Senate committee overseeing preparations for the tournament said the institution needs to be represented at a hearing scheduled originally for April 11 by its President, Sepp Blatter, and not by Valcke, according to a statement on the Senate’s website today. A new hearing is still to be scheduled, the committee said in the statement. ...

See the full article here, courtesy of Bloomberg.

Kicking Back Comments: This is starting to get good. Sepp is standing by his man, but Brazil wants nothing to do with him. Any guesses on what is next? By the way, Brazil has still not amended its sovereign law to meet FIFA's whims of serving alcohol in stadiums. Is it a money thing, or just Valcke?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Please stop talking ...

So big kudos to Paul Levy in my book for another excellent take on a youth soccer incident. One that I believe he read just right.

Take a look at "When "violent" is not "brutal"" from NRAH.

Let me say that I largely agree with Paul's analysis and appreciate his candor in the matter. After viewing the clip embedded in the article and the article itself I had two similar follow on points.

First, I really dislike the media. I recognize in a way I am part of the institution with Kicking Back, but there is a stark difference. I write to provoke thought through strong and sometimes "tongue in cheek" analysis. I do not like "sensationalistic" commentary.

I have commented about this in the past with some of the reporting that is done around the MLS and is intended to get a headline, not perform genuine analysis. This story strikes me as similar, lots of flash, not much substance. To somehow turn a foul from the back (that was not deserving of the punches thrown by the opponent) into a violent attack where "law enforcement" had to be called in and people were calling for "punishment" under the legal system is just ridiculous. Player lost their cool, yes. Parents behaving badly, yes. Media grossly inflating a "school yard" skirmish, defiantly.

Second, and please put this in the advice column, DON'T TALK TO THE MEDIA as a referee.

Now for those who are not familiar, there is a policy for how to conduct yourself, and it can be found in the Administrative Handbook here on page 43, and states:

Guidelines for Contact With Media

Game Officials should use good judgment based on the referee Code of Ethics when speaking to the media.

Game Officials should:

  1. Not, under any conditions, discuss the politics of the game or the sport. 
  2. Stick to what you know as it relates directly to your personal experience in the game of soccer. 
  3. Relate only factual information about a game. Do not discuss judgment calls that were made. 
  4. Avoid making declarations, which amount to speaking for other people. 
  5. Represent yourself, your state association and the game in a positive and enthusiastic way.
That aside, very little good can come from sharing an opinion with the media as a referee. Listen, I get it, it can be a thrill to be interviewed about something you love to do. I've been there, and made that mistake a couple of times, so I don't fault this referee at all as I am certain this was his first rodeo.

However, don't get caught off guard. This can indeed happen to any of us on any given day, and don't be fooled, reporters are not there to make friends with you when the cameras are rolling, just get a story. After the cameras are off, you're on your own and speaking personally I have found having a relationship with a reporter on a personal basis is not a bad thing. Like most things, it depends on the person.

So, if you find yourself in a similar situation ... heck even without the media, but parents asking "what the heck happened", your responsibility is to make a report to the league. Frankly that is your best response. If someone (other than the league) wants to know what happened, you are better off saying "I'm sorry, I can't discuss this until the league is made aware of the facts", or something to that effect. That of course is not reasonable if interviewed by the police ... but even there ... just the facts, not an opinion.

Don't forget, those who are asking may not be all good faith actors and may indeed twist your words to make a trap for fools. It is not unimaginable to find yourself on a witness stand defending your comments (or video of your comments) in some form of litigation.

You can't get in trouble for not saying anything to media/parents/coaches ... so play it safe, and don't.

Written reports and answering media questions are certainly a part of being a higher level referee, and aspects that we will address later in time as I personally have learned some brutal lessons there.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

UEFA Experimenting with Referee Speed Drills

Well UEFA had to get in on the technology experiments like FIFA. Just take a look at the video below. In the same vein of adding more referees to cover move of the field, here is an experiment where UEFA still has (4) referees, but in the interest of having the man in the middle more mobile, is issuing a Segway to each to allow them to cover more ground per match.

No word from IFAB yet, the World's Law making authority, if the measure will be taken up next year at the annual meeting where goal line technology was approved just weeks ago to move forward in the international game.

See the whole story here, from the Sun.