Friday, November 30, 2012

Hawkins tries (and fails) to hock the Hawkeye

As most of you know, I am not a particular fan of goal line technology, so from the jump I have a bias.

I was painfully reminded of FIFA's impending implementation of goal line technology in "FIFA tests balls that 'know' when they're in goal", courtesy of 9 News. A link to the associated video can be found here which shows a brief interview with Thomas Pellkofer speaking about "GoalRef". Interesting technology with some interesting challenges in implementation (speaking as one familiar with the art and science).

In the article Pellkofer gives an articulate and balanced quote detailing GoalRef:

"The referee will get a signal when the goal has been clearly achieved. I'm convinced this technology will help the game to become a fair game, on one hand," Thomas Pellkofer, GoalRed operational manager, said. "On the other hand, I see that technology like other technologies in cars for example, these days, you have the brake controls, which will become the usual thing for the future."

I don't agree, but an articulate message. Think about red and yellow cards and their introduction in the 1970 World Cup from Sir Ken Aston. I do not know, but have to believe that such a change was likely not welcome either and may have even been seen as "an intrusion on the referee's authority."

Now lets shift to Paul Hawkins of the Hawkeye system, and his quote:

"You need to put the destiny of the match in the hands of the players. Officials are not there to be at the center stage there," Hawkins said. 

It was likely at this point Hawkins heard what an ass he was being and finished up with this:

"They're there to actually - you know a great official doesn't get noticed and this is simply technology to help them do their job."

Nice save Pauly, but not quite. Your distaste for referees was on full display.

Somehow making the argument this technology is needed is farsical. Why stop with goal line? Why not all decisions made by the referee? As I have opined before, what about penalty/no penalty? Almost like a goal, right? Caution v. Send off, sure that too! 

Where all this ends with a whimper is when the technology fails, as it always does. (Take a look back at "After the batteries die") I would not be so employable as an engineer if this stuff worked all the time. All it's going to take is one decision.

If FIFA still supports the technology after it is tried, and fails, it has fully tipped its hand in wanting to neuter the role of the referee in The Game as we know it. It's my opinion they have nibbled around the edges of that with some of the changes made to The Game, and restrictions and expectations on their referees, but this to me would be a very clear sign.

A little conspiracy theory-ish. Yeah maybe ... I may have turned a bend on this one. But like anything else, if you over regulate it, you make it so that no one will want to participate. Especially the artists on both sides of the whistle that just want to play.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

And I thought FIFA were crooks ...

... they have nothing on the ACC.

ACC sues Maryland over $50 million buyout

University of Maryland President Wallace Loh went on record earlier this year saying he did not think the $50 million Atlantic Coast Conference exit fee would hold up in court.

He will now get a chance to find out for certain. ...

See the whole story here, from USA Today. 

Kicking Back Comments: So let me get this right ... you have to pay $50M to leave the league? What a (beep)ing joke.

Here is their mission statement:

"The Atlantic Coast Conference, through its member institutions, seeks to maximize the educational and athletic opportunities of its student-athletes, while enriching their quality of life. It strives to do so by affording individuals equitable opportunity to pursue academic excellence and compete at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics competition in a broad spectrum of sports and championships. The Conference will provide leadership in attaining these goals, by promoting diversity and mutual trust among its member institutions, in a spirit of fairness for all. It strongly adheres to the principles of integrity and sportsmanship, and supports the total development of the student-athlete and each member institution's athletics staff, with the intent of producing enlightened leadership for tomorrow."

Why exactly does this cost $50M? Is this their "providing leadership" fee?

It continues to amaze me how much money is thrown around for sports. I certainly got it for international and professional play.

These are college kids folks. Again, lets put it in perspective.

$50M for leaving ... what a farce. I will follow this one in earnest through the courts.

By the way, this "fee" is about the GDP for Montserrat, the British Territory in the Caribbean (source).

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Interesting, yet misguided

So I was cruising Blogger the other day and purely by accident ran across e-Diski.com. In particular I got into reading "The European managers complain but refs have it easy", and found it interesting, informative in spots, but also misguided.

Of interest to me was the particular detail that the author cited percentages of issues. For example, "According to the results, 83 per cent of managers feel the handball law requires further clarification." I am particularly curious to see the source of this (and other) data cited. It was actually very interesting, even if not scientific.

The author does go into some good detail about this in a cursory analysis of what should, or should not be handling. I was particularly amused with the authors line regarding discerning intent and the "... gender of a goat." Trust me and read the article.

Where the author and I disagree is in regard to technology. He is a proponent, I am not. I think there are good points on both sides of the equation, I just happen to come down on the side of the human element deciding matches, not a NFL type review on even critical plays.

Where the author leaves his senses is here:

"Look, anything that gives advantage to the attacking team and good football should be encouraged. High level managers should be crying about the disallowed goals due to wrong offside calls from referees. Video technology should be employed for this and maybe even questionable offside decisions by referees should be punished. While I understand the speed of the game and the quick decisions they make, I distaste that with all my good heart. Managers and coaches also lose jobs because of those wrong decisions, the tactical mistakes they do and even the bad decisions players make.


Why should referees have it easy?"

He's kidding right? 

Assuming the paths to get to that level are equal, and I do not believe they are personally (as I think the number of correct decisions that are required to be made is much higher for a referee) it is more likely that a referee will not be given many "bites of the apple" at the higher (not highest) level before they are dismissed.

A manager, would really, really have to screw things up to get dismissed in a year. I can cite some MLS managers as examples ... 

A referee gets a very limited time in which to adjust at the higher levels. Let me share a personal story.

My first MLS match, I failed the assessment ... badly. I should have as well. I missed a wicked tackle that I gave only a caution for ... what should have been a straight send off. It was so bad that at the very next stoppage the manager substituted the player who committed the foul because he knew that I blew it, and anything close to a caution was going to get that player sent.

First MLS match a joyous occasion after in the locker room ... not so much.

It was clear, and I was told after ... adjust, or out you go.

This was reasonable to me as while there was some flexibility in getting acclimated to that level, no one referee is worth the "product" any league is selling. Certainly not a in a league that was struggling financially.

So I adjusted and had several more years in MLS with much better results. Learning along the way, but far smaller "teachable moments."

I have seen one and done referees, or a season and done referees. The "half life" of a referee is much shorter than that of managers, and is accelerated by not only incorrect, but also correct yet unpopular decisions.

Remember Esse Baharmast in the 1998 World Cup? Vilified for his penalty decision in Brasil v. Norway, even after the photo came out of a Brazil player with a fistful of jersey. How was his career impacted by that (correct) decision?

I have cited in the past, Koman Coulibaly, and how he remains in the "FIFA Witness Protection Program" to this day. Never seen since that match at any significant level.

While it is true that referees make decisions that can effect managers jobs, and we need to be sensitive to that, it is also true that referee's jobs are far more fragile on a match to match basis that anyone else who is involved in The Game. Player, General Manager, Manager ... no one.

The very best know that, and react accordingly to every challenge laid down before them.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Emirates to fly the FIFA coop?

Emirates airline gauging FIFA anti-corruption moves, public mood before extending sponsorship

LONDON — Emirates airlines wants evidence FIFA is eradicating corruption and the scandal-hit organization’s public image is improving before renewing its sponsorship.

The Dubai-based carrier’s $195 million, eight-year sponsorship of world soccer’s governing body expires in 2014. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of The Washington Post.

Kicking Back Comments: I am actually surprised that other title sponsors are not being more public about this. You can see the full list of sponsors here, and given who is on that list, I would think others would follow suit regarding FIFA's ethics practices.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Schopenhauer’s Law of Entropy

This "law" states in relevant part:
“If you put a spoonful of sewage in a barrel full of wine, you get sewage.”

Sounds like what can happen to a match if the referee is not careful.

Take a look at Reviewing MLS Officiating in 2012 by Randy Vogt which goes through some of the decisions made by MLS referees over this 2012 season. While I don't always agree with his analysis, the overall point he makes gets closer to accurate, which reads:

"I understand that one game does not make a season but we’ll find out in the next couple of weeks if the high quality of that performance led to Geiger being assigned the MLS Cup Final."

If you look carefully, this statement is actually a contradiction, as a referees last match, especially at that level, certainly impacts their next. Said another way, one match can end a season. Just like one spoonful of sewage spoils a barrel of wine.

This is one of the sad truths of refereeing at the very highest levels, where one mistake, a single mistake, can close out an opportunity to do "the next game." Think about tournament play. Something happens to a referee in the "qualifying rounds" and they may get lucky to move forward. Anytime after that however, not likely. 

Don't believe me? Ask Koman Coulibaly.
Who? Yes. Exactly. FIFA still has him in their "witness protection program" more than (2) years later.

Trust me on this one too, as I have lived it.

Now, the further away one drifts from the highest level of The Game, the less likely mistakes of any type will adversely impact a career, as less experienced referees are expected to make mistakes as they learn. In fact I would opine they need to.

One sad fact is that the mistakes are generally all that is remembered. It was not the spectacular advantage a referee gave to allow the game winning goal. It was not the hair splitting offside decision to allow play to continue to force overtime. It is the "bad" call that cost the home team the game ... even if they were already down (3) goals in aggregate play. 

Randy's article does well to point out this fact as well as the (however anecdotal) statistic of 9::1 good to bad decisions. I actually believe it is much, much higher than that. Remember the decision to NOT call a foul is at time more critical than TO call a foul.

Long story short is that there is opportunity abound for someone to pour that spoonful of sewage into your match. Guard each jealously as to do otherwise invites more trouble than you need.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

"It's Thanksgiving"

For a backstory on the video, take a look here from the Daily Beast.



Why would I do this to you all?

Two reasons:
  1. To wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving first and foremost.
  2. The soccer connection is that Nicole's dad Scott is a former professional player for the Tulsa Tornado, Oklahoma City Stampede, and Detroit Express, where he was named Rookie of the Year in 1983 and currently is a coach as Presentation College.
Say it with me ... soccer is life.

... and please don't shoot the messenger.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

An American in Qatar?

Fifa to investigate new allegations over Qatar 2022 World Cup bid

Fifa has confirmed that the recently appointed chief investigator of its ethics committee will look into new corruption allegations surrounding Qatar's successful bid for the 2022 World Cup.

Qatar, which hugely outspent its rivals on its campaign to win the right to host the 2022 tournament in December 2010, had discussions about a $1m sponsorship deal for a gala dinner organised by the son of a Fifa executive committee member later banned from football for three years.

The Sunday Times, which conducted the undercover investigation that led to the Nigerian Amos Adamu and other Fifa officials being banned in the runup to the vote on the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, revealed that Qatar's bidding committee entered talks to sponsor a gala dinner arranged by his son, Samson, on the eve of the South Africa World Cup in 2010. ...

See the whole story here, from the Guardian.

Kicking Back Comments: "The investigator" the article is speaking of is Michael J. Garcia, Partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP. My question is ... who picked him? He has some amazing experience based on his bio (I did find the time with ICE and Interpol interesting). Why him?

It looks like if given the proper authority he could do an excellent job. So why was he picked?

Ironic too that an American is looking into these matters. Why not name someone in the UK? They were equally as scorned as we were over the loss of a World Cup bid. An olive branch of sorts?

Makes me wonder ...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

HANDBALL!!!! Are you sure?

Monday Postgame: Handball law and order up for debate

A pair of 4-2 aggregate wins on Sunday sent the Houston Dynamo and the LA Galaxy back to an unexpected rematch of the MLS Cup 2011 final. The Dynamo got a first-half goal from Boniek GarcĂ­a and absorbed a late strike by D.C. midfielder Branko Boskovic to professionally see out a 1-1 draw that was good enough to advance.

LA saw their 3-0 aggregate lead threatened by a fired-up Seattle side, which took a 2-0 lead before a disputed penalty delivered a pivotal goal to the visitors, who advanced despite losing the second leg 2-1.

In today’s Monday Postgame, John Bolster takes a closer look at that penalty decision, and the handball rule in general, which is surprisingly misunderstood. ...

See the full story here, from MLS.com

Kicking Back Comments: A very good article indeed. One telling passage was this:

"The trouble is, most fans, coaches, and players — even some at the professional level — really do forget all about it. Or, more accurately, they’ve never looked at the letter of the law as it’s written."

... and the author is right. Just because one is a professional player or coach, has absolutely no bearing on if they understand the LOTG. It has been my experience many do not.

This is not a knock on players, and just a little one on coaches as their focus is winning games, not mediating them. That said, I would think a healthy understanding would be good for that audience. After all, referees at the highest levels are expected to know the personalities, tactics, and antics of the players and the coaches. I am surprised that many on "the other side" do not take the same time to understand our craft.

Next time you hear a player or coach, at any level, cry "handball", it is fair to pause and add a healthy dose of skepticism before rendering a decision. As you know, it is much more than meets the eye.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Now THAT'S Pressure

So I spent part of the day yesterday at the New England Over The Hill Soccer League championships in Lexington MA.

It was a spectacular day for soccer and the atmosphere showed it. There were people everywhere as the whole park was full, and you could hear goal scoring celebrations erupt at various times all afternoon.

In addition to the soccer, there was a very interesting exercise going on with some of the registered assessors. For many of them (myself included) it was a time to meet some of the requirements of the badge, and assess a match ... the same match.

Now this will provide an excellent measurement opportunity for the Mass Ref staff as it will provide a side by side analysis of the very same match. It also gives the Mass Ref staff and excellent opportunity for mentoring its assessors ... as it was designed.

Speaking as an assessor, this is a tremendous opportunity to be able to get some feedback on how I'm doing and how another saw the match. If we go really crazy, we can take the scores, and do a full analysis like mean, median, and standard deviation. This will actually paint a nice picture of just how "differently" we see The Game.

Even beyond that, and in reference to the title, it can be hard enough on a referee knowing there is an assessor out there, never mind a small army of them.

It was actually a funny sight, assessors lining and circling the field like we were in an Official Sports aquarium. You had to see it.

I personally give the referee great credit as it was clear, he saw us circling around during the match and responded well to it.

It is something to consider as an assessor in how a referee is going to react to different stresses we provide them, intentionally or not. Also, for referees, that flows downhill to players. What stress do referees put on players, intentionally or not.

Is there something we can, or should do to lower these tensions?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The nonsensical ravings of another in the media

FIFA: The art of defying logic and progress

Last month, FIFA decided to hand Christine Sinclair, captain of the Canadian womens' soccer team, her punishment for comments made during the 2012 Olympic semi-final match.

The only explanation they gave her for the four game suspension and the CHF 3500 fine was 'unsporting behaviour towards match officials'.

The alleged act was commited during a game marred with questionable calls. The US team whom they were playing, were even surprised at the turn of events. It left many a Canadians with a bitter taste in their mouths in the aftermath of the cliff hanger match where Sinclair scored all three goals owned by her team that day. ...

See the whole story here, from HITC.

Kicking Back Comments: I'm not quite sure where to go with this. It was actually pretty funny in spots since it is so misplaced ... so incredibly misplaced. Ms. Pradhan is clearly out of her depth.

I actually thought I was reading a piece in the Examiner on soccer for a second.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Check you rights at the schoolhouse gate?

Looks like BC star Stephanie McCaffrey had to check her rights the other day when she was suspended from playing against Penn State. A detail of her internet activities can be found here. READER WARNING for adult content.

The title comes from the case of Tinker v. Des Moines School Dist., 393 U.S. 503 (1969) where it was made clear by SCOTUS, that a student can retain their rights within the school to protest (black arm bands in the case of Tinker) provided a safe environment is maintained. A good brief is here.

Now, should she be suspended in expressing her 1st Amendment rights, however vile they were?

Yes, I think she should be, not only for the reason that sports are not "core" to school and as such Tinker would not directly apply. Sports are considered outside the curriculum and as such are generally governed by other agreements made between the school and student athlete and include things like morality clauses.

Why do I bring this scenario up?

Well, aside from the lesson we should all know that if you write it electronically, it is forever in this day and age. We can go right to the recent scandals rocking the CIA for that lesson, not some 18 year old at BC.

More importantly, as referees we are in a position of great responsibility at all levels. It may not feel that way when you are out in a town match doing U-6 ball, but it is true. We are judged all the time as referees, on the field or off, and have to be careful (the more careful the higher we go). Silly things on a Twitter account can cost you big time.

Granted, this is a silly incident, and I personally think to hang McCaffrey out to dry misses the larger picture that who she was talking about is a convicted child molester. Doesn't make her action right, but come on folks, lets put it in context.

Bottom like is as a referee, you check some rights at the door at times, and have to be careful how to share your opinion, especially if it is controversial.

I think we will soon see McCaffrey again, with a bit more sense about her.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Plan B?

Auto-Rickshaw and driver in India
I am a pretty lucky guy. I have a great family, good job, terrific friends, and get the opportunity to travel internationally.

On several occasions I have been to India and have always been amazed by the culture ... and the traffic.

While I would NEVER drive in India, I have had the pleasure to ride in an Auto-Rickshaw for short trips around Bangalore and always wondered what it would be like to live that life.

Well, enter M B Santosh Kumar who is living that dream. FIFA referee and Auto-Rickshaw driver. Take a look at the full story here, from The Times of India.

It is a stark reminder that refereeing is really a hobby, not a vocation. Anyone who choses this path generally knows that going in, and that it is a brutal balance of work/life/refereeing.

Some are fortunate to have careers that pay well, and allow flexibility, such as medical doctors, lawyers, or independent business owners. Others, like me, who were career minded, have a tough time balancing the work/refereeing scales, as the more responsibility you get in your job, or in your refereeing, means more time you need to put in. A vicious circle.

I was really reminded of that fact in this article when Kumar hopes for a job when he retires from FIFA, in recognition of his service to the country of India.

Be assured, there is no such tribute here in the US. When you are done, you are done and left to your own devices. 

Like my dad used to tell me, "You are not going to be able to make a career out of refereeing in the US. Do it for fun ... but have a career."

I'm glad I listened.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

No Due Process?

Fifa tells Asiagate protagonist Sunday to cool it

BLACK Leopards' former coach Sunday Chidzambwa has been warned by Fifa that he faces further sanctions if he persists with a court action he brought last week.

Chidzambwa wants to clear his name in the Asiagate match-fixing scandal in his native Zimbabwe. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of sportive.co.za.

Kicking Back Comments: If true, this hardly seems equitable. Why would FIFA not allow the coach to go to a recognized court of sport like CAS? Honestly, why wouldn't he after a lifetime ban from the country?

Do as I say, again?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Safety First + Hat Tip To HK Referee

So on this long weekend in the US, we completed our outdoor season. We were treated to an excellent match on the road, and while we did not come away with the win, the match was a microcosm of everything the boys learned over their playing careers to day. They executed very, very well as a group of 11 year olds.

There was one incident though that was of concern. In the 40' a keeper saved a ball, it rebounded into play, was shot again, and knock the keeper in the head - HARD.

The ball careened back into play and the referee allowed play to continue, despite the keeper being down, motionless, on the ground. It was a little bit scary frankly as we were unsure about the players condition.

Play was eventually stopped a minute or so later, and the coaches allowed to enter, after being admonished by the SAR to not enter into the field with out permission (technically correct, but practically wrong at the U11 level with a head injury), and all was fine after a throughout checkover by a medical professional.

So, what's the lessons for this youth level match?

  1. For a head injury to a player, stop play, and immediately let the coaches enter. Let them deal with the injury. DO NOT assist (medically) an injured player.
  2. If you are an AR, allow this entry to happen right away. Have the guts to take the heat from someone (like an assessor) who is dumb enough to challenge you on this point at the youth level.
  3. Know thy restart. A player was attended to, do they need to come out? Was the ball out of play? Are there any special circumstances for the keeper? Know these first, as in my scenario, there was a 2 minute discussion between the referee and ARs over what should happen. Restarts need to be automatic at all levels ... yes even U11.
Player safety is a concern at all levels. Granted at the professional and international levels there is gamesmanship that is used, and the injuries can be much more serious.

Keep in mind too that a referee is responsible for ALL the participants safety. There is no more clear example of this shown recently by Hong Kong Referee with his piece, An Explosion On The Soccer Pitch.

It is an excellent post. For those who do not read HK Referee, I strongly suggest you do, as the skill shown in breaking down critical incidents is top shelf.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Follow Up on the BFA

Politics, money and polemics shame country

Bangkok was designated in 2010 to host the top-flight competition, beating strong candidates China, Iran, Azerbaijan and Czech Republic. The BMA had promised to build a new stadium in Nong Chok District, east of the centre of the capital city.

However, things turned sour for the BMA and the project was only on paper for a long period of time. Critics blasted the poor selection of the construction site, deemed to far away from downtown. Many obstacles, including a change of government in 2011, budget cuts, delay in releasing money and massive flooding contributed to construction shortcomings. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of The Nation.

Kicking Back Comments: I am still wondering what FIFA will do if faced with similar challenges in Brazil.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy Veterans Day

With thanks to those who are serving, or have served.


Cartoon courtesy of Jeff Parker

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Best Comment Ever

Take a look at this story from Wired, How Game Developers Tackled the Soccer Slide in FIFA 13.

Pretty standard stuff, right?

Well take a look at the comments ... first up is below.

Absolutely classic stuff.

Funny thing is of course, it is a consideration in FIFA 13.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

That flushing sound you just heard ...

... was $40M going down the drain for Thailand.

Fifa pulls plug on Futsal Arena

Fifa has decided not to use the Bangkok Futsal Arena (BFA) to host the 2012 Futsal World Cup competition, including the final match, due to safety concerns.

"Although further significant progress has been made, including the installation of a pitch, the key criteria laid out following the committee meeting on Oct 31 have not been sufficiently met," Fifa Futsal Committee said in a statement posted on the world football governing body's website yesterday.

"The safety of spectators, teams and all other visitors to the stadium are of paramount importance. Fifa and the local organising committee therefore concluded that such a fundamental issue, as well as the functionality of core services and facilities, cannot be compromised." ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of The Bangkok Post.

Kicking Back Comments: Substitute the word Thailand for Brazil, World Cup 2012 for World Cup 2014, futsal for football ... and what do we have?

A prediction on what will happen in Brail?

It will never happen ... but unless something changes, the situation will potentially exist based purely on the media reports.

That will be $5.25 Million please

Calciopoli referees fined millions

An Italian court has ordered the referees involved in the 2006 match-fixing scandal to pay $5.25 million in damages to the Italian Football Federation.

Referee selector Paolo Bergamo received the heaviest fine of $1.31 million on Wednesday, while colleague Pierluigi Pairetto has to pay $1.05 million. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of Fox Sports.

Kicking Back Comments: And well deserved I may add. Sounds like a NBA case from recent history. That guy got what he deserved too. Jail time and all.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Black Eyed Peas Not Allowed At World Cup!!

Yes, it's a play on words, but is absolutely true. From the story below, you can see just how much money comes into play in the World Cup as traditional Brazilian fare won't even be allowed to share a stage with the far more common place McDonald's ... a key sponsor of FIFA.

I would think that FIFA would be generous enough to have an "appropriate amount" of local vendors serving local foodstuffs. Heck, this is part of the reason some travel to the World Cup in different countries, to experience things just like this ... not something they can get around the corner.

FIFA urged to allow Brazilian food at Cup

SAO PAULO: FIFA is under pressure to allow sales of a native Brazilian sandwich in stadiums at the 2014 World Cup amid allegations that the governing body is bowing to corporate sponsors such as McDonald’s.

The row centers on acaraje, an iconic black-eyed pea fritter from the northeastern state of Bahia, and a FIFA regulation that bars street vendors within a two-kilometer (1.2 mile) radius of World Cup venues.

A petition circulated by the Association of Bahian female acaraje vendors (ABAM) is demanding that FIFA guarantees space inside stadiums for its members. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of The Peninsula.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Late to the party?

Sport’s experts meet at FIFA to discuss concussion

Top international sports experts representing the IOC, FIFA and several other international sports federations met at the Home of FIFA in Zurich on 1 and 2 November 2012 for the Fourth International Consensus Conference on Concussion in Sport. The objective of the two-day event was to discuss and find a consensus on the best way to manage and prevent cases of concussion in sport.

Professor Jiri Dvorak, FIFA’s Chief Medical Officer said: “What we are expecting is to develop very practical, simple, easy to use tools that could be applied for coaches, for the paramedical personnel on the sidelines and in grassroots, where there is little medical attention. So we’re trying to develop simple educational materials for all involved in football and disseminate them through FIFA development programmes. With such powerful partners like FIFA, the IIHF, the IRB, the Equestrian Federation and the IOC we can make a big impact. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of Joy Online.

Kicking Back Comments: I am a little surprised FIFA is so late to the party here. The NFL has been aggressive in its campaign about concussions (after being sued). Other sports have followed in step in the US.

So much so that I was required to pass a concussion safety training course, and provide evidence of same before I was allowed to coach this year. The course is on-line, provided by the CDC, and can be found here.

While largely common sense, it is worth referees to take a look to at least be familiar.

Looks like FIFA's work is done ... just take a cue form the US guys.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

You of all people would know

FIFA president Blatter said English soccer ‘run by idiots,’ according to Coe

LONDON FIFA president Sepp Blatter once described English soccer as being “run by idiots,” according to Sebastian Coe.

Coe, who headed the London Olympics, worked with Blatter as chairman of FIFA’s ethics committee before taking a role with England’s failed bid to host the 2018 World Cup. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of thespec.com.

Kicking Back Comments: What's that expression about glass houses and throwing stones?

Actually I take that back, it would seem the opposite, that Sepp knows exactly what he is doing, and that, sadly shows malice, not incompetence.

Just a humble opinion.

Coe's book may be worth a read for this, and so many other reasons.

Friday, November 2, 2012

They should have sent a poet ...

How does that go .... truth is better than fiction. File this one there:

Sean Penn given a long to-do list by Bolivian president

LA PAZ, Bolivia — It's not clear whether Sean Penn knew ahead of his visit to Bolivia of the missions he'd be asked to assume by President Evo Morales.

Cabinet chief Juan Ramon Quintana told reporters after Tuesday's meeting that Morales asked the Oscar-winning actor to defend the chewing of coca leaf before the United Nations, lobby Chile to restore Bolivia's long-lost access to the Pacific Ocean and help persuade the United States to extradite a former Bolivian president. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of Oregon Live.

Here is some video of the charity match, just for fun, from CBS News.

Kicking Back Comments: Between the story and the pictures, I was struck like Jodi Foster in "Contact" and had so many thoughts running through my head, I knew they should have sent a poet to write this entry. (gag)

This is not a dig at Jodi, or "Contact" which is a great movie, a clip from that particular scene is below, but a testament to silly "charity" events, when there are far more serious things to be concerned about in the world than the legalization of the coca leaf. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

US Soccer names new women's coach

US Soccer names new women's coach

The U.S. women’s national team has a new head coach.

As of Jan. 1, 2013, Tom Sermanni will lead America’s pre-eminent women’s sports team.

Sermanni, a 58-year-old Scot who had a modest professional career, currently coaches the Australian national women’s team, which he has brought to international respectability in his eight-year tenure. He previously spent several seasons coaching in the old WUSA women’s professional league in the U.S. ...

See the whole story here, from Fox Sports.

Kicking Back Comments: Welcome aboard Mr. Sermanni. Sadly, there is nowhere to go but down, as the best he can do is stay the same. No small challenge there.