Sunday, June 30, 2013

Will $100M End the Protests?

Brazil to get $100M from FIFA

FIFA president Sepp Blatter responded Friday to criticism of the cost of staging the World Cup in Brazil by pledging to give at least $100 million from profits back to the country.

Soccer’s governing body gave South Africa $100 million to invest in development projects after the 2010 World Cup, but it had not previously said it would establish a similar “social fund” after the 2014 tournament for Brazil. ...

See the whole story here, from The News Tribune.

Kicking Back Comments: Ignoring the obvious bribe FIFA is trying to pay the Brazilian people ... my question is ... will it work?

I am not at all convinced an afterthought of FIFA paying for some of the money they are going to earn is going to do it frankly.

Time will tell, but if I had to guess, I would say FIFA is in for a bit more.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Say it with me ...

FC Kansas City player copes with tragic death of husband

Jaime French stood patiently on the sideline, waiting to enter the first professional soccer game of her career. Before the whistle sounded, though, French took a moment to glance across the field and into the stands. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of The Kansas City Star.

Kicking Back Comments: Sadly, part of life is loss, and Ms. French certainly has endured her share given this story. The Game can certainly bind us, even in the face of such tragedy.

Soccer is Life.

Friday, June 28, 2013


How delicious: Sepp Blatter has kicked off Fifa's Arab Spring in Brazil

The Fifa president's masterplan to return the World Cup tournament to the continent of its inauguration is backfiring

It may be a little early to call this, what with several days of theConfederations Cup and an entire World Cup to run, but there's a nagging sense that Sepp Blatter is somewhat miscast as a Brazilian counter-revolutionary.

At time of writing, Fifa had yet to request covert support from the CIA in the form of arms shipments and financial backing. But with protests in Brazil continuing to make the most explicit of links between the money the country's government has spent on Fifa tournaments, and the money it hasn't spent on less uplifting things such as healthcare and education, Herr Blatter finds his usual arsenal increasingly wanting.

What is he to do, for instance, about the most prevalent slogan of the ongoing protests: "Fifa-standard", which deliberately applies the language of the World Cup bid to the comparatively unfavourable quality of Brazilian public services? In any normal circs, of course, Blatter would simply sue the placard-waver for unauthorised use of the Fifa imprimatur, but even his army of Zurich lawyers might struggle to persuade a court that demands for a functional transport system count as "ambush marketing". ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of The Guardian.

Kicking Back Comments: Absolutely brilliant article, worth reading every single word ... twice.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

I Think Thou Doth Protest Too Much

Fifa must silence strip-poker 'liar' - Ramos

Spain defender Sergio Ramos on Tuesday urged Fifa to denounce the Brazilian journalist who claimed that the world champions had played strip-poker during an alcohol-fuelled party at the Confederations Cup.

The report, which appeared on website Globo Esporte, said members of the Spain squad had invited women back to their rooms following the opening 2-1 win over Uruguay in Recife on June 16. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of SuperSport.

Kicking Back Comments: FIFA the great protector of rights. Ha.

I think this is a great ploy by Brazil to rattle a few cages before the final. Based on the reaction of Ramos, I think it's working.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Where are all the fans?

FIFA Disappointed with Under-20 WCup Attendance

ISTANBUL (AP) -The empty seats that have greeted teams at the Under-20 World Cup in Turkey are a disappointment to FIFA.

Jim Boyce, the chairman of the FIFA Organizing Committee for the tournament, said Monday that he was unhappy with the turnout that has averaged only 4,828 spectators for the first 12 matches at the six sites.

If the trend continues, it would be the lowest attendance ever for an Under-20 World Cup dating back to 1977 - the next lowest being an average of 9,667 in the Netherlands in 2005. Several sites, including Istanbul, were far below the average with the opening France-Ghana match only attracting 2,800 fans in a 50,000-seat stadium. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of NBC Sports.

Kicking Back Comments: To heck with FIFA's expectations, I do wonder what is driving this behavior. Only about 5000 spectators have turned up for the forst 12 match on average, and the opening match in a 50000 seat stadium did not even have 3000 spectators!

What's going on?

It's too bad too as the U-20 is a great place for players and referees to really sharpen up in preparation for tournaments like the Olympics and World Cup. It often provides glimpses of the future of many stars.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Trifecta from the Dutch Referee Blog!!

@DutchReferee has been busy and gives us (3) GREAT articles from the footballing world.

First, is Headbutting a Teammate, and I think @DutchReferee asks exactly the right question in what now? Or if the ball was in play?

Comment on his blog as there is a good discussion going!

Second, is the incident I was asked about recently in the Confederations Cup in, Change decision: Irmatov gives penalty … oh no, a goal. You can bet I am commenting on this one soon.

Finally is an AR turned graffiti artist in, Going crazy with referee spray at u21 WC. Note to the AR with the spray can ... you are supposed to mark 10 yards out ... it's just paint, not a forcefield in a can.

Great stuff from one of our own in Europe!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Assistant Referees, and the Ochocinco Effect

So many have certainly heard of Chad Ochocinco (Johnson) and his athletic exploits inside the field, and his silly, and criminal behavior outside the field.

Recently, he was in court answering for a domestic abuse incident. My comments here do not deal with the incident itself, but idea of decorum toward an official.

Take a look below as the incident that cost Chad several days in jail, and a probation extension.

Important in this is the fact that when in court representing a client, lawyers are officers of the court, and are honor bound to both advocate for their client, and the rules set by the court. A very high degree of professionalism and decorum is required. In large part, they are assistants of The Judge to arrive at the conclusion they do.

After the above incident, it was clear Chad breeched that decorum, but note it was not with the judge per se, or even the court, as it would seem clear that he was showing genuine affection. Think about this, instead of a pat on the bum, how about the back, a hug? That would have been ok, no?

What this (can be interpreted) to come down to was a player showing up a referee through one of their assistants.

Just like inside the field, a referee has to jealously guard their AR's before, during, and after a match, or the entire team can look foolish if one individual is treated disrespectfully, and no action is taken.

If you find your AR being demeaned, dissented to, or just shown up, a referee has to act, just as this judge did, to maintain respect for the process, and in our case The Game. This is true, even of the AR is wrong. Yep ... you heard it here. It is about maintaining integrity of The Game. Certainly correct the mistake if at all possible, but if the opportunity is gone to do so, move on to the next decision. It is more important to maintain the ability to make these decision unabated to allow the next one to be made, then have that ability eroded by bad behavior.

If the credibility of the officiating team is compromised through these actions, no decisions, good or bad will be accepted, and the day will be lost.

Note that 4th officials fall into a slightly different category to me. They are often the great pacifiers of a match and take tons of dissent so the rest of the team does not have to. That does not mean that they should be a sponge for abuse, but the threshold is much higher there.

My general instructions to my 4th Officials (outside of the technical stuff) was, We'll take care of all the stuff inside the lines, we need you to take care of everything outside the lines

This was generally followed by my guidance for dissent which was, Certainly don't get abused, but if you call me over, I will send someone off, so know facts before you do.

So while certainly a part of the team, they may be seen more as a bailiff. Critically important, but also not as subject to the rigor of folks on the bench and bar.

As an example of a good 4th, take a look at "Bull" from Night Court. Doing a critical job, with a great sense of humor.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Confederations Cup Canceled ...

... May indeed be the headlines shortly if FIFA and Brasil does not get their act together.

Confederations Cup: No plans to abandon event despite protests – Fifa

Fifa insisted on Friday that there were no plans to abandon the Confederations Cup in Brazil despite the protests that have affected the tournament.

Local media claimed the eight-team competition, which includes Spain and Italy as well as the hosts, could be stopped after an estimated one million people protested in cities across Brazil on Thursday. ...

See the whole article here, courtesy of The Guardian.

Kicking Back Comments: The fact that this has never been considered by FIFA, and I believe them when they say that, shows just how arrogant and misplaced they are.

I think these protests are small compared to what they are going to be for the World Cup when the Brazilian people get a real taste of the monies FIFA is extracting from their hides.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Once in a while, the NYT and I agree

A Lecture FIFA Didn't Need to Make

The action in the stadiums of Brazil became compelling by midweek, but the protests in the streets kept on swelling.

Neymar, the home nation’s hero, turned in another of his quixotic performances Wednesday in a 2-0 victory over Mexico in the steamy heat of Fortaleza in the Confederations Cup. He scored with a masterful volley but he disappeared for long spells. Toward the end, he dashed between two Mexican defenders, fooled them with his footwork and laid down the second goal to be scored by Jo. ...

See the whole article here, courtesy of the NYT.

Kicking Back Comments: An excellent article worth reading.

I suspect the Boo's will grow even louder before the Confederations Cup completeness.

I would say that FIFA has a real security problem on its hands ... but as we know, FIFA washes its hands of all issues of the type and relies on the host country for matters such as this.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Law 15 ... and so much detail

Opta Spotlight: Long throw-ins are en vogue in MLS, and that doesn't figure to slow down anytime soon

Rory Delap famously popularized them at Stoke City. And from all indications, Major League Soccer appears well on its way to perfecting the technique.

Long throw-ins may be a purist’s nightmare, the uncultured antithesis of the much-admired tiki-taka, but they’re clearly en vogue these days in MLS. Whether the ball is in the final third with a mass gathering in the box or a good chuck is needed to help clear the defensive lines, MLS teams are turning to the long throw-in with a frequency – and effectiveness – not seen throughout Europe. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of Yahoo! Sports.

Kicking Back Comments: One of the best pieces of advise I received as a youth referee, is that a throw-in is nothing more than getting a ball into play. It did not serve anyone to be overly litigious about "bad throw-in's."

In looking as the excruciating detail in the article, it makes me wonder if this is much ado about nothing. Interesting ... but it's just a throw in.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Another great one liner from Sepp

Sepp Blatter blasts Brazil protesters


FIFA President Sepp Blatter has urged protesters flooding the streets of Brazil to stop exploiting football to express their anger against the government, maintaining that the country is benefiting from investment ahead of the 2014 World Cup.

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets of several cities in the last week just as the world is focused on Brazil for the Confederations Cup, which serves as a test event for the World Cup. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of Fox Sports.

Kicking Back Comments: Best Line of the article:

"I can understand that people are not happy, but they should not use football to make their demands heard.'' Said Sepp Blatter to Brazil's Globo Network.

What a dastardly idea Sepp! Using football for your own gain or to promote an agenda! How outrageous!

I really wonder some days if he can go home, and look himself in the mirror.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

50K is not enough ...

Tens of thousands protest FIFA Confederations Cup costs in Brazil

Youths clashed with police in central Rio Monday as more than 200,000 people marched in major Brazilian cities to protest the billions of dollars spent on the Confederations Cup and higher public transport costs.

Rio de Janeiro: Youths clashed with police in central Rio Monday as more than 200,000 people marched in major Brazilian cities to protest the billions of dollars spent on the Confederations Cup and higher public transport costs.

The nationwide demonstrations, the most extensive since the unrest began 10 days ago, were relatively peaceful.

However acts of vandalism were reported in Rio and Porto Alegre. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of NDTV.

Kicking Back Comments: Okay FIFA ... it's your move. You can clearly see how local folks are going to react to you robbing them blind.

Are you ready for some unrest during the World Cup?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

And speaking of intellectual property rights ...

Tottenham's Gareth Bale applies to trademark his goal celebration

Tottenham forward Gareth Bale is attempting to cash in on his new-found fame by filing an application to trademark his goal celebration, a heart-shaped hand gesture he dedicates to his long-time girlfriend. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of cbc sports.

Kicking Back Comments: While his specific logo is likely a viable trademark, his on field gesture certainly is not as if you google "hand heart", it is pretty much out there in general use, and has been for some time.

For any interested, a fairly extensive discussion on the topic can be found here. I was interested to find the Bass Brewery Logo was the 1st image to be registered as a trademark in 1875.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Say what you will ...

For those who are regular readers here, you know I am outspoken about some of the shenanigans at FIFA and specifically how some at the top seem to have far more regard for their pockets, that The Game itself.

Well ... like everything ... there is another side as FIFA does some really charitable work as well.

One area that FIFA excels in is keeping track of the history of The Game. This can be evidenced by articles in the FIFA history section like "From 1863 to the Present Day," regarding the history of the LOTG.

Madame X, a former history teacher remind me often of how important staying connected to history is, and I agree with her in this case that such learning is a good example.

FIFA has a bone fide degree tract as well. Take a look here if you are interested in becoming a FIFA Master. It is described as:

The FIFA Master - International Master in Management, Law and Humanities of Sport.

Organised by the International Centre for Sport Studies (CIES) in partnership with three universities, De Montfort University in Leicester (England), SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan (Italy) and the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland), and endorsed by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the FIFA Master in Management, Law and Humanities of Sport was created to promote management education within the sports world. It has developed to become a top graduate programme developing all-round managers who can cope with the increasingly complex world of sport.

and apparently hold some clout as the best sports management program in Eurpoe, that is if you belive FIFA talking about themselves.

Either way, kudos to FIFA for keeping the flame lit on The Game, and not forgetting its roots.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

No soccer today ...

All please enjoy their Father's Day ... and reflect on those who have passed.

A brief history can be found here.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Beating up on the little guy in Brazil

SAP, Pfizer-Teva, FIFA, Agilent: Intellectual Property

FIFA Says Brazil World Cup Soccer Trademark Abuse More Than 2010

Soccer’s governing body FIFA said it found more cases of intellectual property infringement related to next year’s World Cup in Brazil than it did a year before South Africa hosted sports’ most-watched event in 2010.

Auke-Jan Bossenbroek, FIFA’s legal counsel responsible for protecting the Zurich-based organization’s trademarks, said action has been taken in the past six months against about 100 companies that don’t have permission to use protected words or logos related to the World Cup, which kicks off in Rio de Janeiro June 12, 2014. ...

See the whole article here, courtesy of Bloomberg.

Kicking Back Comments: I don't begrudge FIFA from enforcing their registered trademarks. They are property of FIFA and have every right to do so, and should for the future ability to do so.

Where I got a bit chapped was in the closing comment of the article, which states:

"Many of the cases in Brazil have been the result of local businesses not understanding the rules related to using World Cup logos, Bossenbroek said."

Now, not knowing the law is not an excuse, and I have to believe that most folks (everywhere), don't know the implications of trademark law. It does however smell a little heavy handed with a FIFA lawyer coming down on small shop owners in Brazil.

There are already wide reports of most locals not being bale to afford tickets, and FIFA has responded by providing 50K "free" tickets for use by the local folks (what actually happens, we'll see). 

I can see a similar argument here for "picking on" local shop owners for trademark violations. I'm not arguing that these are not violations, but there has to be a point of diminishing returns for FIFA. Not only is there a cost associated with finding these folks, but I also believe it to be bad form to make the guy wheeling around a trash barrel full of beer for $1 each take the photo of the FIFA World Cup(r) Trophy off his trash barrel.

It is all a bit too sterile for me. The locals are getting robbed blind ... again. Just let it go guys.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sex was the price to fix a match ... and lose a FIFA badge

Match fixing: ref Ali Sabbagh and assisstants get jailed

Lebanese football referee referee Ali Sabbagh was sentenced with a six months’ improsonment today for match fixing. His assistant referees were sentenced with three months jail time, says Channel News Asia.

The referees all pled guilty on the first day of trial for accepting free sex from a gambling-linked global syndicate. In return they were supposed to rig a match between Asian Football Confederation Cup match (second international level for club teams, like Europa League; JtH) on April 3 between Singapore-based club Tampines Rovers and India’s East Bengal. Right before the match the match officials were pulled out and a new refereeing trio was appointed. ...

See the whole story here, from Dutch Referee.

Kicking Back Comments: How pathetic is this? A good "blow by blow" account is here and details just how awful this was.

Honestly I can't get me head around this. A referee works a lifetime for a FIFA badge to get the opportunity to referee at the highest levels, and yet is willing to breach everything that badge stands for, for a one night stand with a prostitute.


But also an affirmation, referees are only too human.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Where in the world is THIS a send off?? (Violent image warning)

So take a look at this video from an Argentine soccer match.

Viewer warning for violent images.

Now my friends ... should this be a send off, an if so, where in the LOTG is it supported?

Operators are taking your calls now.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sepp playing the joker again

FIFA’s Blatter to Visit Palestine in July

RAMALLAH, June 11, 2013 (WAFA) – Sepp Blatter, president of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), is expected to visit Palestine in July to help alleviate the problems facing Palestinian athletes from the Israeli occupation, Jibril Rjoub, head of the Palestinian Football Association, said Tuesday. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of

Kicking Back Comments: FIFA is an incredible powerful organization that can do much to unite folks. If accurately reported however, (understanding this is a Palestine news outlet) Sepp's warnings of "Israel's membership to FIFA may be suspended", rings somewhat hollow based on what is going on in the region.

I am all for unification missions under the name of FIFA. There have been a few in the past and they serve as a great example of how people can have different goal, and exist together.

This is a bridge way too far however. FIFA should let the folks of the region determine their own future. Somehow, even a well intentioned trip by FIFA to one and not the other, seems inappropriate given the state of affairs.

Then again, I have sadly come to expect nothing less from our current leader of FIFA.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Peter asks an astute question in his post from June 5 (Kicking Back, When Does Reputation Matter) when he wonders if a player's reputation matters to how the referee handles him.  He says (and I agree) that it does matter, and then goes on to give some great advice about how to deal with it.  Did you catch his suggestion?  I hope so, as he put it in all caps:  TELL THEM!

This may be a difficult concept for some.  As referees, I am sure many of us feel that factoring in a player's reputation is wrong.  After all, we are a society that presumes innocence until proven guilty. 

But Peter is correct.  We must tell them what to expect.  And guess what, we already do!

I am not talking about the largely ineffective blanket warning to the benches before the game starts.  "I will not tolerate any dissent today."  That never really works in the manner intended. 

Nor am I speaking about finding some clever combination of words that the player will accept, although that is certainly a possibility.  (I once introduced myself to a coach known to be a problem to referees by offering, "Good luck today and I hope you are around to watch the whole game."  He must have gotten the right message because I never heard a word from him during the game.)

I am really talking more about OUR reputations, and the subtle messages we send from before the game even starts.  Like it or not, we communicate a heck of a lot more than we think, often without even saying a word.

Example from the State Championship tournament held just last weekend.  I observed two referees handling stressful situations.  One is a very young and relatively inexperienced grade 8 referee, about 5-1/2 feet tall.  The other was a mature grade 7 referee, about six feet tall with over 15 years in the program.  Advantage goes to the older referee, right?

Wrong.  Body language conveyed something different.  The rookie stood strait and appeared confident and assertive.  He looked people in the eye when he spoke to them.  However the veteran was slouched, and averted his eyes when speaking.  He appeared unsure and non-confrontational.  Both of those referees sent messages, and the players (and coaches and spectators) all received the message and acted accordingly. 

Oh yes, the words we choose also matter, as does our tone of voice, gestures, facial expressions, even whistle tone.  As referees, we are constantly sending messages about what we will or will not tolerate.  There is nothing wrong with this, in fact it is the essential tool we have in controlling a match. 

And it applies to everyone we meet in all facets of life.  Do not be afraid to tell people what you expect. 

Soccer is life.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The untimely passing of Rogerio Barbara

Soccer Friends,

We have just learned of the passing of one of our colleagues, Rogerio Barbara, after a brief struggle with throat cancer.  Rogerio was 59.  

Rogerio had been a referee since 1984 and hung up his cleats in 2010 after 25 years.  He was a State Assessor and had been assessing for over twenty years.

Funeral services will be on Wednesday morning in Taunton, MA.  Details can be found here:

I personally have had the opportunity to work with Rogerio as a referee, assessor, and peer and found him to be a gentle soul always with a kind word ready.

I will miss him, as will The Game.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

FIFA 14 ... Best Ever?

FIFA 14: Harder, Faster, Stronger, Maybe Better

Let’s just get this out of the way up front - FIFA 14 on the current-generation of consoles feels very different. I know there’s always a great deal of cynicism surrounding annualised games and how different things really are, but this year’s FIFA really has made some noticeable changes. If you’re set in your ways – you know, one of those people who sprint whenever they receive the ball – you’ll undoubtedly find FIFA 14 a shock to the system. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of IGN.

Kicking Back Comments: Gimmie, gimmie, gimmie!!!!

Madam X? I know what I want for Christmas!!!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Kudos to FIFA ... on some good words

Fifa racism measures could see teams expelled or relegated

Teams could be relegated or expelled from competitions for serious incidents of racism after tough new powers were voted in by Fifa.

First or minor offences will result in either a warning, fine or order for a match to be played behind closed doors.

Serious or repeat offences can now be punished by a points deduction, expulsion or relegation.

Jeffrey Webb, head of Fifa's anti-racism task force, said the decision was "a defining moment". ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of BBC Sport.

Kicking Back Comments: This of course is a good first step by FIFA. There are (2) concerns I have right out of the gate. One immediate, one short term.

My immediate concern is not everyone voted for these measures. I would be interested to know why not. While I am interested in whom, I recognize that secret ballots are needed to quell the chilling effect voting publicly on such topics would have.

My short term concern is when this all starts. As I wrote yesterday, there was an incident involving the WNT in Canada ... and documented evidence via Twitter, and likely the referee of racism.

Why not start right now.

I will see when FIFA decides to jump in, as in my head they are already critically late to doing anything except complaining about something they should be working to stop.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Defending her caution?

U.S. soccer player says Canadian fans chanted racial slurs at her

U.S. women's soccer forward Sydney Leroux tweeted Monday that she was subjected to racial slurs and taunts during her team's 3-0 win Sunday over Canada in Toronto.

Leroux, born outside Vancouver to a Canadian mother and American father, is a controversial figure in Canada because she switched national soccer allegiances. She played on Canada's 2004 Under-19 World Cup team before helping lead the U.S. to the Under-20 World Cup title in 2008. She has played for the U.S. ever since. ...

See the whole story here, from CBS Sports.

Kicking Back Comments: I am going to leave the whole racial side out for this, other than to say I'm sure there is a blue ribbon panel somewhere in FIFA occurring about this ... or not, because it's women's football. By the way, the CSA reported no such racial incidents, despite truly vile comments on Twitter, and collected by US Soccer.

My angle on this one is the celebration after Leroux's goal, even with the backdrop of the despicable comments strewn at her.

Let's go to some FIFA interpretations found here. Take a look at slide 50, 2nd bullet, which states the following should be cautioned when:

"In the opinion of the referee, a player makes gestures that are provocative, derisory or inflammatory when celebrating a goal."

Leroux's immigration to the US aside, her gesture with the crest of her jersey after scoring her goal certainly qualifies as provocative, derisory, and inflammatory. If this was done in the US and not Canada, I would not caution her, as in such a case her gesture would have been to an American crowd, and likely interpreted as an appropriate celebration. If gestured to an opposing player, not so much.

Context means a bunch in such celebrations.

Image if a US player scored a goal in Mexico City, and did the same thing. There would be genuine safety concerns, and a referee would do well to send off such an offender or "grave disorder" may soon follow.

Her teammates defending her while understandable, shows a clear lack of understanding the LOTG. I also don't think they cared as they were coming to the defense of a team mate. 

I appreciate the vile comment hurled at her, and the team, US Soccer, CSA, and FIFA's reaction to them ... should they ever come from anyone other than her team ... but Leroux is responsible for her actions inside the field and made her point, and was cautioned for it.

Let me me clear, the comments and actions to demean Leroux are outrageous and someone, anyone, needs to show some leadership in this regard. For the referee's part however, she did exactly the right thing and booker her.

To her credit, Leroux accepted it without further incident.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Congrats to Japan!!

Japan becomes 1st team to reach 2014 World Cup

SAITAMA, Japan (AP) — Keisuke Honda made sure Japan became the first team to qualify for the 2014 World Cup by calmly converting a stoppage-time penalty kick Tuesday for a 1-1 draw against Australia.

Tommy Oar had given Australia a 1-0 lead in the 82nd minute with a lob over Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawasahima. But a handball by Matthew McKay in the last minute of regulation set up the penalty for Honda, who beat Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer with a left-footed shot into the top of the net.

Japan needed at least a point to clinch a spot in next year's World Cup in Brazil from Group B in Asian qualifying. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of Yahoo! Sports.

Kicking Back Comments: Ok folks, we have (3) teams qualified now ... strap in ... the best is coming.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

When does reputation matter?

To start, lets take a look here at Matt Cooke's hit on Adan McQuaid in Game 1 of the Eastern Finals.

Now, in a bottle, Cooke got exactly what he deserved. He received a game misconduct (send off) and took no further suspension from the NHL. This was widely accepted by most knowledgeable on all sides of the issue.

But now let's start taking it out of the bottle with some of Matt Cooke's history:

My question to this audience is, what is a referee to do? Do they act proactively and "eagle eye" a player like Cooke until he does something, then send him off, or even get a bit more heavy handed?

Or, do you take each match as a "clean slate" and let it build up until something happens?

Where does the league come in ... and what if there is no league per se to administer punishments. A good example may be a youth league when there are so many participants that only the most egregious are dealt with.

For me, a referee has to do their homework and first understand the key match ups, stars, and villains.

Cooke is clearly a villain based on his behavior. This also go beyond a typical "goon" employed in hockey that is there to drop the gloves in tactical situations to make a point, he seemingly tries, and has succeeded to injure other players.

With this in mind, a referee can't prejudge what is going to happen, it has to happen before a referee can act. That said, a referee can certainly make a player like Cooke feel uncomfortable by putting them, and TELLING THEM, there are under extra scrutiny, in an artful way.

From there, if such a player strays from "the line", they should receive the absolute maximum allowed under the LOTG.

Some may say this is biasing a result based on a  players history, and that is true. Think about a couple of things however.

First, is a similar tact taken with players who simulate? They are generally the same players, and they flop, match, after match, after match. Referees see the pattern, and are less inclined bite the more this happens, especially if they have been suckered for a goal or two. A referee waits for the event, and then makes a determination ... with an eye toward history.

Second, is match management. What would happen if a player was allowed time and time again to come back and take shots to injure another?


Players would take matters into their own hands, and indeed may if Cooke tries something like this again in this series.

A referee will do well to protect the game from ANY who try to damage it.

On a final note, the league and team have responsibility here too, and I believe in equal parts. There has to come a point that these guys take a look at the cumulative effect of Cooke's hits, and make the courageous decision that he is there is injure, not play The Game.

Referees do not have that ability, and have to rely on incidents they witness to take action ... even severe action to protect the game.

I expect more from the league, and the team who employs such a troubled player.

Monday, June 3, 2013

U.S. Soccer Beats Germany (2nd Team)

U.S. Soccer Beats Germany 4-3: Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore Score Goals

WASHINGTON — The United States can head into a key stretch with some added confidence.

Clint Dempsey scored twice in a five-minute span of the second half and moved into second place on the U.S. career scoring list, helping the Americans edge a second-string Germany team 4-3 in an exhibition game Sunday.

Preparing for three World Cup qualifiers in a 12-day span beginning Friday, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann watched the Americans take a 4-1 lead and hang on to beat the team he helped win the 1990 World Cup as a player and coached to the 2006 semifinals. ...

See the whole story here, from the HuffPo

Kicking Back Comments: A good day in the park in fron of 47000+ to be sure for the MNT. This puts Dempsey within (14) of LD (seen here in his recent Cambodia walk about).

Before we go crazy about the result though (wink wink media outlets), lets see this one for what it is ... a confidence builder before going into a very tough road stretch.

Do you think the referee knew this before walking out yesterday? Should they?

How much does the type of match influence your approach (youth, amateur, professional, friendly)?

Should it?

My answer is "yes" to all of these.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Richard Nieuwenhuizen Trail Update

Dead Dutch linesman trial: suspects speak in court

The dead Dutch linesman trial started today in court. Suspects could speak in court today. Some did, but their stories didn’t always match. ...

A full recap if the trail can be found here, courtesy of Dutch Referee.

Kicking Back Comments: Sentence demanded was for 6 years ... when this first broke I commented about "Restorative Justice" and my concerns for it ... I hope I was wrong in my thinking.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

It's HOT Out There

Playing Matches in the Heat: Dehydration and Performance

Often matches are played in hot, humid conditions. In this environment, the body attempts to cool itself by increasing the sweat rate. Unfortunately, the fluid lost through sweat can lead to dehydration. Laboratory research has shown that even mild dehydration can impact physical performance, reducing strength, power and endurance. Researchers from the United Kingdom and Denmark approached the question of heat, dehydration and performance in a different manner. They took their experiment to the pitch and asked if competing in the heat influences post-match physical performance. Their results show that playing elite, competitive matches in a hot environment adversely affect explosive performance and that the change in performance may be linked to dehydration. ...

See the whole story here, from The Science of Soccer Online.

Kicking Back Comments: As we in the North East US have recently experienced, we have gone from winter to full blown summer with temperatures and humidity in the 90's the last few days.

I can not stress enough in how a referee is an active participant in a match as too should consider themselves an endurance athlete.

As such this requires exercice, diet, and hydration concerns to be successful.

While this particular article details the concerns and dangers of dehydration, particular attention should be paid as well to caloric intake and exertion level during a match.

An additional wrinkle in this, is a referee should also be aware of the signs of dehydration, as the referee is not only responsible for themselves and their crew, but for levels that do not have a trainer or medical staff available, a referee can certainly point out to the competent authority (e.g. coach) if they feel a player is in distress.

You always want to finish with 11 a side folks. A good referee, at all levels, works to keep it that way.