Wednesday, October 31, 2012

This might leave a Mark

Meet Mr Controversy: Clattenburg is referee who loves the spotlight

As a top-class FIFA and Barclays Premier League referee, Mark Clattenburg is no stranger to controversy.

He is one of the new breed of celebrity officials, always happy to be the centre of attention in a world of glitz and glamour.

Even as he was warming up at Stamford Bridge before Sunday’s explosive game, he was aware that he was the centre of attention.

See the whole story here, from the Daily Mail.

Kicking Back Comments: At 37, Clattenburg, while reported as a smug son of a gun, is also one of the very best in the world right now and would seem to be on the precipice for an appointment toBrazil. These current allegations of racism may act toward sinking his ship regardless if they are true or not.

What stinks, is this would seem to be a no win for him. If he did it, he's out, and should be for such behavior. If he didn't, he may be out just with the taint of such an issue.

This one chaps me the wrong way and serves as a reminder just how fragile reputation is at the highest levels. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Will the US sue FIFA?

Exclusive: FIFA regulations could rule out a Qatar 2022 winter World Cup

Ever since the tiny Gulf state's upset victory over four other candidates in an often heated bidding contest, pressure has grown to take the unprecedented step of staging the tournament in winter, disrupting European fixture schedules but dodging sweltering mid-summer temperatures.

UEFA President Michel Platini is one of those leading the call for a November-December tournament but Qatar officials, who have continually faced unsubstantiated allegations of corruption, have repeatedly stated they would consider making the switch only if formally requested to do so by football's world governing body. ...

See the whole story here, from Inside World Football.

Kicking Back Comments: A line that caught my eye in the article was:

"Sources close to the bid process say any attempt to alter these conditions could result in a legal challenge by any of the four losing 2022 candidates, which could justifiably argue that they spent money, time and energy on their campaigns under the impression that they were bidding to host the World Cup in summer – and only in summer."

Now do I really think US Soccer will take action on FIFA ... no. In fact, heck no. In fact I don't think any "losing" country will as doing so would not please FIFA, and only England, Bin Hamman (who won his case against FIFA), and the media, have had the courage to stand up to FIFA.

Looks lime it is going to be a very, very hot World Cup in 2022.

I'm sure it will be fine ... it's a dry heat.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Massachusetts Futsal Takes Spain

After trip to Spain for a futsal coaches' clinic, Massachusetts Futsal director of officials Soorena Farboodmanesh is inspired to raise level of the game here

When Soorena Farboodmanesh works with referees in Massachusetts Futsal Association, his perspective on how the game is played is influenced by a recent trip to Spain.

Farboodmanesh, MFA’s director of officials and the reigning Massachusetts State Referee Committee Referee Administrator of the Year, was among a group of United States Youth Futsal representatives who attended a coaches’ clinic in Spain in September. The group visited a professional training facility and attended Spanish Futsal Super Cup games. But Farboodmanesh and the others were first exposed the game’s subtleties during clinic lectures by the technical staff of Liga Nacional Futbol Sala. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of US Youth Futsal.

Kicking Back Comments: While at times neglected, Mr. Faboodmaneshs' efforts are considerable, and certainly noteworthy as some of the very best in futsal today.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fifa speaks on Asiagate life bans

Fifa speaks on Asiagate life bans

LIFE bans imposed on 15 Zimbabwean players and officials for their alleged involvement in the Asiagate match-fixing scandal will take worldwide effect only after endorsement by Fifa, the soccer world governing body said yesterday.

Zifa last week slapped life bans from all football activities on players and officials including former association boss Henrietta Rushwaya and ex-Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of NewsDay.

Kicking Back Comments: When does immediate, not mean immediate?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Been There, Done That.

(Video courtesy of MLS)


Let's recall what happened to David Villa in "Should We Punish the Undeserving?"

Saturday, October 20, 2012

US Referees In Contention for 2014

Jair Marrufo, Mark Geiger Among Referee Prospects for 2014 FIFA World Cup

As countries spend the next year solidifying their place through qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, referees from around the world also are continuing to stamp their presence for consideration at the global spectacle.

Among the group of prospects are Jair Marrufo and Mark Geiger, who were among 52 referees to take part in a seminar in late September in Zurich as part of a provisional “open list” of referee prospects for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. ...

See the whole story here, from US Soccer.

Kicking Back Comments: While 2010 wasn't Jair's year for a variety of reasons, I look forward to seeing both of these guys go to Brazil in 2014. Both are exceptional officials.

I only hope the stadiums will be complete for them.

Friday, October 19, 2012

That's a pro move ... on the ladies

A-Rod hits on women at ALCS game

7:11PM EDT October 16. 2012 - Alex Rodriguez has been repeatedly striking out and playing so poorly lately that he has been dropped in the batting order and was even taken out of the New York Yankees' lineup on Saturday in an ALCS game vs. the Detroit Tigers.

While A-Rod's game at the plate has been abysmal, that didn't stop the highest-paid Yankee from working on his game with the ladies. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of USA Today.

Kicking Back Comments: We spoke about acting like a pro last week in Be Nice or Be Gone. While seemingly acceptable for players to act in such a way, I can assure you it is not for match officials (of any sport).

I have (2) personal stories in this regard, one as a high school player, one as a youth (very youth) referee. While innocent enough in both cases, neither turned out well for me, even absent my active participation. In both cases I was "spoken to", one by my coach, and once by my dad who was the director of officials in Walpole where I was doing in town matches.

It was a staggering reminder that there are eyes and ears everywhere who are ready to interpret what they think they observed, and not what happened.

To be a pro you have to "squeak when you walk", and that is no small feat.

Trust me on that one =)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Late Again ...

FIFA notes delays in World Cup preparations

RIO DE JANEIRO — FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke on Tuesday highlighted major delays in preparing six Brazilian stadiums for next year's Confederations Cup, a dress rehearsal event for the 2014 World Cup.

"At this time we are not in a position to have six stadiums ready for the Confederations Cup. What I can say is that we have less (than six)," he said in Belo Horizonte, one of the cities that will host the 2013 event. ...

See the whole story here, from the AP.

Kicking Back Comments: The above quote is hilarious. "... we will have less (than six)."

As is zero? Zero is still less than six, right?

Hang on tight for this photo finish.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

OH Canada!!

Well it took several months, but FIFA has finished its investigation into the nonsense that happened after the Women's Olympic Soccer Match where members of the Canadian National team assailed the referee (Pedersen) in the media after the match. Please do recall some of the incidents in the match, most notably the incident we discussed in 6 Second Mania.

In this case, Christine Sinclair has been handed a (4) match ban, and $3500 Swiss Franc fine. Odd thing however is that the CSA and FIFA have specifically said the punishment was not for he comments regarding the referee, but "another public incident after the match."

What the heck does that mean?

Well, no one knows, as no one is sharing. It would have made sense for the ban and fine for the comments to the referee, which she later admitted were in the heat of the moment, but for some other incident is a bit strange.

So go FIFA and how they choose to discipline individuals. While I'm glad they did something, it is far from clear why they did anything.

See "Sinclair suspension highlights FIFA's convoluted ways" from CBC Sports for an interesting take on the topic.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

You make the call ... Boo Boo version

Watch and react:

Let's say Red/Blue #8 landed the elbow to open the cut on White #5, and the referee is dealing with it. Based on the conduct from White #5, is there a call here?

Comment away.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Another great (soccer) article from NRAH

Take a peek at "A tale of two soccer games" from Paul Levy at Not Running a Hospital. It is well worth the quick read.

Friday, October 12, 2012

2 Balls + 1 Goal == Big Trouble

Special thanks to Erich and Angelo for this one!

Goal? No Goal? Something else?

Comment away!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Golf, Soccer, and Headbutting

Turkish golf president sorry for 'headbutting' journalist on first tee

The president of the Turkish Golf Federation has apologised for his part in a brawl involving journalists which threatened to overshadow the Turkish Airlines World Golf final.

Ahmet Agaoglu was accused of headbutting a journalist during the incident amid chaotic scenes on the first tee before Tiger Woods's opening match with Charl Schwartzel in Antalya on Tuesday. ...

See the whole article here, from the Guardian.

Kicking Back Comments: Check out the analogy Agaoglu made about crowing the 1st tee box. It would seem fairly clear where his allegiance lies, and where he believes most people will understand with his example.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Nichol for your thoughts?

Now I've done it.

I have put myself right between a rock and a hard place with this entry. To refresh our recollection, take a look at Should We Punish the Innocent? which details allowing referees in the EPL to administer (what I called) "speculative cautions" if they think (feel?) a player is cheating.

While I did not like the idea generally, I was offered a good discussion by an Anon commentator, and even doubled back on myself with regard to offside decisions, in thinking that "when in doubt, keep the flag down."

Now here we have Jim Boyce, VP in FIFA who took over for the still warm seat of Jack Warner when he was launched from the position, looking for video review post-match of diving incidents. His suggestion honestly is not unreasonable in this day and age, and is used in other contexts in many places today.

See "FIFA VP call diving a 'cancer'" for the complete article.

Critical incidents after a match are reviewed in some leagues, some disciplinary committees review on field incidents to stiffen, or loosen a suspension at times. All of this seems reasonable to me, what about diving?

Well, I am less clear on this one, and here's why. Besides characterizing diving as a 'cancer', which to me acts to trivialize the disease (I personally like plague much better), it puts some guy in a glass booth right in the path of altering the outcome of a match by making a decision that should be left for the referee.

Not on the surface this sounds like hubris, and I don't deny that is a factor. However, lets play out a common scenario and see where it goes.

  • Player had ball and carries it to opponents penalty area.
  • Defender challenges the player with the ball and contact is made which is not a foul.
  • Player with the ball simulates a foul.
  • Referee awards a penalty (incorrectly).
  • Team of fouled player converts penalty to win the match.
Pretty common right?

Now give the review is POST-match, does the result of the match stand? Why not only take action on the individual player, but also the team by not counting the goal? But wait, if there was no goal, how would the rest of the match gone? Was the converted PK the goal that broke the defending team?

I hate video review honestly. I do. I think it starts to sap the life out of any game that uses it to alter action on the playing surface. To me the most egregious is the NFL who is just one step away from doing something like American Idol, where they show the TV audience the play, and for .99 everyone votes on it during a commercial break. Popular vote gets the call.

MLB with balls hitting foul poles and the like I think is the best use as the distances are so far, and motion so slight, that this makes good sense to me.

I do agree with the use of video after the fact for suspensions and violent conduct after a match. In these cases the referee has made a decision and it is the length of time or fine that is changing, not the decision itself generally.

So for me, doing something like this after the fact just opens the box for tinkering with on pitch incidents that can have massive adverse effects to results. I would think we want to minimize the outside interference and "let them play", not wind up with 10's of people reviewing every inch of film only to have to wait a week for a decision on something that was done in an instant inside the field.

Take particular look at the video clip as well, Steve Nichol makes a great point of what a managers role is in such diving incidents. For those who have never had the pleasure of working with Steve in a referee-manager situation, it demonstrates what a class act he truly is.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Be Nice or Be Gone

I apologize for the delay in my writings folks, it has been a crazy holiday week. Family time, soccer, and to cap it off on Columbus Day, the Jamestown Classic, a small but tons of fun road race in Jamestown RI I was a part of.

During the weekend however I had a life lesson reenforced to me that has relevance inside the pitch. It is as the title states "Be Nice or Be Gone." Another way to state this would be to maintain your decorum at all times when representing yourself as a referee.

While the particular situation I faced is not relevant, or for that matter even worth mentioning, the take away was.

Failure to act professional can have far reaching consequences. As much as one may want to dress down a player or a coach ... maybe even a spectator, don't do it. It may be justified. Heck it may be needed for everyones sake, just deal with it above board (i.e. as the LOTG proscribe) and move on. To do otherwise invites trouble for you.

Here is a real example that I faced when my lack of decorum got me in some long lasting trouble.

I was refereeing a college match in CT. Good match, good teams, nice campus and facilities. One team was down a goal and pressing on the opponent in the last 10 minutes or so. Throughout the match the coach who was down a goal was chiding me about use of advantage and how I was not doing enough to let the play flow. I came to find out later, it was his particular "hot button" in general.

Well I had had about enough, and already working hard on the match, and keeping him in it, as sending a coach off in college is a one way ticket to not coming back to that school generally, there was a particular play that was the beginning of the end of my time at that school.

From the back, the team down a goal received a ball to their lone striker from a quick counter, who then was faced with (4) defenders to beat before being able to get to goal. No one else around, no reasonable chance to move the ball (35) yards for a reasonable scoring chance. She was fouled by the closest defender resulting in a free kick to the striker for the foul. Simple, right? Wrong.

Result ... a screaming coach for use of advantage.

Well, I had just about enough at this point and was going to give that coach a piece of my mind, and said in a raised voice "(the player) did not have a chance to make it through there to have a reasonable chance on goal."

The pitch went silent as it was immediately taken as a slight to the player and not a rebuttal to the coaches poor conduct. I actually heard a mom in the stands say "... oh my ..." in response to my comments.

The coach went silent knowing he had finally baited me to the point he wanted, and the match concluded with that team down a goal. We however were far from done.

In a week or so I received an email from the assigner of the league stating the coach and the whole team were insulted by my comments and I needed to apologize. It was a bit of an inflated claim I am sure, but the coach wanted his due, and to be honest the comment was intended for the coach, and not to disrespect a player.

I apologized genuinely to the player, and offered one to the coach as well because it was the right thing to do. The coach was wrong in his analysis of the play, I know that, and he may too. It was still important for me to apologize for losing my cool to demonstrate that I am a professional. It was wrong to lose it and not deal with the situation in a civil manner.

It did continue to cost me as I was not invited back to that school again for a match for either the men or women.

A big deal? Not really as I do college for fun, and I have seen my "days in the sun" with MLS and WUSA.

It does serve as a constant reminder however that being professional means being civil, even being nice, when you may not want to be. You may be 100% right about something, but to react inappropriately can cost more than the brief satisfaction you get from acting outside yourself.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Let's Start Here

So you want to be an NFL referee? As the replacement officials showed, it's not easy

When those newly appreciated NFL officials return in force across the land today to save football, among them will be a high school principal, a retired firefighter, a retired dentist, an inventor, a dairy farm owner, more than a dozen lawyers and financial advisers, insurance executives and assorted captains of industry.

Faces obscured beneath their caps, homogenized in jailhouse stripes, forgive them if they need a quarter or two to adjust to newfound celebrity buzz. Reserve a drop of sympathy, too, if they lag trying to keep up with an NFL game, played at lurching speeds by bison-sized men. ...

See the whole article here, courtesy of

Kicking Back Comments: Take a look in particular at the 2nd half of this article and how it closes. It makes me wonder, is it about the game, or the man.

Can just someone who is very knowledgable about a game be a referee, or is it something more?