Monday, January 31, 2011

2014 and 2022 Media rights going (in part) to Al Jazeera

FIFA Signs Rights Agreement With Al Jazeera

Football's world governing body has announced that it has extended its Middle East and North Africa broadcast rights agreement with Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera to cover the 2018 and 2022 World Cup football tournaments. ...

See the full story here, courtesy of VOANews.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cool ... But a reality?

As I have stated here before, I am part geek. In fact I may actually be mostly geek. To that end I have been poking around waiting for the designs for the Qatar stadia and how they are going to be "carbon neutral", "eco friendly", and "able to be dismantled and transported for use in poorer countries."

Well, I just ran across one such article here from Inhabitat. An example is shown below.

Photo courtesy of

It is pretty cool stuff, and worth a look, if for no other reason, to see what is cooking with some of the architectural ideas in the future of stadium design.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A US Invasion?

Back in October 2010 we saw, and wrote about, the sale of Liverpool FC to the owner of the Boston Red Sox, John Henry. To be even more specific the club was sold to New England Sports Ventures of which John Henry is a member.

Well, the Beantown Bankers (as I am starting to call them) are at it again, and are now investing in the Serie A Club, AS Roma. ESPN is currently reporting that a final meeting to seal the deal is imminent. Thanks to Andy Weiss for bringing this one to the fore.

Finally, in what I consider one of the best "feel good stories" in a while regarding sports business, CNN and others are reporting that "angel investor" Robert Rich is making capital investments into the 9th division Bedlington Terriers FC.

This is truly an inspiring story where a man has realized his heritage, and want to give back to his community. He is reported to not be asking for a share of the team that draws about 120 fans per match, and the players get paid only expenses, not a salary.

Take a look at the story here from Guardian, and the video below from CNN. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Been down this road before ...

Mohamed Bin Hammam: Sepp Blatter has been Fifa president for too long
AFC head hasn't made up his mind concerning the elections

Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam insists that Sepp Blatter's long reign as Fifa president should come to an end, as it has begun to hurt the credibility of the governing body of world football.

Now the AFC head believes that the exit of the 74-year-old would ensure that Fifa would not be defenceless against accusations of corruption in the organisation. ...

See the full story here, courtesy of

Thursday, January 27, 2011

And the reason that the whole thing started

Why is football knowledge measured by the offside rule?

The row over remarks made by Sky Sports presenters Richard Keys and Andy Gray about female assistant referee Sian Massey centres on the offside rules. But why is the offside law such a benchmark of football knowledge? ...

See the full story here, courtesy of the BBC.

Kicking Back Comments:
One thing that my father taught me when I would referee as a youth is a healthy disrespect for authority. While like most kids I would imagine, I was taught by my parents to always be polite, say "please", and "thank you", and generally be nice. One other lesson that was taught was to "respect your elders", which was essentially everyone else at my tender age as I started refereeing.

My dad carved out an exception for me though. He allowed me to use appropriate language and acts to make and defend my decisions inside the field. Essentially I was allowed to (appropriately) stand my ground with my decisions regardless of how the adults involved felt about it.

This was very liberating to me personally as it allowed me to do what I thought was right and appropriately challenge some of the assertions. This had a positive effect of letting some of these youth coaches know I was not a doormat and they would get comments back to out of bounds criticisms. This may actually have been the genesis of the BAYS "Zero Tolerance" policy, which was derived shortly thereafter with my dad leading the charge, while serving as BAYS referee commissioner, and thankfully with the full board in support.  

Granted in my youth I blew it a few times and constructive comments at times degraded slightly (not overly). Also, I was not always correct in my interpretation about what I was calling. Fortunately I was not a prisoner to "confirmation bias" and even then had a few folks who would gently guide me in being less aggressive with my comments and a better listener and referee.

Later in my career what I found was that there are many, many people who really don't understand the LOTG, as the "experts" here clearly demonstrated. I say that fully realizing that your typical youth parent does not, as would your typical adult player. Where I became surprised was my time in MLS and the brief touch with the international game that a percentage of those players and coaches do not understand aspects of the LOTG either. I was floored and continued my policy of challenging the incorrect ... in a more appropriate way these days.

Now beware, there are folks that know an awful lot about the game that inhabit youth fields, and certainly at the professional and international level. Don't assume that you are better because you are wearing the badge. Take an objective look at your performance later, but don't be bullied into calling something a particular way from pressure from someone who may think they know more, or better. Sian knew better. I suspect the other blokes do now as well.

If you want to see what can happen when you assume, take a look at the clip below from the ageless Benny Hill ... it speaks for itself.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bye-Bye Sky Guy

Sky Soccer Presenter Andy Gray Is Fired After Remarks

Sky Sports soccer announcer Andy Gray, who made sexist remarks about a female assistant referee at the weekend, has been fired by the U.K. broadcaster.

“Andy Gray’s contract has been terminated for unacceptable behavior,” Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, said in a statement. “After issuing a warning yesterday, we have no hesitation in taking this action after becoming aware of new information today.”

The new evidence relates to an off-air incident in December, Sky said, and came to light after Gray had already been disciplined for his disparaging weekend comments on match official Sian Massey.

See the complete story here, courtesy of Bloomberg.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It's tough enough ...

... to be a referee.

Does anyone think it is tougher to be a woman referee? I have an answer, but judge for yourself.

Kudos to Jenna Powell for finding this one.

Andy Gray and Richard Keys comments about assistant ref Sian Massey 'make my blood boil', says Karren Brady

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady admits off-air remarks by Sky Sports presenters Richard Keys and Andy Gray about both herself and Premier League official Sian Massey made her "blood boil".

They concurred that female officials "don't know the offside rule", with Keys adding: "I can guarantee you there'll be a big one today. (Liverpool manager) Kenny (Dalglish) will go potty." ...

See the full story here, courtesy of the Telegraph.

Monday, January 24, 2011

To bead, or not to bead, that was the question

Take a look at the video clip below, with specific emphasis on the GK (in yellow).

See anything?
How about his hair?

Would you as a referee allow a player to play with those beads in their hair?

How about this?

... and this?

Should these be allowed as well?

My answer for these players, at these levels, is yes. My answer is also yes for players at any level with a bona fide religious belief that requires a head covering or medical condition that requires a bracelet for such.

Should a referee allow a player to have beads in their hair, or for that matter anything ornamental at any other level?

My answer is no, and it is backed up by the LOTG and Ask A Referee here.

So why allow professional and international players to do so?

Keep in mind that at these levels the LOTG will flex as much as the players want to play, and the referee allows. This is after all for the entertainment value of the game itself for those who are watching. As I have said many times here, it is a business, and one that the referees are a part of protecting. Asking Zenga to remove his hat, or Sutter to remove his head covering would put the referee in a bad spot as it would intrude on the "branding" that player is engaging in. Also it would no doubt bring about a poor reaction for the player themselves.

To remedy this in MLS there were specific memos that came from the staff to note that such accoutrements were allowed and the referee will allow them during play. As neither of these were outwardly dangerous it made some sense.

In all cases, a referee must draw the line when an article can put another player into peril. I don't believe that FIFA, MLS, or anyone else would have issues with that. The trick of course is what is "dangerous" varies at different levels. For those upper levels, there has to be real danger as just adornments need not be removed. At any lower levels however, it should all come off.

I agree, its not fair ... and is one of the many ways that the professional and international game sets a very bad example for younger players and referees.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Programming Note


I am going to be unable to post for a couple of days, but expect to be able to by the weekend. In the mean time, I leave you with this video as a friendly reminder that players are human too ... just like referees.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

FA's White Horse ... again

The other day I wrote about the incident where the FA was acting as the Twitter Police by sanctioning Ryan Babel for his comments regarding Howard Webb after the fixture between Man-U and Liverpool. In this post I opined that the FA got it wrong as it really does not serve the FA or the referee well to take such action that really, looking at the long view is untenable.

Juxtapose this with the incident recently with Rafael da Silva from Man-U in their fixture against Tottenham after (frankly) da Silva lost it on FIFA referee Mike Dean after being sent off for a second caution. Here is an excellent example of the FA stepping in and doing the right thing to keep the game in check by sanctioning da Silva for "Improper Conduct." Here, da Silva was plain and simple out of line with his conduct being referred to as "toddler like." Take a look at the pictures below (and the 1000 words they speak) and the linked articles.

Photo and article courtesy of
Photo and article courtesy of

Any questions?
It's personal (just look how close da Silva is).
It's provocative (look at the gestures da Silva is openly making).

Good for the FA, for my $.02 the FA got this one exactly right.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Confirmation Bias" or "China Syndrome"?

Some may be familiar with the China Syndrome as the hypothetical idea of a nuclear reactor melting down and burning through the earth straight through to China. Fewer may be aware of the idea of Confirmation Bias where an individual uses and recalls information, accurate or not, in a selective manner, to confirm a belief they hold. I am seeing these two in a cause-effect relationship for referees, among others.

My impetus for this post was an email I received from refereeing legend Angelo Bratsis, citing a very good article, Referees and The Confirmation Bias, from While I will not go into the article per se (but please read it), it reminds me of a real need in refereeing and in life about getting objective opinions.

As we are all aware there are several sources of opinions about a referees performance, all of which are subject to some form of bias or another, even the most objective ones. On one end of the spectrum I would put spectators who are generally both unaware of the nuances of THE game, and have a declared bias for a particular side. We all expect this as fan(atics) are there to cheer for a team. I continue on this spectrum of least objective to most, to include commentators, local media, players, and coaches (in order).

Note that while players and coaches clearly have a bias, I believe they have valuable information to share as well and should be carefully listened to to derive that message during a match.

On the more objective side are referee self evaluation, other referees and assessors in ones immediate sphere, and rounding out with assessors/instructors/inspectors and other trained 3rd party observers, regardless of discipline (again in order).

Let me say that while I believe there is a "spectrum of bias", I also believe there is no such thing as a lack of bias and to be honest this is a good thing at times in my opinion. An evaluator needs a hint of bias to be able to have context in the current situation. For example, does a referee go into a U-10 local match in the same way he goes into a MLS final? I hope not. The experience itself lends to a bias. Not of one team over another, but of context that the latter match will require different skills to be brought out. Assessing a match is much the same, one needs context to be able to understand how to react to a given situation and know what to look for.

So what does this have to do with the title?

By way of a recommendation I would suggest as a referee to expose yourself to as many different types of matches and situation as possible. Also, seek out as many diverse opinions as possible about not just your performance, but also how you "are" inside the field. An example to explain ...

As I have stated here, I was also an indoor referee for a very long time. It is where I picked up many of my skills that I carry today. One day I received an impromptu assessment from someone who I did not expect, yet was extraordinarily insightful ... the bartender. As I came to find out, he would watch me and like any good assessor would dissect my performance. His suggestions to me were simple, elegant, and spot on. His most insightful comment was about I used to tip my head back and lift my nose after calling a foul. He recognized that it was a reflex, but it looked disrespectful to some players. Since then I have corrected the mechanic with better results.

So what's the point?

My point is simple. Take all the feedback you can get, from all the sources you can get, and learn to parse the useful information from the non-useful. Keep in mind that your own nemesis may have the key to your survival, and your biggest friend your unhinging, neither with intent. Seek critical opinions and question them. The wider the net you cast, the less chance of any confirmation bias.

To listen only to the glowing comments and ignoring the rest, will certainly one day lead to an epic meltdown inside the field, on the scale of a China Syndrome.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Upgrade Kudos

As we have done here in the past, I would like to congratulate Corey Samuelson, who has recently been upgraded to Grade 7 (Referee 1st Class).

Well done!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bribe ... what bribe? That's a "private agreement".

Qatar's World Cup Spending Spree

Qatar's winning bid to hold the 2022 World Cup was marked by a spending spree that included investments in the home countries of several executives who were responsible for choosing the host nation, according to internal documents from the emirate's bidding committee.

The spending sheds light on how FIFA regulations—outlined in the two-page rules of conduct for World Cup host-nation bidding—left the door open for hopefuls to open wallets to exert indirect influence on international soccer's small circle of decision-makers.

Qatar also paid soccer-world luminaries—hailing from France, Spain, Argentina and elsewhere—who publicly endorsed its bid, according to Qatar bid committee documents and emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Some were paid more than a million dollars in connection with the endorsements, said a person familiar with the situation. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of the WSJ.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

To Tweet or not to Tweet ... that was the question

Photo courtesy of BBC
For anyone who has been keeping up with the FA Cup and Liverpool's loss to Mann-U on Sunday the 9th, you may have been treated both to some of the decisions Howard Webb made, but also the Twitter fallout by Liverpool winger Ryan Babel (@RyanBabel).

I am not here to debate Webb's decisions that allowed a penalty in the 1' to have Man-U go up 1 - 0, or the later send off. Both are in the video clip below. You can all judge for yourself.

Instead, I am more interested Mr. Babel's actions on Twitter to edit a picture of Mr. Webb in a Man-U kit (see the picture here) and with the comments shown above. These are detailed in an excellent article from the BBC, Twitter ye not? Also, I am interested in the FA's response in sanctioning Mr. Babel with "improper conduct."

Now, Twitter is an incredible medium to communicate info quickly, 140 characters at a time. If you are reading this you likely already know that, and I hope you follow Kicking Back on Twitter (@kicking_back). My question is should players really be sanctioned for being openly critical in such media?

Please note my use of words, specifically the word critical. My stance is much different when public comments get personal, provocative, or threatening. There is no place for these types of comments at all, regardless of who they are cast at, and equally so when cast at an official. I also have no love for parents slinging criticism to younger referees. They are not ready to understand how to process that rubbish at such a young age. This leads to legions of referees resigning their badge after a year or two and must be stopped.

I have a very different opinion regarding critical comments, parody, and the like, which I believe are absolutely essential speech, even if done in a mean spirited way in the detailed situation. Without this speech, a critical component of discourse is unavailable. Honestly, can you image a match without any critical comments? What fun is that! I mean really ... has anyone logged into Big Soccer lately and looked around? There is an incredible about of information exchange there. While not always "glowing" for some, the opinions shared are largely tremendously insightful and can certainly lead to a good takeaway from those willing to read and understand.

I will got out on a limb here too and support Mr. Babel in his comments. Not because I believe he was correct, but rather because I support his right to do so as necessary discourse in a society. Keep in mind that I am an advocate for the 1st Amendment, and this speech would fall under this amendment, but also understand that this does not extend outside the US. For free speech principles on the internet in the US see Reno v. ACLU (51 U.S. 844) where SCOTUS struck down the CDA.

That said, I believe the FA is asking for trouble in this regard. To begin to sanction players for their comments in any media is a slippery slope. Again, personal, provocative, or threatening is another matter and should be dealt with fully by the FA. These comments however were clearly not that. An opinion was expressed, accompanied by a very clever picture showing the same displeasure. I somehow think that Mr. Webb's first reaction was hardly fear or anger. I'd be willing to bet that his first reaction was a snicker and a smile. Why does the FA need to turn into the "Twitter Police" over this?

While I appreciate the FA riding in on its white horse to save Mr. Webb from the wounding words slung by Mr. Babel, somehow I believe the referee from the 2010 World Cup final is up to that particular challenge.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Are you ready for some futsal?

For any who are unfamiliar, futsal is a variant of association football that is played on a smaller playing surface and mainly played indoors. Its name is derived from the Portuguese futebol de salão and the Spanish fútbol de salón (colloquially fútbol sala), which can be translated as "hall football" or "indoor football". During the sport's second world championships held in Madrid in 1985, the name fútbol de salón was used. Since then, all other names have been officially and internationally changed to futsal. (From Wikipedia)

If you are looking to take in a match ... now is the time to act!

On January 14th through the 17th 2011the Northeast Regional Futsal Championships are being held in Massachusetts. This is the only US Soccer sanctioned futsal tournament in New England and will have teams of all ages and even include FIFA fustal referee Jason Krnac who will be officiating.

So if you have some time, stop on out as the competition will be tremendous and the winner heads to the National Futsal Championships in February 2011.

Take a look here for full details. See you out there!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Winter in 2022? Looks like we will be there soon.

FIFA plays God with winter World Cup talk

PARIS — FIFA talk of possibly switching the summer World Cup of 2022 to winter is scandalous on so many levels that it's hard to know where to begin.

For starters, what arrogance. The World Cup takes a full month. Add to that pre-tournament training camps (essential for teams to gel) plus warm-up matches (equally essential) and at least one week of post-tournament recuperation for the players (they earn it, no?) and you're talking six to seven weeks.

So what about the rest of Planet Soccer? Would it simply be expected to stop and twiddle its thumbs while FIFA holds its party in Qatar, the Gulf emirate that roasts in summer? ...

See the full story here, courtesy of USA Today.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Upgrade Kudos

Like the first birth of the New Year, we have our first upgrade of 2011.

Please join me in congratulating Dusan Basta for the achievement of attaining Grade 7 (Referee 1st Class).

Well done!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What Say You?

With regard to the taking of the penalty kick (not the horrible dive) in the clip below, which is the correct answer?

Use the poll at right to vote. Answer 01-FEB-2011.

A. Caution Purple #5
B. Caution Purple #11
C. Caution Orange GK (#21)
D. A and B
E. A, B and C
F. None of the above

Special thanks to C.W. Rice for pointing us to the clip.

Monday, January 10, 2011

One flew from the cuckoo's nest

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — A top German lawyer has resigned from FIFA's ethics commission in protest at the world football body's apparent failure to tackle alleged corruption in its ranks.

Guenter Hirsch wrote in a letter to ethics commission president Claudio Sulser that FIFA appeared unwilling to deal with growing problems. The 67-year-old former president of Germany's highest appeals court said FIFA showed "no real interest" in trying to clean up the organization.

"The events of the past few weeks have raised and strengthened the impression that responsible persons in FIFA have no real interest in playing an active role in resolving, punishing and avoiding violations against ethic regulations of FIFA," Hirsch wrote in the letter, according to the German DPA news agency on Sunday. ...

See the full story here, courtesy of USA Today.

Kicking Back comments:
Mr. Hirsch is not just another pol who is resigning in fear of being discovered in some wrongdoing. He is the real deal and the former president of the highest court in the country of Germany. Frankly neither are some of these other folks that comprise the committee. Take the USA representative Burton K. Haimes, a Yale grad with a LL.B. and LL.M. and currently a partner at Orrick. How about Robert Torres, Chief Justice of the Unified Courts of Guam. If some of these folks are leaving, it should give FIFA great pause, as it would seem one of the few places that the organization has people of such pedigree. Notably the chair of the ethics committee, Claudio Sulser, apparently has no such creditably as a professional beyond his tremendous career as a striker. FIFA must believe that a former striker is better equipped to handle ethics matters than a man who has served at or on a country's highest court.

My question is, who is next? 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Please, no pope jokes

Oh no Hugh Don't

THE SFA has told three staff sacked over the Pope email row that they can return to their jobs - but there was no reprieve for refs' chief Hugh Dallas.

The trio successfully appealed against a controversial decision to axe them.

They were among five employees - including Dallas - given the boot in November for allegedly forwarding a photograph linking the Pope to child abuse on the same day the church leader visited Scotland.

Now the three backroom staff have been told they can go back to work later this month. ...

See the full story here, courtesy of the Scottish Sun.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Kristine Lilly Hangs 'em Up

Quiet star Lilly exceeded them all

Girls often come in predictable groupings -- in literature, pop culture and even in real life. There's the "pretty" one, the "outgoing" one, the "smart" one, the "motherly" one. And then there's the other one, the quiet girl who rounds out the social circle.

Often the quiet one ends up with the biggest role. ...

See the full story here, courtesy of

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Chucky B" Bustin' Some Phat Beats

FIFA holds RAP meeting in New York

NEW YORK -- Fernando Tresaco, FIFA's Head of Refereeing, met Tuesday with CONCACAF officials to review referee development activities for 2010 and examine plans for the new year. The annual meeting, which focuses on the Referee Assistance Program (RAP), took place at the Confederation's headquarters in New York City. ...

See the full article here from CONCACAF.

Kicking Back comments:
So if you still don't believe that refereeing (or football in general) is big business, just take a look at the picture from the article. Sure are a lot of suits in a awfully nice setting ...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Who are we?

L.E. Eisenmenger tweeted this morning about the series of articles recently posted entitled "Player agent Mike Wheeler explains third-party ownership in MLS", on Excellent interview and gives a very nice overview of some of the business side of what goes on in the game. This is a must read for anyone really interested at the high levels of the game, a business/law junkie, or both, like me.

It got my head clicking a little bit ... but first, a disclaimer:
First, please re-read the Legal Stuff page and note that what I am sharing is a personal opinion, not legal or tax advise. In no way should anything I am about to write ... you are about to read ... should be considered advise in any way, just an opinion.

With tax season right around the corner, and LE's article above, it reminded me what status a referee takes in the financial and taxation world.

First, believe me, individual referee and leagues can get into BIG trouble with the IRS for failing to pay the appropriate amount of taxes on their wages. Look at this article "IRS CALLS FOUL ON COACHES AND REFEREES AS INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS", where a Connecticut youth soccer league is facing $334,441 in fines and back taxes for failing to file employment taxes for two tax years.

An individual referee could fall into a couple of broad categories as far as the IRS is concerned. One is an employee of an organization. While this is rare, it does happen at times. For example MLS has 2 or 3 referees on their payroll at last word. Here, MLS takes on various responsibilities to the IRS. Precise terms are based on whatever employment agreement MLS has with these folks.

Alternatively, a referee may be an independent contractor. For example when I worked in WUSA I was under an independent contractor agreement where I had the responsibility to report my earnings to the IRS and pay the appropriate taxes.

As a slight spin on this, when I was very active, I set up and ran my own refereeing business and reported my earnings on a Schedule C to the IRS. While it was never work, it was a real business and I ran it as such to keep tabs on what was going on and make sure I stayed clear on any IRS issues.

As a side note, it was good training for the future too.

Now, making the determination if you are an employee or an independent contractor may not always be clear. You may actually be one or the other even absent an express agreement. There are some resources out there to help make that determination. One from the IRS is here.

US Soccer has some very useful information on its web site as well regarding this topic. ARE REFEREES INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS, is a good article that goes through many of these factors detailed by the IRS and while seemingly aimed at the leagues that utilize referees, it is instructive for referees as well.

Also INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR HELPFUL SUGGESTIONS, is a good perspective for the leagues to assure maintenance of independent contractor status of their referees.

Long story short, while for most, if not all of us, refereeing is not a job, but it is a source of income. Also (like it or not) some of that income may be taxable, or at least reported. Take some time in this off season, and consider your options and obligations.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I guess it's not a rumor ...

JAFO previously posted that Paul Tamberino was taking a position with MLS. Well based on some news reports, it looks like it is true.


December 27, 2010
Ex-ref Tamberino joins MLS

Former soccer referees don't retire from the sport. They become administrators.

Major League Soccer Monday announced that Paul Tamberino has joined the league’s competition department as a director.

Tamberino will serve as the primary liaison to all U.S. Soccer and Canadian Soccer Association officiating committees and assist in the planning and implementation of strategies to enhance quality of play in MLS. ...

See the whole release here. I was not able to find anything on, and still waiting to see who is going to direct officials for US Soccer.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I promise this time ...

Sepp Blatter proposes Fifa anti-corruption committee

Fifa president Sepp Blatter says he wants to set up an anti-corruption committee to police world football's governing body.

The move comes after allegations of corruption dogged Fifa throughout the bidding process and voting for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Blatter said: "This committee will strengthen our credibility and give us a new image in terms of transparency.

"I will take care of it personally, to ensure there is no corruption at Fifa." ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of the BBC.

Kicking Back's comments:
All I can say is that I hope he is serious, and this committee has some teeth. It is my opinion the international game can not handle another scandal on the scale that we just saw for the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Call to Arms

Earlier in the week I caught this NYT article: Roberts Urges Obama and Senate to Fill Judicial Posts. An interesting read to be sure.

It made me think about the plight we are in as referees and the vacancies the referee program has available. I echo Chief Justice Roberts thoughts that a full strength refereeing core will operate more efficiently.

Fortunately in our case referees do not require Senate conformation, but they do need to get trained.

To that end, I challenge you all in 2011 to bring a new referee into the fold. Make it a New Years resolution.

For those of us in Massachusetts, take a look here at the available course for youth referees, for those outside these state boarders, go to your local association and see what they have.

As we all know, we need all the help we can get, and if every registered referee works to bring just one along with them, we can fill the spots we need to match the growing game, and fill those thousands of spots left by referees who have left THE game after only a year or two.

So please, in this year of change, bring a friend, we could use the help.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Kicking Back's Thoughts for 2011

So as I sit here "penning" this on New Years Day, I reflect with mixed emotion on 2010, and with great anticipation for 2011.

I do not share all of ESPN's views on the disappointments of 2010 in the US Soccer world. I do share some however, particularly what happened to the 2022 World Cup. While I understand that a significant portion of this was FIFA's doing and the corruption, or at least disguised bid process that I have written about, I also believe that Mr. Guliti and his team, are not blameless in the episode.

To be sure there were high points in 2010. The US performance in South Africa while not all we hoped it would be, was not without great merit. It certainly kept reminding the World that while we are not that elite international team, we certainly belong on the stage.

Back at home there were ups and downs too. We lost a friend of THE game in Rich Filippetti, and saw a local boy turned international sensation Tom Supple retire in 2010.

On the other side of the ledger, we saw great progress in local referees and the advancement and recognition of many. Far too many to single out here. Further, the MSRC is clearly stepping things up, both with their expanded Academy Program, and the level of professionalism they expect from their advanced referees. Both are excellent steps in the right direction.

On balance I will look back on 2010 with some nostalgia for a variety of reasons. One of the largest of all is that it was the beginning of my way back to a game I love so much, and get the opportunity to share some of that here with you all on Kicking Back.

I am predicting that 2011 will be a time for change ... that itself is not very prophetic to be sure. However after some of the shakeups in FIFA, US Soccer, and MLS, I believe 2011 will be a very interesting year, especially for US referees.

Thanks for reading Kicking Back and making it a success in 2010. Let's see what we can do in 2011.