Monday, November 17, 2014

MLS v. US Soccer - Round 1

Jurgen Klinsmann firm on young player advice as MLS frustration grows

On Oct. 15, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber took issue with U.S. national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann for comments that were deemed "detrimental" to MLS.

Garber objected to Klinsmann saying it would be "very difficult" for U.S. internationals Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey to maintain their best form after the duo returned to play in MLS after extended spells in Europe.

Now it appears there was more to Garber's ire than met the eye. Seattle Sounders minority owner Adrian Hanauer, Philadelphia Union CEO and operating partner Nick Sakiewicz, and several other sources have told ESPN FC that there is growing frustration within the league over the advice Klinsmann and U.S. soccer staff are giving to youth national team and MLS academy players. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of ESPN.

Kicking Back Comments:

Now when this matter first came up publicly abound mid-October seemed kind bad ... but honestly after thinking abut it from the larger perspective it is great for US players and still bad for US referees.

On the player side, why shouldn't a player who is good enough, and having a coach who has the connections, look at a chance to play in Europe? I would think the relative test is what is in the best interest of the player, right? 

I hate to say it, but European soccer is better than MLS and if the commish is looking to strong-arm the US Soccer coaching staff in not recommending looking abroad, same on MLS. Now, if that same staff is ONLY recommending playing abroad, that is another matter entirely. There seems to be no outward indication of this however.

For referees, the news remains bleak. Although there is an exchange program that is going on now within MLS (and has been for some time - remember 1997 when Japanese referee Toru Kamikawa officiated numerous MLS matches and American referee Tim Weyland officiated J-League matches?) I will be a believer when one of these guys comes over here for MLS, and one of these guys does a match on the other side of the pond.

Until then, or when the league gains more international acclaim (I think it has some now) referees in this country will continue to be discriminated against without regard to being very, very skilled in the art as Mark Geiger showed the world earlier this year.

Friday, November 14, 2014

FIFA: Hell to host 2026 World Cup

Breaking news: Fifa say Hell will host 2026 World Cup

Fifa dismiss concerns over soaring temperatures and lack of football culture in Hell as bid leader Lucifer pays tribute to 'role model' Sepp Blatter

Hell will host the 2026 football World Cup after a Fifa report found “no reason” to overturn the controversial underworld destination’s successful bid.

A 666-page report seen by The Telegraph concluded that Fifa had acted ethically in awarding its showpiece tournament, and suggested Lucifer be compensated with “a really nice wristwatch, one with diamonds and everything” for having been put through an “unnecessary and upsetting” grilling. ...

See the whole "damned" story here, courtesy of The Telegraph.

Kicking Back Comments: ROTF LMAO!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Here comes Orlando ...

Purple huh (see them here) ...

Not a color I would have expected at all. In fact the only jersey I could find that was purple was the Man City 3rd jersey.

What was wrong with white with a nice yellow streak (a la the previous Miami Fusion). If you wanted to get crazy, how about "gator" green?

Maybe even some red and yellow ... uh hang on, that may have ticked off another Orlando resident ...

Image courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thank you Veterans ...

Photo Credit Glenn McCoy (

Monday, November 10, 2014

MLS Referee Arrested and Suspended

MLS referee suspended after workers' compensation fraud arrest

Jose Carlos Rivero will not work his scheduled MLS assignment this weekend after the Professional Referees Organization suspended him on Thursday for his recent arrest on two felony counts related to workers' compensation fraud.

Rivero, 33, was arrested by the New York State Police on Oct. 6 and released after being charged with offering a false instrument for filing and insurance fraud. He is alleged to have collected $14,000 in unlawful benefits through the New York State Workers' Compensation Board while gainfully employed, according to a release from the New York State Police earlier this month.

See the whole story here, from Fox Sports.

Kicking Back Comments: I am a huge fan of innocent until proven otherwise ... but ... when you are a public figure who is responsible for holding up the integrity of a public office, school, or sport (among other things), when you are legitimately accused of fraud, you need to go.

If I were running PRO, I would do the same thing here in suspending him immediately. Then when the proceedings are over, sever the relationship regardless of the disposition.

Seems horribly unjust you say? Maybe. But for a person in a trust position like a referee who is arrested and (likely) tried for multiple felony counts, I am not sure how you can get that trust back to remain effective in the position. We are not talking about a he-said she-said, we are talking about a multiple count felony indictment. Type and magnitude of the crime are material here. 

Recall that the authority from a referee is not from the LOTG, or the league, or some other 3rd source ... it is from the integrity of the referee themselves. I contend the source of ones' ability to manage a match inside the field is self generated and if you are not honest with yourself, you will have difficulty being honest in managing others.

Anyone every heard of Tim Donaghy? While the crime Donaghy was convicted and served time for is slightly askew from the crime Rivero is charged with, the damage to the integrity of referees and The Game is the same.

I wish Mr. Rivero good health and all the best in his next (non-refereeing) career because he should never see a MLS match again as an official.

By the way ... this whole soccer personality getting arrested reminds me of someone else I've been following in US Soccer circles. I Hope you stick around for that one.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The case of Dr. Turf and the Cowardly Judge

It sounds like something out of Encyclopedia Brown, but it is really an ESPN and Forbes article I caught the other day.

We of course are dealing with the case where the CSA and FIFA want to use artificial surfaces for the Women's World Cup coming up in 2015 and the ladies will have none of it. Honestly, they shouldn't either and I support their position. Every other World Cup has been played on grass, why not this one? The surface changes The Game without question.

Where this starts to get funny is the manner in which the matter is being brought ... as a gender discrimination case. Now the lawyer in me gets it as it would be really hard to make a legal argument around "Hey you are doing this because it is makes more economic sense as CFL teams play here too and its expensive to upkeep grass versus a synthetic."

Yes folks, shockingly this is about the money.

Now the ladies have a viable complaint as I said, albeit a poor vehicle to bring it as, I'm sorry, playing on a synthetic is not a gender issue as it affects both equally. There were a couple of other things that stood out to me in this brouhaha as well:

From this ESPN W article, even the human rights folks are cowering from this fight. From the article:

"Given the jurisdictional complexity of this case, I am far from certain that it would be possible to ... render a decision on the merits within a few months," Jo-Anne Pickel, vice chair of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, wrote in her decision Friday, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN.

For those uninitiated to double speak, this is saying the Human Rights Tribunal does not want anything to do with it as all, tacitly supporting my premise this has nothing to do with discrimination. If this was a real human rights issue, believe me, they would be a part of it.

Funniest part was FIFA charging to the rescue and providing an "expert" on the matter. His findings, and appropriate commentary, were found in Forbes in "FIFA Roll Out Their "Rug Doctor" In Women's World Cup Turf War". From that article:

To quote from Professor Harrison’s bio provided for the Geneva 2014 International Sports Convention he studied for a B.Sc. in Polymer Science at Liverpool University; was a Textile Technologist; completed a Ph. D at Loughborough; worked in Polymeric Materials; helped to develop Sport Surfaces (notice the capitalization) and worked in Industrial Flooring.

Rather than an expert who might be able to provide a balanced view FIFA instead opted for the equivalent of having Dracula speak on the need for more blood banks.

Don't wan't to provide a grass surface year round? NO PROBLEM! Provide a modular grass surface for just the World Cup. Anyone remember 1994 here in the US where FIFA refused to play on a synthetic surface? How did we solve that? We had octagons of grass that were pieced together for the matches and moved onto the synthetic surface. After matches, they were moved out in the sun to keep form. Problem solved!!

Let's face it, any World Cup should be played on grass. It's not about the gender, it's not about the money, it's about The Game and honoring it for how it was and should be played.

Can we all just agree on that? 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Up, Up, and Away

Emirates drops FIFA sponsorship over corruption allegations

Emirates is dropping its sponsorship of FIFA, becoming the first backer to abandon soccer’s governing body after allegations of corruption linked to voting on World Cup hosts and the group’s presidency.

Emirates, the world’s biggest international airline, said it won’t extend the contract that began in 2006 and concludes this year. ...

See the whole story here, from National Post.

Kicking Back Comments:
It warms my heart to see companies like Emirates (and as rumored Sony) taking action  by severing ties with FIFA as a premiere sponsor. What is sad however is companies like Samsung are ready and willing to fill the voids that are created.

While Visa and others has (to me) just made some noise about being ethical, blah, blah, blah, they apparently need Sepp doing a perp walk and splashed all over TMZ before they take action.

I hope I'm wrong, and as details about the corruption from the "Blazer files" come to light, these companies rethink their position.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Giving Rats a Bad Name Since 1996

Soccer Rat! The inside story of how Chuck Blazer, ex-U.S. soccer executive and FIFA bigwig, became a confidential informant for the FBI

New York City's Blazer, a former member of the FIFA Executive Committee and a top boss for CONCACAF, gathered information on some of international soccer's most powerful figures.

The most crucial Olympic ring of the 2012 London Games was a simple keychain, wired for sound and presented to top international soccer executive Chuck Blazer — a cooperating witness for federal law enforcement agents.

The corrupt and corpulent Blazer, once the sport’s No. 1 powerbroker in the United States, is alleged to have collected untold millions during his 20-year reign — running up a staggering $29 million in credit card charges to help fuel his extravagant lifestyle, which included a pricey Trump Tower apartment for his cats. ...

See the whole article from the NY Daily News here.

Kicking Back Comments:
I have to say honestly that while Mr. Blazer may get absolved of his legal crimes for this assistance I have no love for a man, any man, who steals so much, from so many, while parading around saying its all of the good of The Game.

His ends of trying to catch the equally corrupt thieves at FIFA do not justify the means of his own stealing. Particularly in the face of such arrogance as this.

Now part of me feels for the man as well as he has recently been diagnosed and is undergoing treatment for colon cancer. In fact, some reporting went too far in tracking Mr. Blazer down to a medical facility were he was being treated for the disease.

That said, it's not as if Chuck is the benevolent, albeit bumbling hero Jack Ryan (played by Chris Pine) in Shadow Recruit, who tries to infiltrate the bad guys by going under cover. He very simply got caught, and in order to survive, had no other choice it would seem than to help the investigation.

He reminds me more of a Walter White of Breaking Bad fame where his current job just was not able to support his family and as such turned to a life of crime to create the life style he wanted. 

I hope he helps the FBI to get all the corrupt elements of FIFA ... then Mr. Blazer himself has to pay back each and every cent he stole in the name of The Game.

Fantasy I agree, but a worthy one.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Another Way to Give Back: @OpGratitude

For those who know the history of Kicking Back, it was in part initially conceived to be a place for a place to give back to the community that essentially raised me when I was not home.

Like many of you out there I'm sure, we find ourselves out and about in the name of The Game on a very regular basis. During that time we are always interacting with others in ways that can certainly make us connect and grow. JAFO put it just right in the article "Making Connections" where Soccer Is Life and giving back is paramount.

The day after Halloween I was forwarded a mail from a neighbor who detailed a very clever way to connect and give back from a group called Operation Gratitude. From their website:

Operation Gratitude annually sends 150,000+ care packages filled with snacks, entertainment, hygiene and hand-made items, plus personal letters of appreciation, to New Recruits, Veterans, First Responders, Wounded Warriors, Care Givers and to individually named U.S. Service Members deployed overseas. Our mission is to lift the spirits and meet the evolving needs of our Active Duty and Veteran communities, and provide volunteer opportunities for all Americans to express their appreciation to members of our Military. 

One of their neatest programs however is their Halloween Candy Drive where you can donate candy that is left over and give back to a variety of communities that I am certain could use it.

What would seem like a simple way to give back, will put smiles on a lot of faces ... and keep those evil little candy bars away from me.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The more things stay the same ... they change


As all of you who are regular readers have noticed and likely those few who check in occasionally I have been "away from my post" (that works on two levels) for the last several months.

Call it life, call it lazy, call it whatever you would like, I have not been here and I apologize for that. It has been a raucous summer on a variety of fronts and throughout I have missed writing on the variety of topics I do, all through the eyes of a referee.

With that lets get started again ... but first a note of caution ... for any who have not heard, I have the honor of now being the Massachusetts State Director of Assessment so my posting may take a slightly less sharp tone at time on some things ... or not based on the particular topic.

One addition I have made however is the "Assessors Tableau." Where I will throw out topics, articles, notes, quotes, or whatever to get my fellow assessors (from around the world) thinking, noting of course that the real "front line" assessors are the referees themselves.

With that we are off again ... however I anticipate at a slower pace as I am still on the edges of crazy and don't see that slowing down anytime soon.

Thanks for reading!