Monday, November 10, 2014

MLS Referee Arrested and Suspended

MLS referee suspended after workers' compensation fraud arrest

Jose Carlos Rivero will not work his scheduled MLS assignment this weekend after the Professional Referees Organization suspended him on Thursday for his recent arrest on two felony counts related to workers' compensation fraud.

Rivero, 33, was arrested by the New York State Police on Oct. 6 and released after being charged with offering a false instrument for filing and insurance fraud. He is alleged to have collected $14,000 in unlawful benefits through the New York State Workers' Compensation Board while gainfully employed, according to a release from the New York State Police earlier this month.

See the whole story here, from Fox Sports.

Kicking Back Comments: I am a huge fan of innocent until proven otherwise ... but ... when you are a public figure who is responsible for holding up the integrity of a public office, school, or sport (among other things), when you are legitimately accused of fraud, you need to go.

If I were running PRO, I would do the same thing here in suspending him immediately. Then when the proceedings are over, sever the relationship regardless of the disposition.

Seems horribly unjust you say? Maybe. But for a person in a trust position like a referee who is arrested and (likely) tried for multiple felony counts, I am not sure how you can get that trust back to remain effective in the position. We are not talking about a he-said she-said, we are talking about a multiple count felony indictment. Type and magnitude of the crime are material here. 

Recall that the authority from a referee is not from the LOTG, or the league, or some other 3rd source ... it is from the integrity of the referee themselves. I contend the source of ones' ability to manage a match inside the field is self generated and if you are not honest with yourself, you will have difficulty being honest in managing others.

Anyone every heard of Tim Donaghy? While the crime Donaghy was convicted and served time for is slightly askew from the crime Rivero is charged with, the damage to the integrity of referees and The Game is the same.

I wish Mr. Rivero good health and all the best in his next (non-refereeing) career because he should never see a MLS match again as an official.

By the way ... this whole soccer personality getting arrested reminds me of someone else I've been following in US Soccer circles. I Hope you stick around for that one.


  1. Suppose he ultimately is acquitted of the charges. What would be the basis then for barring him from refereeing?

    1. Thanks Anon, good question.

      First note that there is no guarantee of employment in MLS or otherwise absent a specific employment contract. MLS and generally all referees are both "at will" and also independent contractors which provides no specific protection for their employment. Any of us can be dismissed at any time for virtually any reason (absent "bad cause").

      While a very few of referees have an actual employment contract in MLS (I think 2) there is likely a clause in such that gives the right to an employer to dismiss an employee for criminal activity or other behavior that bring the parent organization into disrepute. This activity would seem to qualify.

      So as far as what vehicle exists even with an acquittal, it would fall into one or many of the above.

      As far as an actual (not at law) reason, it would be not only the disrepute such an individual has brought to MLS referees which is more baggage than we as a species need, and also what may become an inability to be trusted to manage such a match. Not from the perspective of able to get through a particular match, but rather the lingering though this individual being trusted to manage this match was associated with a felonious fraud matter.

      It may be a bridge too far for a group that suffers image issues already and thoughts of corruption even when none exists.

      Thanks for reading,

  2. Hmmmm if "associated with a felonious fraud matter" in the absence of a conviction or even official finding is an adequate grounds for disqualification, I think most of the leadership of FIFA should be worried.

    1. You would think ... but alas ... FIFA would seem to be an organization without any honor and is not concerned about how folks view it.

      They continue on in whatever manner they see fit without regard to crimes or how the world sees them for what they truly are ... a group of do nearly nothing political hacks that rob others in the name of The Game.

      Your right, many of them should be worried. A sad fact would seem that they are not which speaks volumes.

      Thanks for reading,