Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Neil Buethe Speaks on women referees at the professional level

For those who don't know, Neil Buthe is my opposite number for US Soccer. Where I serve as communications  director for the MSRC, Mr. Buther serves as communications coordinator for US Soccer.

From the other day, I opined and posted a link to the article written by L.E. Eisenmenger of my interview on the topic of women refereeing at the professional level.

Well, the other day LE caught up with Mr. Buthe, who shared the position of US Soccer on the topic.

As good communication officials do (unlike me in my personal capacity during my interview), he was very clear this was not a discrimination issue, but one of performance.

I agree with him 100% as I believe in a meritocracy, and I believe the Federation does too.

Part of his answer was interesting however as, and I'm paraphrasing, there is a path now for (women) officials.

This on its face is great as there is a way to get experience ... but ... and this is generic to all referees not just women ... how does a referee get experience to compete at this level? It would seem to be a chicken in the egg scenario. You need experience to get to that level, but to get that experience you need to work at that level.

I know the Federation is crafting answers to these issues, for example the new grades being created to create professional AR's. An issue remains however of how a referee can get to some higher levels, without being or having experience at those levels.

For me it was fairly easy ... there was no one else in some cases, and State Referees were used early on in MLS as 4th officials. Today it is a much harder problem to solve, and it is clear the folks at the Federation are working on it, as is clear from their actions, and the comments from Mr. Buthe.

Any bets on when a woman will be refereeing in MLS?

The US tends to break ground in many areas of THE game for the good (think diversity of players) and the bad (think "rampage" in MLS), why not make this an opportunity to show the world, we have the best women referees ... that can work in the top men's professional leagues?

I have some answers ... what are yours?

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