Thursday, September 30, 2010

Gamer Alert Part Deux!

Photo courtesy Columbus Crew
FIFA 2011 XBOX Challenge

The Columbus Crew is set to host the FIFA 2011 Xbox Challenge on Saturday, October 23rd at noon. All gamers will meet in the newly renovated Upper 90 Club at Crew Stadium for the chance to compete for cash prizes, Columbus Crew memorabilia, and bragging rights over participating Crew fans. ...

Read the whole story here, courtesy of the Crew.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tamberino stepping down from U.S. Soccer

Referee director Tamberino stepping down from U.S. Soccer

Craig Stouffer

It's got to be a bit ironic that a bit of non-D.C. United news that recently landed on my desk given the events of the D.C. United/Houston match earlier this evening. Nevertheless, here goes: U.S. Soccer director of referee development Paul Tamberino informed his colleagues this week via email that he will resign effective Dec. 1. An email to Tamberino seeking comment was not immediately answered. ...

See the blog post here, courtesy of the Washington Examiner.

Kicking Back Comments:
While I have not dipped into this story too much yet, this would qualify as a fairly significant shake up to MLS and US Soccer from a refereeing perspective. While no program is run by one man, Paul has been one of the familiar faces for some time.

More on this one to come as we close out this era. Early signs show caution in many for what is to come in 2011.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gamer Alert! FIFA 2011 Now Available In The US

Photo courtesy EA Sports
For those of us who play the game virtually as well as actually, EA Sports has done it again! Now available "FIFA Soccer 11" is available on US shores for about $55 and by all accounts it looks pretty good.

It is available for PS3, XBox 360, PC, Wii, DS, and PSP platforms. For those who do not know what that is and are still using an Atarii 2600 gaming system, you may be able to find something here.

To me, the most notable feature of this game is the fact that you can, for the first time ever, have (22) players compete against each other. A real (11) v. (11) game, online.

When you do thing EA will include a referee? Some assistants? Nah.

Good review of the game here, courtesy of

Monday, September 27, 2010


Photo courtesy
So there I was at the Revolution match the other night when they again seemed to implode near the end. At a point in the match there was a call that went against the Revolution, and a chorus of "Boooooo's" went out. My son who I was with at the match joined in and started to yell "boo" as well.

A brief yet interesting conversation broke out between us at that point.

PK: Why are you booing?
Jr.: Because everyone else is.

PK: Do you know why they are booing?
Jr.: No. Maybe because of the call the referee made.

PK: What was that call?
Jr.: I dunno. Handball?

PK: No. Did you see what happened?
Jr. : Nope.

PK: Then why are you booing?

From there just go to the top and repeat the loop a couple of times and you will get the flavor.

Point is that looking around not many people had much of an idea what had actually happened and how the referee handled it just right, regardless (irregardless in some parts of the country) of the reaction from the fan(atics).

Being a referee take a pretty thick hide, and an ability to filter the right protests to be considered for action. Everything else can be passed off as just noise.

Take heart dear refereeing friends, the next time you hear a chorus of complaints from a large group, it just might be because a group of lemmings just jumped off a cliff together. If you are doing your best, and think you got the call right, keep going. If you follow the lemmings, you take the chance of having your match go off a cliff, just like they did.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

They Should Have Sent A Poet

Kicking Back is refraining from comment except to thank the provider of this article.

Soccer referee arrested in traffic incident

METHUEN — A soccer referee on his way to officiate a game at the Tenney School field was arrested after he refused to stop for a police officer and yelled obscenities Wednesday afternoon, police said.

School Resource Officer Michael Farelli was assisting the crossing guard with the lower school dismissal on Pleasant Street about 3:15 p.m. when an SUV driven by a man later identified as Joel Silverman, 55, of Nashua, N.H. pulled next to him and yelled out the window "who the (expletive's) car is this and why is it parked there?" ...

Full story continues here, courtesy of the Eagle Tribune.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

NBA: Referee's Don't Count

The NY Times ran a piece the other day here talking about how the NBA intend to reign in players whining and in general carrying on in front of everyone when they may disagree with a decision from the referee.

I whole heartedly agree with the decision to do so as with any game, if it is not attractive to the spectators, there is a problem they need to resolve as it gets in the way of making money.

I can recall a similar problem a few years back in the "D League". There were some players who would get carried away, or even as a normal part of their lexicon would use the word "f*$k", as both an adjective and verb in every possible conjugation they could think of. The best of course when they used it as both parts of speech in the same sentence.

This had the predictable result of insulting the family of (4) who paid $30 of so to see a match on a nice summer evening on the cape ... for example.

This led to the predictable result of the league requiring the referees to be more stern about the language used by players and there was an expectation we would deal with it ... or the league will deal with us.

I have to admit, it did get better for a time, with the occasional slip that rang the top of the rafters. Over time it became more engraved to the players to just not do that ... and they responded well. I have my doubts personally about how the NBA players will react, but I guess we will see this season.

Where I laughed out load is in this part of the article:
League officials decided to crack down based on feedback from owners and market research.
While I agree this is a critical aspect of such a business, how about the abuse to the referees and respecting them as participants? How about respecting the game and not acting like a cry baby on steroids when something does not go your way? It takes market research and owners losing money to move the needle for something like this?

Yipes. I guess gone are the days of doing the right thing for the right reason. Generally it would seem our decisions are based on poll questions, and not a collective compass we have to keep our actions true.

We shall see how this one unfolds and how the NBA responds to the first sign of trouble.

I would opine the NFL has already summarily failed that test with allowing the Jets to allow Braylon Edwards a free pass on his recent DUI incident, as apparently there is no suspension on a first offence, regardless of how drunk a player was at the time of operation. Oh yeah, he's not being allowed to start on Sunday. I guess that counts.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Insanity Continues

From the other day I shared a story about a former FIFA referee who was arrested attempting to smuggle 6kg of heroin through a US airport.

I also commented how some became unhinged about associating acts (8) years ago, with an act in 2010. As another example of just how wild the imagination of some of these folks are, read the following about "the worst refereeing decisions".

Funny thing is ... I did not count any attributed to a referee. Many of these were from bad acts from players. Read on, it is a sorry testament to just how far people will go to blame referees.

Byron Moreno & the top 10 worst refereeing decisions in World Cup history
Official has been detained for drug smuggling in the USA

The disgraced former Fifa referee Byron Moreno was jailed this week for attempting to smuggle six kilos of heroin into the United States. The Ecuadorian is infamous in Italy as a result of his barely credible officiating during the South Korea - Italy last 16 match at the 2002 World Cup. remembers that game and looks back at some more shocking calls from the history of the showpiece event ...

Full fantasy fictional piece editorial, continues here courtesy of

... and after viewing the video of the incident here, I don't completely disagree with the send off to Totti (at the end of the video ... even one of the offsides is razor close). He sure fell awfully easy with such little contact. I don't know ... not so far fetched to me. In fact may have been real courage to send him off after a second caution. Gee, I wonder what the first one was for? Well, here is the report. Looks like he was booked in the 22'. Was that a good caution? Clearly if Totti did not have that, there would be no send off. Whose fault is this really? The referee? Totti?

Why did Moreno choose to send of Totti, but Webb did not choose to send off DeJong?

The other comment I see over and over speaks of "Italy's revenge" on Moerno ... this one is a "ponte vecchio" too far for my taste. One of the best parts is Ty Keough's "analysis" of the situation. For a guy who has some pedigree and at one time skill in the game, boy does he get this one wrong.

But like I said the other day ... We report, You decide.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

We Report, You Decide

Photo Courtesy Associated Press
Kicking Back Comments:
In almost every news story that I have read on this topic, I get confused. What exactly does an arrest for smuggling 6 kg of heroin in 2010 have anything to do with refereeing in 2002?

These articles, and some of their quotes seems to imply, and in some cases, just states, that this referee had a substance abuse problem that led to his on the pitch issues.

The following quote from the AP story below shows this willingness to blame the referee then, for what the man has done today:
Franco Carraro, an International Olympic Committee member and Italy's soccer federation president at the time of the South Korea game, said the arrest proves Moreno had problems.
Ladies and gentlemen, I urge great caution with these assertions. This one strikes a nerve with me as there have been folks in my career who have made erroneous assumptions about my past on pitch performance and incorrectly connected it to some present, off the pitch issue. Some of these comments smack of this rubbish.

While I don't discount that connections between on and off the field can and should be made, when it comes to something so serious, caution is advised. For me personally it was one of the larger data points in my choice to end my career when it did. I hope Mr. Moreno gets the fair shake he deserves as he traverses what would appear to be a difficult road ahead.

These comments are also momentarily ignoring the sheer lunacy of the physiology of blaming the referee after (8) years has past in what I would consider a pathetic search for vindication from Mr. Carraro. That alone makes me seriously question the competence level from this former coach and IOC member.

But as I state in the title ... we report, you decide.

Ref Moreno's arrest sparks anger in Trapattoni
ROME — Former Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni is hoping fans will look back on his reign in a different light after the arrest of former referee Byron Moreno in New York.
The Ecuadorean, blamed by Italian fans for the Azzurri's elimination from the 2002 World Cup, was caught on Monday at John F. Kennedy Airport with bags of heroin attached to his body, according to U.S. federal prosecutors. A judge jailed Moreno without bail on a drug smuggling charge. ...
Full story here, courtesy of the AP.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

To play or not to play, that was the question

A few days ago I was at a match where the conditions were such that the match was "abandoned" as the Laws Of The Game (LOTG) describes it. It got me thinking about the first time I abandoned a match, and what the reasons were, and where in the LOTG supports this action.

An excerpt of a wonderful treatise by Jim Allen can he found here at Ask A Soccer Referee.
We need first to differentiate between “abandon” and “terminate” a match. The difference between terminating a match and abandoning a match is a subtle one, but it is historically correct and supported by traditional practice. (Research into the history of the Laws will reveal this clearly; the IFAB now uses “abandon” almost exclusively, most likely just to confuse us all.) The referee may abandon a match if there is an insufficient number of players to meet the requirements of the Law or the competition, if a team does not appear or leaves before completion of the game, or if the field or any of its equipment do not meet the requirements of the Laws or are otherwise unsafe; i. e., for technical (Law 1) or physical (Law 4) safety. ...
This article is a must read for folks to be prepared for such an event which can happen quite often due to inclement weather. Ask yourself what you should be doing "when lightning strikes." (Sounds like good post material)

There is a second side to this coin, and that is how abandoning a match can leave a referee feeling. This is distinct for the proper reporting and procedures you must follow (note that some are league specific) after abandoning a match.

Some abandonments are easy to deal with after the fact. For example, lightning strikes off in the distance. You abandon. Case closed. Easy peeze. Similarly if a team has only (7) players and one gets hurt, do you abandon? Does it matter if they are only slightly hurt and can return, or when they leave is that it? The LOTG are clear about this, as is the Ask A Soccer Referee article. Abandon when the Laws say so, easy.

Some are very difficult. Players get into a fight? Benches get into a fight? Stands get into a fight? They all get into a fight? Things thrown from the stands? Things thrown from the benches?

All of this crazy stuff seems to fit into the other reason for abandoning a match under the "grave disorder" heading. This can leave a referee feeling empty and often asking the question, "What did I do wrong?"

Of course the answer may be that the referee could have done absolutely nothing to prevent the grave disorder from occurring. There are times when the players just don't want to play, or other events so far out of your control that not even the soccer gods themselves could have prevented what happened.

That should not prevent a referee from asking "why" however, as the answer they work to may indeed may hold some other clues for their match control.

All this for what you may ask? Here are a few concise points.

  1. Understand where the laws require a referee to abandon a match, and be prepared to do so should that scenario arise.
  2. Have an idea in your own head what "grave disorder" is. I have no definition to give except to say that if the safety of you, your team, the players, or spectators are involved, it may be time to call the match.
  3. Discuss these scenarios with your refereeing team and have a plan to deal with it, should the scenario arise.
  4. Write a report to the competition authority no later than 24h after the incident. Be objective, thorough, and precise. DO NOT SUGGEST AN OUTCOME. LET THE LEAGUE DECIDE. You are a reporter of facts only.
  5. Reflect on what happened and how you can improve. If for example the field was under water. Not too much to reflect on. If however the match ended in a fight from the players that would up getting a stadium of fans involved, some reflection may be warranted.
  6. Don't beat yourself up. Lean what you can and move on. These situations are often unique and very emotional for those involved, even the "simple" abandonments (e.g. unplayable field). Use it to improve on the next abandonment that may happen.

In these cases there are often no easy answers. Follow the laws, and keep everyone safe is all anyone sould ask.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Soccer Crop

Photo courtesy White Barn Farm
So over this last year my wife and I have partaken in a community farm (CSA) in Wrentham named White Barn Farm. It is a really cool place, run by some really nice folks who grow organic vegetables of which we purchase a share for the season and have enjoyed fresh veggies now for just about the whole year. For those interested they also have a roadside stand they run that is just out if the world!

Well, these folks put on a farm dinner the other night which was particularly excellent. They paired with Tastings (of Patriot Place fame who supplied their master chef for the evening) as well as Franklin Honey, and Burnshirt Valley Farms, for a tremendous organic and completely farm raised dinner. It was a fantastic event that I hope they do again soon.

We sat with some really nice folks and enjoyed conversation for the evening. One couple we dined with were the owners of Tastings and learned about their fascinating story of how Tastings came to be, and their deep roots in the community.

We also sat with a very nice couple from a Northwest suburb of Boston. Somehow the conversation turned to sports briefly and the gentleman shared his opinion about being an O-35 player, his team, how they were doing, and how much he enjoyed the league and playing. I was taken back in the most positive of ways at just how much he loved the game as he expressed himself. For whatever reason I did not expect to run into such a conversation in that setting.

Later on in the evening, I heard off in the distance someone mutter, "... Manchester United ...", and in the next sentence, "... Chelsea ... ." It was at this point in time despite being engrossed in a conversation I had to stop and listen for just a second to get some context.

A few places down I head one of the farm owners and another restaurant owner and chef discussing the days EPL results and their comments about the play and refereeing. Now I was blown away. Not so much about the topics, but about the passion that these folks were speaking about it. They were *really* into these teams and clearly were knowledgeable fans.

It was another reminder of something that JAFO says often, that Soccer Is Life.

This was yet another affirmation of that truism and a lesson for me of just how amazingly true that is.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Load your Arsenal

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger to face FA rap after angry confrontation with match official at Sunderland

Arsene Wenger faces the threat of a Football Association charge after appearing to place his hands on fourth official Martin Atkinson after his side conceded a dramatic 95th-minute equaliser at Sunderland last night.

The Arsenal manager confronted Atkinson after Darren Bent had scored some 15 seconds after the allocated four minutes of injury time had been played, having initially laid hands on the official to attract his attention. ...

Full story here, courtesy of

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Upgrade Kudos

Congratulations to Sam Mokalled on his upgrade to a grade 5 referee.

This particular move brings back very fond memories. Moving to, or retaining a grade 5 badge put you on the precipice of the heralded National Badge in the US and all the rights and responsibilities thereto.

Per aspera ad astra!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

It's Official, MLS Does Not Care About Your Vote for GOTW

Kicking Back Editorial:

Once again MLS Rumors is at the fore when it comes to breaking some domestic news as once again the Goal Of The Weak Week (GOTW) has been tampered with.

It would also appear that MLS just does not care about it. Well, maybe they do just a little as they seem to be looking for a few professionals in the area as indicated by their jobs postings.

Take a look here for the story from MLS Rumors.

I know we are just talking about GOTW, but it would be such a simple thing to correct with CAPTCHA or something similar.

In the mean time ... I will refrain from voting as it clearly does not mean anything to them.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cheating Is as Cheating Does

PK knows me well. I was reading his post just now and already making up my mind to weigh in even before he noted that I might.

I agree with most of PKs comments and need not re-state them here. I even agree that the umpire should not have changed his mind once he awarded the base, unless one of the other umpires stepped in to provide additional information.

But I might take exception to the comment that players are not to be blamed for taking advantage of umpire's mistakes. Yes, players are paid a lot of money to win and would receive criticism if they did not exploit every opportunity. But this criticism
comes from their manager, not from the spectators. Managers have a vested interest in winning games, and they need the players' help to achieve that goal. Spectators like to see their team win too, but they want to see it done fairly. I do not ever recall a time when there was public denigration of a player for failing to cheat.

On the other hand, I can remember lots of players voluntarily disclosing a mistake to the umpire in order to keep the game fair, even to the point where it cost them the game. Golfers do this all the time, in fact a young kid
from Wisconsin named Zach Nash had to turn back his medal for an inadvertent rules violation just last week. Sure he is not yet a pro, but it has happened at that level too, including Jim Furyk just last year.

Cheating is as cheating does. Please excuse the paraphrase of Forrest Gump, but I believe that our culture st
ill prizes fair play, and that spectators do not wish to see their teams winning in an underhanded fashion. Whether we believe him or not, did anyone feel all the good about the discovery that Bill Belichick may have cheated by video-taping opposing signals during the 2007 undefeated season?

The game does belong to the players, and it is up to them what kind of game they wish to have.


Photo Courtesy Boston Globe
For those who have not heard about this story, Derek Jeter when the Yanks were playing the Rays appeared to have gotten beaned with a pitch in the hands. A closer look showed that the ball hit the butt of the bat and not Jeter.

The plate umpire, Lance Barksdale (stats) told him to take his base for being hit. A trainer paid a visit to Jeter to check on him, but at the end of it all, Jeter took his base.

Joe Maddon, the Rays manager argued the call to the point of getting tossed for it, and at the end of the day the Rays won the game 4 - 3, and would appear to be (in the legal community would be called) "harmless error."

After the game, the real fun began with Jeter admitting he was not hit by the pitch and Maddon admitting he did not blame Jeter. No one openly faulted the umpire for the situation.

I did reflect on this a bit and there were a bunch of thoughts I had.

First, I noted that no one was openly castigating the umpire for the ruse. This is sharply contrasted in our game where referees are expected to be drama critics as well as arbiters of THE game. MLBs approach seems more sane to me. How can you hold an umpire, or any referee, responsible for the actions of a player who is purporting such an act? Now, this is not to say that the league should not later take action, such as a token fine for Jeter for his dishonesty to "steal" a base, not withstanding his piety later in the evening. Same holds true for FIFA and MLS who I know have taken action after the fact to an incident that required some further discipline.

Second, is that I agree with Jeter and Maddon. I don't blame either for their reaction. Mistakes happen, and there is no reason not to take advantage of them when they occur. This is one of the realities of any game played at that level. Participants are paid a lot of money, and would be sharply criticized if they don't take advantage of such situations.

Third, I agree with Barksdale's actions. He may have actually got clued into the fact that the ball did not hit Jeter somewhere between home plate and first base. Assuming he had the ability to change his mind once the base was awarded (JAFO may jump in here), it may not have been a good idea and may have actually undermined his authority and caused more issues if he brought Jeter back to the plate. Sometimes when you are committed, you have to roll with it. More than once in my career after I called a foul, a player would get up and smile in that knowing way that gave me the sinking feeling that they just stole one from me. My response, call the foul. To go back and untangle that mess can cause havoc.

Lastly, THERE ARE NO MAKE UP CALLS. Let's say you discover that you got juiced for a call (as I have many times). You can't make up a call the next time for the other team. This is patently dishonest and will instantly bankrupt your credibility with the players and coaches. Now, I have joked about it with players and even admitted that the player got one over on me, but, never, never, never make up a call. It turns a soccer match into a bartering session.

Keep in mind you are there not to be "fair" (one for red, one for blue), but rather to be "objective" (call 'em like you see 'em). Sometimes things are not even in a match, and a referee acting as one who tries to balance such a competition is asking for big trouble.

In my opinion, slap Jeter with a fine for cheating, or in the alternative make him *gasp* apologize for cheating, and leave the rest alone.

A story on the topic is here, courtesy of the Boston Globe.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Referee's to blame?

CFA Chief says China Referees to Blame for Bad Reputation

Comments from Wei Di, chief of the Chinese Football Association, raised eyebrows prior to the friendly international match between China and Iran on Friday 2 September 2010 at the Tianhe Stadium in China. ...

See the full post here courtesy of HK Referee.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010



Thanks to a loyal reader (thanks Jeff) I was pointed today to the UEFA refereeing page to find a story and video explaining the new five referee experiment made for the fans.

My initial reaction is how well done this is. A professionally produced spot that will run in stadiums and broadcast prior to a Champions League match.

Take a look at the video and story here, and tell me that this video banging on the "jumbotron" at your local stadium is not cool. Finally, finally, finally, something to get your blood going about refereeing. The closing line with Collina (who heads the UEFA referee program) is just fantastic.

Now, whether or not the experiment will succeed is a whole other story, and time will tell.

For now I am happy to see such a positive and public advertisement of what is going on. No need to keep it under the covers for folks to try to figure out. Well done!

Also, not lost on me was the quality of the materials provided on the site, as compared to FIFA on the same topic. While not surprised, I am amazed at just how wide a rift exists in the quality of materials. More on that soon.

For now, check out the article and video here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What Will Solo Do?


For those who follow the US WNT, you may recall the tirade by Hope Solo, not Han Solo, National team GK, not smuggler turned hero, (background here, official web site here) back in 2007 against Greg Ryan after losing to Brasil 0-4 in the World Cup in China that put the US into the 3rd place match.

Her comments were aimed at Ryan's decision to replace her with Briana Scurry the night before the Brazil match. To be sure Solo was not the only one being critical of his decision. Other notables such as Brandi Chastain were also particularly vocal. A full account of the events can be found here courtesy of It is worth noting, she offered somewhat of an apology on her Facebook page over the incident ... to her teammates.

Flash forward to August 2010 when Boston played Atlanta where Solo serves as GK where she accused Boston fans of being sexist and racist through their comments, which were apparently later validated and a very civil exchange of apologies occurred (source) between the teams, fans, and players. The whole incident was apparently chalked up to a handful of unsavory fans.

So while I believe there is no place in the game, or life, for such epitaphs, I also believe participants at that level have to grow a bit of a hide and be ready to suffer some public criticism, even some insulting behavior. The article talks about songs sung, and other organized chants. Well gee folks, when does it have to be sunshine and lollipops all the time, or in the alternative, silence? Has anyone gone to a match where the crowd chants "you suck" before the taking of a goak kick? How about this classic "A rope, a tree ... ." How many times has a 14 year old referee been told to go packing by a group of adults?

Flash forward to the other day where Solo goes after the league and referee. This one is almost laughable as her comments were odd, to say the least. [I have to admit a bias here as I have worked with Kari (Seitz) a number of times and found her to be a tremendous professional.] One of the more memorable quotes was:
"Its official, the refs are straight bad. Its clear the league wanted dc in playoffs. I have truly never seen anything like this. Its sad. ... I am done playing in a league where the game is no longer in control of the players."
You can see the whole mess here on Twitter.

Now I am curious to see what the disciplinary committee will decide this week about the tweeted comments (and please see the full story for the whole thing) as it would seem that there is a threat of sorts in there that she won't play if she can't get her way. We will see how serious about the league is regarding such comments about referees, and frankly the league itself. 

Imagine if nothing happens and YOU are the next referee who gets the pleasure of seeing her. Imagine further for a second if the shoe was on the other foot. What would the league, or US Soccer do against a referee who shot their mouths off about a player?

It may seem inequitable, but it  is the reality. Keep in mind too, that THE game is bigger that any individual.

In any event, given the string of incidents it would certainly seem there is a loose cannon on deck. I am curious to see how this is dealt with as it effects the womens league, the WNT, and the referees as well.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Upgrade Kudos

Here is another referee that has performed exceptionally and has received an upgrade for their efforts.

I want to take just a second a recognize this individual that has distinguished themselves in this regard.

Congratulations to Max Perkins for his recent upgrade to Grade 7!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Just who led the FIFA delegation?

FIFA envoy is the only one benefiting from worldwide 'tour'

President of Chilean soccer federation is moving up fast in the sport's world governing body, but his travels to cities seeking to stage World Cups are nothing more than a dog and pony show.

Sometime on Monday, an aircraft will touch down in the United States and from it will emerge a shaggy-haired, 49-year-old former journalist from Chile by the unlikely name of Harold Mayne-Nicholls.
That's when the latest round of fawning will begin. ...
Complete story continues here, courtesy of

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Girard's Law of 250

PK’s post this morning was a good one. There are hundreds of thousands of kids that will take to the fields this weekend, in small towns all across America. Many of them will be participating in their first game. Will their experience be a good one? Will they want to come back for more? Will they stick around long enough to get to the top?

Some time ago, I read a book about sales by Joe Girard in which he put forth something called “Girard’s Law of 250.” Girard asked lots of average people to sit down and make a list of all the people they knew and communicated with on a regular basis. The list was to include family, friends, co-workers, even the local grocers or anyone else with whom they were routinely in contact. Then Girard totaled up the number of names on each list.

Girard made an interesting discovery – on average, we each know and regularly talk with about 250 people! And every one of those 250 people know about 250 themselves! His point? Whatever opinion someone has of you will be shared with a lot of others.

Think about the opinions and impressions formed by new referees. One positive (or negative) comment from one knowledgeable person can make all the difference in the world to a young referee, and perhaps 250 of their friends and acquaintances.

Let’s try to keep them all coming back for more. The effects of our interactions with these youngsters go far beyond just one person.

Opening Day in Wrentham

With corruption week over, I am happy to move on to another topic. Today is an exciting day in our small town, fall opening day for the youth teams. It is a time to exercise my "cat herding" skills as assistant coach, but also serves as a great reminder about where the future of the game comes from.

Youth players and youth referees are not that far away from being the finished products we watch at the famous venues around the country, and the world in the big tournaments. Players and referees alike.

If you are out today watching a match, take a second and cheer an opposing player for a well played ball, or thank a youth referee for the job they did regardless of the result. It can make a difference in their career ... a big one. After all, you may be looking at the next US National team player, or FIFA Referee.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Spare the links, just give them the cuffs

So I have to admit that I do like suits and the accouterments that go along with them like braces (suspenders), pocket scarfs, and yes, cuff links. I was off looking for a soccer themed pair and ran across these guys pictured at the left. Really nice, and I may pick a pair up sometime. What I also found was another very interesting story from about, *gasp* more corruption where FIFA was involved.

The complete story is entitled, "Fifa investigates claims of Australian World Cup 2022 bid gifts." and goes into some details about the Australian bid committee showering FIFA delegates, and apparently their wives with gifts.

So let's face it, the World Cup is big business and there is a lot of money that changes hands. One figure of note: FIFA reportedly made approximately $3.2 Billion in ad revenue alone in the 2010 World Cup (source). So it is not a surprise that prospective host countries do everything they can to lure the Cup to their home soil. I write this without holding judgement on what actually happened as frankly, I don't know. This could be a simple gesture of good will. Heck, I have received gifts from teams after a match. It is a cultural thing, and should not be seen as anything other than a genuine token of appreciation. In fact in some situations, like in a locker room after a match, a referee shunning a small token of appreciation from a team is very bad form. So for me, no flies on Australia, yet, for offering small tokens of appreciation.

Now, pearl necklaces and handbags for the wives of FIFA officials may indeed breach that "small gift" criteria and may get the folks down under in some hot water. FIFA has launched another one of its famous investigations into the matter. I can't wait to see the letter they send Football Australia.

My laugh out loud moment was when I read the following from the article:

During a rocky period for the English bid last year, it faced criticism for giving the wives of each of the 24 Fifa executive committee members a Mulberry handbag.
The controversial Fifa vice-president Jack Warner returned his, claiming to have been "insulted" by the English bid team.
 Insulted Jack? Okayee ...

Take a few and check these out from, it paints part of the picture about just how hard folks work (above and below board) to get the Cup to their shores.

I hope the US delegation is working equally as hard.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Putting the "gold" back in the game?

FIFA may abolish extra time at World Cup

By Brian Homewood
BERNE (Reuters) - FIFA may abolish extra time at the World Cup with drawn knockout matches going straight to penalties, the federation's president Sepp Blatter said Thursday.
Blatter said in an interview with FIFA's web site ( that too many teams had played defensively at the World Cup in South Africa and soccer's governing body would look at ways of encouraging more attacking tactics. ...
See the whole story here, courtesy of Reuters Canada

Corruption week continues

I think MLS Rumors is turning into one of my favorite sites for some local flavor and fun stories. While not corruption per se, it somewhat seemed to fit. I caught this one the other day, how a faction of Seattle fans are upset about officiating in the league and are planning a protest on Thursday to demonstrate their displeasure.

Apparently this group runs a blog called the 12th Minute blog and has done a podcast to talk about how just how bad the officiating is in MLS. I could only get through the first few minutes, but will listen to the whole thing, I promise. Audio can be found on MLS Rumors and on the 12th Minute blog itself.

I have formed an opinion. I leave it to each of you to form your own.

THE quote however came form a comment to the story which stated:

Sounders FC Says:
Posted on September 7, 2010 at 2:58 pm

I love all these people saying something needs to be done. What do you think they can do ?? Do you think there are better quality referees who are sitting at home waiting to get the call or do you think we are going to somehow persuade the better referees from around the world to come and referee in MLS ? Despite all the training in the world there is always going to be an element of mistakes in soccer refereeing – it’s actually part of the charm of the game (although I agree it’s very annoying when it goes against you). There really isn’t much they can do in the short term. You could all help by not yelling obscenities at the 14 year old kid refereeing your childs rec game at the weekend as he/she may grow up to be part of the solution if you don’t put them off

Pure genius, and one who is clearly thinking beyond MLS to understand what it will take to get referees advanced in this country.

Well played Sounders FC, well played!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Taking a breath away from corruption week ...

Some pretty cool stuff going on in NY/NJ today.

FIFA inspection team hit the ground. Some highlights can be found at: and Some nice comments from Studio 90.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It just keeps getting better.

Kicking Back comments:
As many of us are aware, information is power, and selling information can be quite a money maker. While I am fairly certain that this act is from a rogue individual or small group of them, what came out for me was how deep the ties are within FIFA's political community. I suppose this should not surprise me at all at the end of the day, it is big business after all.

To me the most telling part of the article is here:
Match Hospitality, owned in part by a media company run by Philippe Blatter, nephew of the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, won exclusive rights to sell ticket hospitality packages at the 2010 and 2014 tournaments three years ago. The firm was criticised for over-pricing packages for this summer's World Cup, resulting in empty seats at most matches in South Africa.

Fifa in spotlight over passport identity theft claims

• Newspaper claims fans' details were sold on to touts
• Investigation into 'rogue employee' of Match Hospitality

An investigation is under way into allegations that the passport details of thousands of football fans were sold on the black market by an official linked to Fifa.
The Information Commissioner's Office, which regulates the Data Protection Act, confirmed it has launched an inquiry into claims that the details of 35,689 English fans who attended the World Cup in Germany in 2006 may have been sold unlawfully for profit. Preliminary investigations by the authority suggest that the details of 7,200 England fans have been traded illegally. ...
Full article continues here, courtesy of

Monday, September 6, 2010

MLS *REALLY* losing control now!

Kicking Back Comments:
Following is an excellent editorial piece from MLS Rumors as a follow up to their post the other day regarding the Goal Of The Weak Week (GOTW) fixing incident. It's funny too as what I have queued up for today was discussion about a FIFA corruption incident ... in fact there are a pair. One older news, one new.

I guess it is turning into corruption week here at Kicking Back, and happily, none have to do with referees. While sad in a way that there is corruption in THE Game, it makes me slightly happier that it is coming from a source that is not a referee. We get blamed enough for everything else after all =)

As the article indicated, Commissioner Garber is on Extra-Time this Tuesday, and we will see what he has to say, if anything, about the MLS response to the incident.

EDITORIAL: Why Would AT&T Want to Be Associated With Flawed System? MLS Censorship, Secrecy and Soccer in The USA

Stories disappearing, comments removed at will. It seems all in a days work at MLSSoccer. It is indicative of  a league hasn’t learned how to properly deal both “Web 2.0″ and social media and a league which has never learned how to properly deal with bad P.R.

We saw it for the very plainly last week when Columbus Crew fans upset with comments from writer Simon Borg last week commented on the power rankings he posted and had their Facebook comments removed. Matchfit USA ran a good story on that incident but in a nutshell: ...

Full editorial continues here, courtesy of MLS Rumors.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

MLS losing control?

If you are asking about their web site, the answer to some is a resounding YES!

Kudos to MLS Rumors who broke this story about how the MLS Goal Of The Week (GOTW) has been tampered with by some (very) knowledgeable fans, and assisted by a seemingly very poor quality web site from MLS.

Also, if you read the comments posted, this apparently is not new to most avid MLS'ers. Go figure. One particularly humerous comment stated:

wait. are you telling me that something about the wonderful league website is screwed up, amateurish, or down right stupid? i am shocked. shocked i say. and in other news: water is wet, the sun is very hot and the sky is up.


Now I am not going to go all grassy knoll, but it is worth asking the question if MLS has known about this ... or is participating condoning the acts? Just a question, and not a statement or accusation. (MLS legal please take note.)

For now apparently the page for this weeks GOTW is down and MLS may be rethinking its technology choices to avoid such obvious tampering in the future.

I highly recommend reading the full article here, courtesy of MLS Rumors.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sad to see him go ...

Photo courtesy
Brian McBride (background) has set his retirement at the end of the 2010 season.

I personally have had a number of interactions with Mr. McBride and they have always been tremendous. He is a first class person, who is also exceptionally talented.

While there is not enough ink in my proverbial pen to write about his accomplishments, a very nice synopsis can be found here, on the Chicago Fire web site.

He is in my opinion one of the modern greats. More professional athletes should comport themselves the way Mr. McBride has done throughout his career.

Friday, September 3, 2010

FIFA World Cup 2010 Technical Report ... Meh ...

Judge for yourself.

KB's opinion ... for all the "issues" with referees, there was no significant mention of the referees, their "issues", or proposed solutions.

The complete report is here (.pdf), courtesy of FIFA.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Once More unto the Breach, Dear Friends, Once More

Brilliant prose from one who recognizes where we are in our development as officials, and a stark reminder where we still need to go ...

See the article and video of the brutal event here, courtesy of For the Integrity of Soccer.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"I had a poor view of that particular incident." - Howard Webb

I should have shown Nigel de Jong a red card, says Howard Webb

Nigel de Jong
Photograph: Kim Ludbrook/EPA

When Howard Webb took the field for the World Cup final at Soccer City last month, he was cheered by the sight of a small banner amid all the orange and red, the flags and the vuvuzelas, a message of support from home, no less. "It must have been English," he recalled. "It simply said: Can't play, can ref."

That statement was to be tested in Johannesburg in a way that nobody could ever have imagined, with Webb issuing 14 yellow cards. "On the day of the final we had several briefings from Fifa technical and psychological staff, and I don't think anyone foresaw the game being the physical encounter it turned out to be. We talked about the emotion, the styles of play, but no one said anything about it being so physical. ...

Masterful article continues here, courtesy of