Tuesday, July 8, 2014

FIFA Has It Backwards ...

Referee who missed Luis Suárez bite gets Brazil v Germany semi-final

The referee who failed to see Luis Suárez bite an opponent has been picked to officiate Brazil’s World Cup semi-final against Germany.

Fifa says on its website that Marco Rodríguez of Mexico will referee the match in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday.

Rodríguez has handled two World Cup matches – Uruguay’s 1-0 win against Italy on 24 June and Belgium’s 2-1 defeat of Algeria. It is his third World Cup finals and the first time he has refereed a game in the knock-out stages. ...

See the whole story here, from The Guardian.

Kicking Back Comments: I'll say honestly, I think had a better tournament to date than Marco. While both are supremely qualified, I think the edge goes to Mark on this one.

Being a 4th official is no small matter to say the least, and being chosen is an honor ... one which he will do us proud with.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


Danish teen wins FIFA Interactive World Cup by outplaying almost two million entrants in FIFA 14 PlayStation battle

While his nation did not make it to the real World Cup, 18-year-old August Rosenmeier did his bit for Danish pride by beating England’s David Bytheway 3-1 on Thursday to win the FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC). Rosenmeier, who said he 'trains' four to six hours a day, won $20,000.

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A Danish teenager has claimed the virtual World Cup by beating his English rival in the final of the online Playstation gaming competition, overcoming a field of almost two million entrants.

While his nation did not make it to the real World Cup, 18-year-old August Rosenmeier did his bit for Danish pride by beating England’s David Bytheway 3-1 on Thursday to win the FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC). ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of the NY Daily News.

Kicking Back Comments: Might have well been the real World Cup ... Football starts, prize money, glory ... I have to believe this young man feels the same way.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Well I'll Be A Monkeys' Uncle

Police Say Ticket Scam Involved a FIFA Official

Brazilian police have arrested 11 people on charges of illegally reselling tickets to World Cup matches, and police allege that the source of the tickets is a senior official at FIFA, soccer's international governing body.

Rio de Janeiro police officials didn't name the FIFA official and said they are still working to determine his identity. FIFA said it is cooperating with the investigation.

Police said the accused obtained tickets meant for sponsors, nongovernmental organizations and national teams. The tickets were then illegally resold for several times their face value. Police estimate that the accused netted about $100 million from selling the tickets. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of WSJ.

Kicking Back Comments: So while innocent until proven otherwise, we now see another Blatter, Philippe Blatter, principle at Match AG and nephew to Sepp Blatter, possibly implicated in this as well.

What an odd coincidence eh?

Friday, July 4, 2014

FIFA meets Barry Manilow

For those who may not understand the reference (I am showing my age) please go here for the video.

It is in reference to some recent news out of Brazil where FIFA has been implicated in a ticket scalping operation apparently run out of the FIFA headquarters and hotel ... wait for it ... the Copacabana.

You can't make this stuff up folks.

The Guardian provided this gem at, World Cup 2014: Fifa official linked to $100m ticket scandal – police.

Aside from the silly song reference, and my knee jerk reaction of "who didn't think there was scalping going on?", was the ultra covert, black ops code name the Brazilian PD had for their sting ...

Operation Jules Rimet.

Wow ... who would have ever guessed.

It would need to be something way more Tom Clancy, like "Operation Blue Balls" in reference to the FIFA logo, or maybe "Operation Swiss Cheese" referring to FIFA's origin.

Then again maybe I am overthinking a bunch of FIFA suits using a middle man to sell tickets at 8x their face value and finding another way to screw the people of Brazil.

FIFA of course when faced with this news came up with a stunning rebuttal ...

"Maybe it's not from FIFA ..."

Again, you can't make this stuff up folks.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

There is still a US team in the World Cup (Hat tip @mtn335)

After a full couple of days of what I would call US successes (Mark Geiger and team, and the USMNT) I still believe that our US refereeing team is still very much in the tournament.

While there has been some criticism (First time criticizing a referee eh Keshi? That's believable.) of Mark and teams' performance during the FRA v. NGA match, largely surrounding the caution Mark issued ... as opposed to a send off as many would have liked ... I think the call was perfect.

"But Pete!", folks are asking me, "how can that be given the video we saw." ... and the still immediately below?

Image courtesy of ESPN

My answer is three fold.
  1. Matuidi was not "headhunting" or with any malice, or more appropriately, overly carless, reckless, or in a disproportionately forceful way went after Onazi that would merit a send off for Serious Foul Play. It was a foul, clearly. It was a caution, certainly. No more. Matuidi was genuinely remorseful after the tackle ... and not a "I just got caught" remorse. It was a real, "crap that was not what I intended" remorse. (Hold those "that does not matter" thoughts)
  2. Mark was Johnny on the Spot and was clear about the caution. It was not a "lets wait and see." He booked him instantly ... and all accepted the decision inside the field.
  3. A send off I believe would have likely ruined a fabulous match. It would have taken a match almost perfectly in balance (see stats below) and would have required 35'+ of 10 v. 11 play, completely disrupting the nice flow this match had to it.

Image courtesy of Google

This one comes down to the very real issue faced by referees at the World Cup (in particular). Balance is king. FIFA wants to see every team afforded every opportunity to decide matches on their own without undue interference from the referee.

Think about some of the "soft" penalties we saw earlier in the tournament and late penalty calls that resulted in dramatic finishes (I'm not blaming referees for bad behavior on a players part) ... it threw these matches out of "balance" and we did not see these referees or ARs again.

Let's go back to ... if they did it, the player should pay for it ...

Well, I hate to say this, but not at this level, or even at a high level professional match. Lets face it folks, stars are protected and they should be ... also frankly ... at this level it is more about getting a fair shake than what the laws say.

It's the biggest of the big boy games and if you look at the video or watched the match, the players accepted the decision and got on with it. If they did not, there would have been much more for Mark to deal with.

So based on this (some may ask) if the score was already 2-0, would this have been a send off?

My answer is that I'd be willing to bet it would have.

On the surface this may seem dramatically unjust, and even bias to a degree that players who commit wrong acts may get to stay for virtue of the situation.

It is however exactly what I am saying. Not only do different matches (as a whole) but also different points in a match require different management.

For me, at that time, in that match, with those teams in that tournament, a caution was Mark's only real option to keep that match where it was. With that caution, he maintained balance ... which is ultimately what referees at that level are judged for.

Short of a capricious decision by FIFA, I believe we will see Mark and team one more time this World Cup. I don't think it will be the final (I think this goes to Irmatov) and honestly the quarter finals based on the team stack up may be unlikely. (FRA-GER, no as GER was in USA group and they just did FRA; BRA-COL, most likely but a longshot with the host nation, likely a UEFA referee; ARG-BEL, no as BEL eliminated the US; NED-CRC, no as CRC is in CONCACAF)

A semi-final would be a dream assignment and a platinum star for the US team.

In any case, I believe the whole team is in the running with their excellent work. While we may not see them again ... Mark at 39 is ripe for the next World Cup in 2018 with some amazing experience under his belt.

We'll see ... but be assured I am pulling for our remaining US team.