Monday, December 31, 2012

Kicking Back's Best ... and Worst of 2012

Well folks, it is that time again.

To look back on the year and give my opinion of the best and worst, some of which is even soccer related. Nothing scientific, nothing objective, it's pure speculation and opinion on my part. Your opinions will certainly vary.

So without further adieu:

Best and Worst of 2012:

Best Goal of 2012: Danny Welbeck, England v. Sweden Euro 2012.
Unbelievable touch on this one to win the match for England.

Worst (should have been a) Goal of 2012: Neymar, Brazil v. Colombia.
I think this ball is still in low earth orbit and being tracked by NASA.

Fan(atic) (Re)Action:
Best Fan Action: Placing fans' names on Real Sociedad jerseys'. Credit: The 91st Minute.
I actually really like this idea. While it could go horribly wrong, I think it is very clever.

Worst Fanatic Reaction: Live explosive thrown on pitch in Asian Cup Quarterfinal.
The #40 in yellow is lucky they are not calling him "Righty" now.

Best Soccer Commercial: Nike Football - My Time is now.
Very "Matrix" like, and very cool.

Worst Soccer Commercial: EA Sports - FIFA 13.
This was a huge letdown from the FIFA 12 commercial which was great.

On Field Brawl:
Worst Brawl (there are no "good" ones): Bahia v. Vitoria U-13(!) Match.
There are places in the LOTG that speak of "grave disorder", this is such a case.

Best Referee (while there are no "bad" referees ... save me this year) to me is Mark Clattenburg. This man was involved in a heated exchange after a Chelsea match, and was hung out to dry as a racist for it.  While all seem to be moving on without any finding of racism whatsoever, the taint remains, and remains on a man who by all evidence has done nothing wrong, and a world class referee who should be destine for the 2014 World Cup. Time will tell of the rubbish spewed after this match hold over to the final selection of referees.

Based on a recent issue involving Clattenburg, it is clear some will continue to use this falsity in any way they can to advantage themselves.

Assistant Referee:
Best Assistant Referee is Richard Nieuwenhuizen. If any who have been living in a cave, or have tragically short memory, Richard is the parent, father, volunteer, and AR, who was working his son's match, when he was beaten on the field, after the match by (3) teenage players, and later died due to his injuries.

A tragic loss by all accounts, and one that will haunt The Game for years to come.

There is simply no other choice to me, Richard Nieuwenhuizen for his selfless service to The Game, that he gave his life for, demonstrates the best in humanity, and the game he clearly loved so much.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Busacca: We must give referees all they need

Busacca: We must give referees all they need

Massimo Busacca was a referee for 22 years and officiated at more than 100 top-level international matches, with the 2009 UEFA Champions League final among his most notable. The 42-year-old finished his active career this summer to become the Head of FIFA’s Referees Department. spoke with him about this past year and some of the hot topics in refereeing. ...

See the whole story here, from

Kicking Back Comments: A good interview with one of the greats. There are some interesting tidbits throughout the article, but the best summary is his conclusion ... it is spot on, and far more fundamental than any administrative construct that FIFA hands down.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Did you ever notice ...

... FIFA's "Happy Birthday To You" segment?

Most recent from December 23rd 2012 can be found here, courtesy of

Did you ever notice that referees are not on there? In fact I have never seen one, ever.

I could be wrong, and hope that I am, but I would think FIFA could find a refereeing legend worthy of posting in this segment, yes?

If you look at the list of FIFA referees for the US here, (notice the new additional folks!) it gives birth year only ... why not  announce happy birthday for those folks around the world that have made it to the FIFA ranks, and those who continue to serve in an active advisory capacity after their active service on the field.

Would seem like a common courtesy to me ... but then again, I may have missed something.

Well, I do know one retired FIFA AR who was born in December, and he is a class act, and longtime friend.

Happy birthday Tommy!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

... and Speaking of American Football(ers)

Friedel extends Tottenham contract

Veteran American goalkeeper Brad Friedel has extended his contract with Tottenham Hotspur until 2014, the Premier League club announced on Wednesday.

At 41, Friedel is the oldest player in the Premier League and he is also the only man in the history of the division to start 300 consecutive matches. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of FIFA.

Kicking Back Comments: This is great to see Brad still at it at the tender age of 41. His time in the MLS while too short, was great. A quality guy and a class competitor.

Glad to see players from the US carrying the good name abroad.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Gotta Love St. Stephen’s Day!!

Games and More Games on Day After Christmas

After the confinement and tiring etiquette of Christmas Day, the prospect of soccer on Wednesday offers something of a refuge for Britons. An opportunity to escape the family, the simmering tensions and the dinner table strife, and breathe a sigh of relief, Boxing Day games are a tradition that Britain holds dear. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of the NYT.

Kicking Back Comments: I can think of (almost) no better way to start the time off between holidays, than with a whole day of football.

I know what I'm going to be doing today!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas soccer in Philadelphia, 1912

Christmas soccer in Philadelphia, 1912

Memories of Thanksgiving soccer matches were being replaced with anticipation of more holiday matches in the minds of area soccer fans as Christmas 1912 approached.

Christmas fell on a Wednesday that year and so provided a rare opportunity for a midweek match. The previous weekend had seen some 21 games across three leagues and several different divisions as well as eight exhibition games. Among those exhibition games were teams from the city’s Pennsylvania League and American League, who had no league game scheduled because of the first round of Philadelphia Challenge Cup ties. In cup play, Pennsylvania League champions Tacony were downed 2-1 by current league leaders Victors at Third and Lehigh, their second victory over the Sawmen of the season. Earlier in the year, the Victors had advanced as far as the semifinals of the 1911-1912 American Cup, playing eventual Cup winners the West Hudsons to two draws before losing the third game 1–0 in extra time. ...

See the whole article here, from Philly Soccer.

Kicking Back Comments: This is a great article! I have to say there are times when we forget that soccer in the US has some significant roots too. Also, in poking around this blog, there seems to be some real quality stuff there.

A welcome Christmas present!!

From all of us here at Kicking Back, have a very happy holiday season!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Be Careful FIFA

FIFA boss Sepp Blatter, feeling heat over UEFA U21 in Israel, promises to rebuild bombed Gaza stadium

World football boss, FIFA President Sepp Blatter, is feeling pressure over the 2013UEFA Under 21 tournament scheduled to be hosted by Israel, though he thinks the tournament will go ahead.

There has been growing opposition to allowing Israel to host the tournament, including from top world players, following Israel’s November attack on Gaza which killed more than 170 people and injured more than 1,200.

Blatter also promised that FIFA would help rebuild the Palestine Stadium in Gaza City that was badly damaged in the Israeli attacks. ...

See the whole story here, from The Electronic Intifada.

Kicking Back Comments: Careful here ... FIFA is barely able to maintain its own house, never mind wander into the complex situation such as the Gaza conflict.

I am a little surprised FIFA started the ball rolling in the first place ... but am curious what they do now.

Be careful FIFA, as I have said before, this is not your fight, don't go picking sides.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I dunno ...

So this is a story that stems from my recent moving experiences.

I have a contract with a national internet service provider, and lets just say they screwed up my service pretty badly during our move, and made life a lot more hectic than it ever needed to be. (In a nutshell they cut us off accidentally ... I will not comment if I think this was a FIFA conspiracy).

Throughout the process I was on the phone for hours ... yes hours ... trying to unscrew the screwed up situation.

With a couple of the conversations, I would ask a question, and the representative on the phone would say "... I don't know, but hang on and I'll find out ...", followed by several more minutes of awful hold music.

This was repeated (5) times ... yes I counted ... it was five.

Now, I am a HUGE fan of saying "I don't know, but will find out ...", if you are asked a question you don't know the answer to. If you try to make up an answer, it will nearly always backfire on you.

However, there is a point when being honest and saying you don't know, turns into a competency issue. After a couple times of "I don't know" when you are in a position to know, is an issue.

Be very careful with this, as a referee in that position you are expected to know *everything* about the LOTG. Now I'll also say that is an unrealistic expectation as the volume of information is huge and includes not only the text of the LOTG, but also IBD's, position papers, addendum, guides ... you get the point.

Like I said earlier, if you don't know something, you should say "I dunno", but please be careful when you do, as with my service provider who said it over and over, they looked like know-nothing fools by having to repeat it over, and over again.

The flip side is take the time to learn from the experience. If there is something you don't know, find out as quick as you can. I wish I could tell you how many times I have asked a colleague at half time if "... I got it right ..." or "... did you see something different ...".

Now I would not recommend thumbing through the LOTG in plain view at half time, but in a locker room to check on something ... or after a match is certainly fair game.

In all cases, future "I dunno's" on the same topic should not happen. Once you have a chance to learn something new about The Game ... embrace it.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

FIFA and Facebook, a costly combination

FIFA suspends agent over Facebook insults

ZURICH (AP) -FIFA has suspended a players' agent for two months for making insulting comments on his Facebook page.

FIFA says the case of Brazilian agent Paulo Teixeira is the governing body's first disciplinary action in which "a member of the football family has been suspended/fined for using social media.'' ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of SI.

Kicking Back Comments: I facilitated a group discussion earlier in the month regarding professionalism, and dedicated a slide to social media being so dangerous as generally, there is nothing stopping anyone from saying anything about anyone.

I have to admit though, even this one surprises me to a degree.

One thing to be aware of is that an individual may be bound by an agreement that would prohibit communicating certain opinions, or for that matter facts about a situation. This particular agent may be in such a situation. Keep in mind too that while the 1st Amendment to COTUS allows me to freely shoot my mouth off, that protection does not exist outside the United States, or to be more specific, such protection is based on sovereign law of the land the author is communicating.

Believe me, even with these rights afforded to United States citizens, you can still get in hot water, or just get challenged for your speech as I have encountered personally from a variety of thin skinned folks since beginning Kicking Back.

To those who may be insulted by my musings ... please relax, read the legal stuff page, and recognize it is just an opinion folks.

SEPP .... DID YOU HEAR THAT ????!???

Ah well, no distinguished service award from FIFA for me ....

Friday, December 21, 2012

Another New Women's League

A new league and another new dawn for US women's soccer

Here we go again: The United States Soccer Federation has announced that a new league known as the National Women's Soccer League will launch in 2013 administered by US Soccer.

The league will begin with eight clubs, the four left over from the recently-extinguished Women's Professional Soccer league (Boston, Chicago, New Jersey, Buffalo) and four new clubs. The names range from overly regional minor league names (Western New York Flash) to cheeky (Portland Thorns FC) to names that have survived all three women's leagues (Boston Breakers). Those clubs will join the Chicago Red Stars, FC Kansas City, Sky Blue FC, Washington Spirit, and the as-yet-unnamed Seattle club. ...

See the whole story here, from The Guardian.

Kicking Back Comments: Three strikes and your out, or third time's a charm?

I hope it is the latter, but given the track record of women's professional soccer in the US, I'm not so sure.

Clearly US Soccer is WAY behind this (as is Canada and Mexico) as each National Organization is subsidizing their entire national teams salaries in the league.

My questions go to what will be different this time? We have tried to ride World Cup winnings in the past, and the league (WUSA) spent itself into oblivion.

For the WPS there were some very committed owners, and some, well one, that seems to have intentions outside of The Game. That said, Wambach and Solo still believe that Mr. Magic Jack is good for the women's game. I'm reserving judgement for right now.

There is no question in my mind that such a league is good for players, youth soccer, US Soccer, referees ... the whole nine.

But ... but ... if they fail this time, are we done? Is this the last time we will try to create a viable women's league for a few generations?

My thinking is yes. 

Again I hope it succeeds wildly (it will be very slow growth though), because if it does not, I don't think we will be seeing women's professional soccer for a long, long time.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Did it really happen?

The Knowledge Christmas special: Did world war one matches really happen?

"Did the Christmas football matches between British and German troops in the first world war trenches really take place?" wonders a sceptical (sic) Sandy Brook.

As you imply in your question, Sandy, most folk raise an eyebrow nowadays at the thought of Tommy and Jerry getting together for a spot of festive soccer on a patch of no-man's land so churned it made the Baseball Ground circa 1972 look like the gardens of Tresco. It seems highly improbable, especially to modern minds conditioned by social media, that petty grudges could be set aside in the name of peace and goodwill to all men. But some contemporary reports suggest that's exactly what happened on Christmas Day 1914. ... 

See the whole story here, courtesy of The Guardian.

Kicking Back Comments: A fun twist on a classic story. Funniest part was this line:

There was no referee, and no score, no tally at all. It was simply a melee – nothing like the soccer you see on television.

I love that personally. If true, you have two countries, nay, a world at war, and you don't need a referee for the match.

A large part of me thinks that referees are horrible for football. I think we may all be surprised what players of good conscience will do when left to their own devices.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ex Post Facto?

So for the law geeks out there the clause, from COTUS Article 1, Section 9, Clause 3, states (in the most coarse terms) that an adjudicating body can't go back and change the consequences for a crime after the fact.

Like everything else, it is way more complicated than that, but you get the point.

So I was reading that Bin Hammam has been banned by FIFA, for a second time, after being held "not guilty" by CAS (in a 2 - 1 vote).

Take a peek at this article from Business World. Of particular note was the following:

(The first life ban) was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in July, but FIFA handed out another life ban on Monday and said he would never be active in organized football again.

I had to laugh at this. So Bin Hammam gets "cleared" by CAS, and FIFA turns around and as soon as he walks out the proverbial door, slaps him with another life ban. Nice.

Why ever would they do that?

This suspension was not in connection with bribery allegations during the election campaign but for "conflicts of interest" while he was president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

Now this one was just about laugh out loud funny. How many conflict of interest issues have other members of FIFA, like Sepp, been involved with? Clearly we must be talking about something current, right?

"That report showed repeated violations of Article 19 (Conflict of Interest) of the FIFA Code of Ethics, edition 2012, of Mohamed Bin Hammam during his terms as AFC President and as member of the FIFA Executive Committee in the years 2008 to 2011, which justified a life-long ban from all football-related activity."

So if I'm reading this right, FIFA banned him for life, again, after banning him the first time, and having that overturned by CAS, and based on conflict of interest violations that occurred in 2008 to 2011, yet were only considered conflict of interest violations in 2012.


How seriously can we take these clowns at FIFA?

Really ... I know this is a harsh statement, but come on. Is there a procedure to be followed? This one is such an incredible stretch that it loses all sense of credibility.

Listen, do I think Bin Hammam was caught up in some unethical behavior? My sense is yes, without any evidence, but there is enough smoke circling around to get a picture. Even CAS in their ruling hinted at what they thought was unethical behavior. (Not that I hold CAS in any high regard after the Contador affair ...)

BUT ...

FIFA has to play by the rules here. Clearly they wanted Bin Hammam out, and if I had to guess it was because he had the audacity to challenge Sepp for the presidency. How pathetic is that to take retribution out on a previous opponent by banning him for life, twice, for some procedural, fabricated, rubbish.

How seriously can we continue to take FIFA?

Now is there anything stopping FIFA legally from doing this? Nope, and I recognize that. They can do it.

I also recognize that it is nonsense, and they should really be embarrassed by their conduct.

I suspect they will not be.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Cowards Way Out


I have to tell you that I am deeply effected by the tragedy in Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Little Ms. is about that age of those children who were needless murdered, Jr. is not far ahead of her, and Madame X is a local school administrator in Massachusetts. For those who are following this story, it was these very types of people who were targets of this absurd violence.

To say it has me grateful for their safety and re-thinking about their future safety is an understatement.

I am however making a conscious effort NOT to discuss the matter or tragedy here, save this note. It is for no other reason that I am not emotionally equipped to discuss the matter with the rational mind it needs to see it through.

So while we will continue with our nonsensical rantings about The Game we all love, I am taking the cowards way out regarding the recent shooting at Sandy Hook, to acknowledge the tragedy and contemplate on the topic silently.

We will keep at it however ... happy warriors through the larger game of life.

Monday, December 17, 2012

'Nuff Said

Uefa’s cowardly reaction against Serbian racists takes European game several steps backwards

It’s unbelievable. It’s scarcely credible. It’s the 21st century yet dear old blinkered, blazered Uefa is at it again, failing to fight the fires fanned by the racist Serbs. Again. There are good, diligent, conscientious souls within Uefa but the organisation’s cowardly reaction towards the serial bigotry of the Serbs shames all at Nyon. This embarrassment has gone on too long. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of The Telegraph.

Kicking Back Comments: Like the title said ... 'nuff said. I think The Telegraph has is right.
Even more right are some of the comments to the article. Here is a good, and true, one.

Commenter's avatar
Brown envelopes
Goal line technology
Qatar World Cup in 2022 (Yeh, right!)
No need to retreat 10 yards - the 'ceremonial' free kick
Bendtner underpants
Serbian riot
Late stamping on metatarsals
Blocking the runner
Rugby tackles and holding
Intimidation of officials
The 'accidental' flailing arm
The 'accidental' collision of the attacker's heels and the defender's shins
Continual blind eye towards offences missed by officials
But don't worry, the game's in good hands.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Every Paycheck is a Fortune

Referees must get greater respect from the Football Association and game in general before it is too late

The comment is slightly harsh, overlooking the work done by diligent staff in the FA’s refereeing department, but it reflects the dark mood of some referees.

Not a naturally militant breed, some of the elite Professional Game Match Officials group of referees sound frustrated.

“We get £75,000 a year,’’ said one referee. “It seems good money but is it worth the grief? Some of us are only doing it for the mortgage.” ...

See the whole story here, from The Telegraph.

Kicking Back Comments: So 75K sterling pounds is equal to about $121K USD. That is a pretty good wage all things considered as the average in the US is just over $46K.

Does anyone know what MLS referees are being offered currently? Well it's about $27K per year for a (2) year contract, that does not include the match fees themselves.

That's pathetic.

So if we think $121K per year is worth a load of crap, how about $27K?

Not so much.

Folks complain about referees, often ... but does anyone actually realize just how pathetic their pay is?

It should be clear that these guys are NOT in it for the money, but rather the chance to work at the highest level of The Game, domestically.

I can't logically think of any other reason why they would.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Please Join The Respect for Richard Campaign

In tribute to slain Dutch referee Richard Nieuwenhuizen, referees around the world will change their avatars or profile photos to the logo of the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB). The tribute will be timed to coincide with a silent march in Richard’s hometown of Almere on Sunday, 9 December 2012, at 17:00 local time (16:00 UTC; 11:00 AM EST in North America). ...

See the whole request here, courtesy of @dutchreferee.

Kicking Back Comments: Kicking Back will be honored to join #RESPECTforRichard the week of the 9th.

Friday, December 7, 2012

@dutchreferee on the BBC

Jan ter Harmsel (@dutchreferee) has found himself as a focal point for many, many supportive messages from around the world.

If you have a Twitter account, take a second and message him, he will appreciate it.

He has done a good job with a story here at his blog and recently made an appearance on the BBC discussing the recent criminal act that led to the death of Richard Nieuwenhuizen.

A worthy read, both regarding this particular incident, and generally.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

For kiddies of all ages

FIFA 13 Wii U Review

You may have heard how great FIFA 13 is on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The annual soccer franchise launched with a host of new features, enhanced graphics, and improved intelligence engine on those platforms. Unfortunately, EA’s first crack at FIFA Soccer on the Wii U is not this game. In fact, it’s a bad port of FIFA 12, which is a big letdown for soccer fans looking for a comparable experience on the new console. Differences from other consoles aside, FIFA 13 on the Wii U is the first high definition soccer experience for Nintendo fans, and the best that the franchise has ever been on this platform. ...

See the whole review here, courtesy of Attack of the Fan Boy.

Kicking Back Comments: Pretty cool stuff! Looks like another platform for the home soon.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dutch assistant referee killed by youth players

I am sad to report this is not a gag headline, or some clever turn on words that I am using to make a point about The Game.

This is a disgusting attack by (3) youth players, on another human, a father, a husband, a son, and assistant referee Richard Nieuwenhuizen.

Photograph via Facebook and ABC News
Serving as a volunteer assistant referee at his son's youth football match, he died after being kicked and beaten by several players. Nieuwenhuizen, 41, was shaking players’ hands when the three players, two 15-year-olds and one 16-year-old, surrounded him, pushed him to the ground, and began attacking him.

Authorities haven’t given a possible motive for the attack. The three boys accused in this case are in police custody, and will appear before a judge behind closed doors on Thursday.

Action taken was swift and included a lifetime ban from soccer in the country for the players arrested for the beating, and all upcoming Nieuw Sloten games have been canceled, the club where these criminals hail from. A number of teams, including all those based in Almere, have stated they will refuse to play any games against Nieuw Sloten.

Nieuw Sloten said in a statement on its website that it had banned the players involved and pulled its team out of the league. The statement said such incidents "do not belong on a football field". Both clubs cancelled all training scheduled for Monday.

This seems like a reasonable start.

To complete this, these boys should be thrown in jail to rot.

I am concerned about Norway's "restorative justice system" that generally is very gentile where I believe that (21) years is the maximum sentence for anything other than war crimes, or genocide.

Anyone remember Anders Breivik who only received (21) years for killing (77) people? Yep, that's about 100 days per murder.

Restorative huh.

Now from my criminal law days there are several reasons for punishment:
  1. Deterrence (for others).
  2. Retribution (for what they did).
  3. Rehabilitation (so they won't do it again).
  4. Incapacitation (so they can't do it again).
I'll be honest, I am going with 1 and 2 on this one and quickly followed up by a suit in tort for the families of each of these little murderers.

A strong message needs to be sent here, by the Dutch courts, Netherlands Football, and yes, FIFA. It needs to be stronger than what Sepp said the other day.

You want to make an impression, condemn the activity in the strongest possible terms. Be shocked, be sad, and be mad as hell that these punks did this, and promise swift and severe sanctions for all involved, the club, the league ... everyone, who takes such actions, or inactions.

It is times like this that I struggle with such barbaric actions, receiving humane treatment. It's the civilized thing to do, but I'll be honest folks, it is not coming easy for me personally on this one.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Canadian Officials Do Well in MLS Cup

Canadian Officials Do Well in MLS Cup

Silviu Petrescu of Waterloo, Ontario was the first Canadian to receive MLS Referee of the Year honors and he officiated the 2012 MLS Cup final. This was a surprising choice for me but Petrescu and the two assistant referees –– Daniel Belleau of Sainte-Hélène-de-Breakeyville, Québec and Darren Clark of Kamloops, British Columbia –– can be very happy with their performances. Los Angeles had two penalty kicks and two goals disallowed, all very important decisions, but a reason the media are talking about the players and not the officiating is the refs had all these calls correct. ...

See the whole article here, courtesy of Soccer America.

Kicking Back Comments: I'm with Randy here. I thought our neighbors to the North did well with this match. As a whole, these referees as a team, and as individuals did what they needed to to keep this match entertaining and focused on the players.

While there are always things to change, correct, or question, the folks at US Soccer, CSA, and PRO, should all be proud of the job done.

Well done guys.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Valcke's "First Time"

I would much rather be talking about the recent MLS final, where Beck's exited in classic style (is LD going to stay though?) and the refereeing crew led by Silviu Petrescu did well, despite "premonitions" of the opposite.

A telling article with quotes is here, where while Houston was not happy with everything, it was clear they were not laying the issue at the feet of Petescu ... as they should not.

Enough about that however ... my eyes were on the Confederations Cup draw, led by our Brazilian insulting friend, and FIFA VP, Jerome Valcke.

Now from the jump, after what happened during World Cup voting, I would think that FIFA would be particularly sensitive to gatherings by FIFA when decisions are made.

I know, I know, this is not a "voting situation", it should be as simple as picking names from a bowl. I mean (8) teams were being picked into (2) groups of (4), and no (2) teams from the same region could be in the same group (Spain and Italy, and Brazil and Uruguay had to be in different groups). Easy peasy. Even Valcke declared as much by saying, "It's an easy draw ..."

How that one work out?

Not so good, as Uruguay was placed in the same group as Brazil, who was rightly atop Group A as host nation. A circus quickly followed, the full details of which can be read here, and here.

Ah poor Jerome, red faced in front of a worldwide audience for picking names out of a hat. I had to wonder how he would do as a referee.

His excuse, “It’s sad these things happen in life, this is my first time,” he said afterwards.

Well his boss was nonplussed about the whole thing saying, (the Confederations Cup is) "... not a rehearsal - it is a tournament of champions."

Way to tick off you boss Jerome.

Now listen, I am not picking on him because he made a mistake, we all do at times. My comment comes into play because FIFA needs to get this stuff right. Voting, selections, pairings, in front of a world wide audience needs to be done the right way.

This is the guy responsible for the WORLD CUP in about a year, and he can't get (8) teams straight, and ticks off the Brazilian government when cowering under a "translation mistake."

Come on.

I think we need a goal line technology equivalent for FIFA's EX-COM decisions to put them equally on display for the mistakes they make.

Maybe something like Veruca Salt ran into from the original Willy Wonka.
In this clip Mr. Valcke is player by Ms. Salt. Result of her decision is obvious.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Get your a$$ out there ...

So as many of you know, I am trying to transform myself from professional soccer referee, into amateur bicycle racer.

In the former life I was training 4 or 5 days a week during the season, and 5 or 6 days a week in the off season, working with a professional trainer.

This generally included cardio, flexibility, and strength training days, with a rest day or two in there as well.

In my "transformation" I have taken up a similar pattern by utilizing a professional trainer (specific to cycling), and find myself training 5 or 6 days a week for anywhere between 1 to 3 hours a day. I would love to do more, but real life is getting in the way ... and has the priority which was not always the case when I was a professional referee.

This training can get particularly lonely, especially as pictured above, you are out in the cold for 3 hours at a time, and no one else is crazy enough to go with you. This would happen as a referee too, wind, rain, snow, cold ... but it was critical to train outside.


Well, in both sports you don't always get the luxury to compete in 70 degree, sunny weather. It can rain during a match, or a race. Just the other week while spectacular weather for the NEOTHSL finals, there was a snap in the air as there should be in November here in the Northeast.

To train seriously and really be ready for the season, you can't hide indoors all off-season.

Take a look at "Personal Best - Winter Training - Faster and Safer Indoors?" from the NYT.

The fact that training indoors can be up to 10% easier than outside is intuitive to someone who has trained in both places. Consider this however ... for those of us who live in the Northeast of the US, it can be hard to train year round outside, yet it is reasonable to be "called on" at any time to referee around the world as a FIFA referee. Even for those National referees, there are off season training camps with mandatory fitness tests.

Refereeing (or racing) requires year round fitness.

I'll say this too ... while refereeing is not (as) competitive as racing, there is certainly competition ... usually friendly in nature. I was just reminded of the fact that BIG gains can be made by training hard in the off season. When so many have their bike (or running shoes) away, an athlete can make big strides during this time when others will struggle in the spring.

This is somewhat my mantra as I mount my bike in the early morning cold and snow. "You want to be a big time bike racer, you have to train in the winter."

Referees need to take a similar tact to be ready for the big time.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

All hail Sepp!!

FIFA head hails goal tech advances

SAO PAULO — FIFA president Sepp Blatter hailed technical advances in the game Friday as the organisation prepares to try out goalline technology at the upcoming World Club Cup in Japan.

"There is no revolution in football -- there is evolution. There will always be errors from referees because they are human beings," said Blatter. ...

See the whole story here, from AFP.

Kicking Back Comments: He goes on to say in the article this is the only technology he wants to see in The Game. To that I say (a) I don't believe him as he will turn on the referees again in the next crisis, and (b) he will only continue to hail it so long as it works. First time it fails, he'll be done.