Friday, July 31, 2015

We need *more* crying in baseball

My comment is from looking at video of Wilmer Flores here, where he became understandably upset, to the point of tears, when he learned (or thought he did) he was going to be traded. Lets face it, the Mets are an organization he has been with since he was (16) years old and to be forced to up and move from what you knew since you were (literally) a kid is traumatic.

I for one was heartened to see this as far too often we see professional athletes taking their "fame" for granted and not seemingly giving a care to the very thing they are supposed to love. It is clear Flores does.

This goes for referees (of all sports) too. I wish people would take the time and emote as officials. Show you are human and share how you feel (within some bounds) to the players and spectators. Empathy, happiness, anger, even sadness ... it's all fair game.

Try it some time, you may be pleasantly surprised at the reactions you get.

All that said, the scene from A League of Their Own is classic. It also is not lost on me the umpire tried to help the manager there ... to which he was rebuked most ... hilariously. Explicit language warning. =)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

... and good riddance Herr Bach.

As we saw the other day, Boston firmly rejected the USOC and in turn the IOC's opportunity to host the 2022 Summer Olympics. As I wrote earlier, I was thrilled to see this as frankly, the cost overruns would be put on the backs of the citizens of Boston and Massachusetts. Real kudos to No Boston Olympics who lead the charge despite being maligned by one politician as #10peopleontwitter. Secondary kudos to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Governor Charlie Baker for having the courage (in Marty's case) and the forethought to investigate (in Charlie's case) before getting squeezed by the USOC and IOC. As I stated earlier, neither give two hoots about Boston. They are here for the cash and leave a wake of trash behind.

Don't believe me? Take a trip to Atlanta and visit the sites of the 1996 Olympics. They are dormant and weed filled in some cases.

Even better were some of the demands from the IOC. You have to read them to believe them but they included:
  • Separate lanes should be created on all roads where IOC members will travel, which are not to be used by regular people or public transportation.
  • The IOC president shall be welcomed ceremoniously on the runway when he arrives.
  • IOC members shall be greeted with a smile when arriving at their hotel.
  • Meeting rooms shall be kept at exactly 20 degrees Celsius at all times.
  • The hot food offered in the lounges at venues should be replaced at regular intervals, as IOC members might “risk” having to eat several meals at the same lounge during the Olympics.
This is truly pathetic. It reminds me too of one of my very first professional matches. Here I was, a kid at 19 years old as an AR on a 3rd division match. It was a small, cramped locker room, but was fine. In a generous display the home team manager felt bad for the cramped quarters and took the time to lay out warm bottles of water and some chewing gum on a paper plate.

It was awesome.

It was clear these guys did not have much money but did what they could to make us feel as welcome as possible.

It was the best chewing gum I ever had to this day.

I read stuff like separate lanes or this other nonsense and just reflect on what a bunch of self indulging t*atwa##les (n. An elitist; someone unaware of their own limitations and highly critical of others.) these folks are.

Good riddance Herr Bach, you may say it is Boston's fault, but honestly, we're happy to see you go.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I can't believe my earballs

Image Courtesy of FX
For any who do not understand the reference, this is a regular line from a character named Cheryl Tunt from the FX series Archer. Cheryl has a brother Cecil who are the only two surviving members of the Tunt family. She is voiced by Judy Greer and frankly is a bit of a ditz.

I understood what she meant though when I heard Vladimir Putin state Sepp Blatter deserves Nobel Prize for his FIFA work. I'm serious, just take a look here.

Twitter reacted to the nonsense as I expected they would, with a series of clever and demeaning messages for the incident. My personal favorite was a photoshop of Putin and Sepp, joined on stage by the Sith Lord, Sauron, and Lord Voldemort. You can see this and the other images here.

One bright spot in the actual draw was the relative ease the US should qualify ... that is if they get their current act together and play like many believe they can. Let's face it, the Gold Cup was a huge disappointment for them and some soul searching may be in order to get back to business.

That said, I for one have faith the US will qualify for 2018. Once we get there however, I am concerned what we may find. As I have said before however, one teams early exit is another teams good fortune. Should the US exit early, it makes it far easier for a US refereeing crew to progress on. After the stellar performance Mark Geiger put in last year I look forward to another fabulous showing from a US refereeing team.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Good Riddence

A final blow to Boston’s Olympic bid

WHAT CAN YOU say about a $5 billion plan that died? The collapse of the city’s Olympic dream on Monday, less than seven months after the United States Olympic Committee picked Boston as its bid city, comes as a bitter blow to the many people who devoted their energy and time to advocate for the Games. Despite months of effort, the plan fell apart after Mayor Walsh refused to guarantee that taxpayers would cover any cost overruns. The USOC is reportedly seeking to cobble together a last-minute plan with Los Angeles or another city to bid for the 2024 Games. Although the process started vital, far-reaching discussions about the city’s future, ultimately the people of Massachusetts never got a fair chance to weigh in by voting in a referendum. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of the Boston Globe.

Kicking Back Comments:
I for one, and as a resident of Massachusetts, am glad to see this fail. While as the article states and I agree, it is a great starting point for some conversations about how to continue to remake Boston, which is truly an amazing city. Given the realities about hosting an Olympics in the US, which with one exception has been a massive money loss that city, state, and federal tax payers hold the bag for, I don't want anything to do with it.

A reality is as well, the IOC does not give two hoots about the host country, like FIFA, it is a corrupt organization that bilks money from various countries and leaves waste in its path.

What remains so sad is that sport, true sport, is spectacular when acted out by the best in the world. It is a joy to watch. What is so foul however, are the corrupt beggars that put themselves first and sport second.

Good riddance IOC. I am happy to see the bid fail but remain sorry to think of the next country that will be fleeced for bribes and left with nothing when it is done.

Monday, July 27, 2015

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Legal Week Finale: Swiss v. Brodkin - So totally worth it!

Simon Brodkin reveals cash he threw at FIFA President Sepp Blatter was $600 of his own money... and police gave all of it back

  • Comedian Simon Brodkin showered Sepp Blatter in cash in prank
  • Brodkin evaded security to gain access to FIFA press conference in Zurich
  • He threw $600 bundle of dollars over Blatter before security removed him
  • Brodkin was charged by Swiss authorities with trespassing
  • He revealed the cash was his own and he is taking the charges 'seriously' 
Comedian Simon Brodkin has revealed the money he showered over FIFA President Sepp Blatter was $600 of his own money - and that he received all of it back from the police.

Brodkin, best known for his comedy alter egos Lee Nelson and Jason Bent, evaded security to storm a press conference at FIFA headquarters in Zurich on Monday and throw the dollar bills at Blatter.

He was arrested and charged with trespassing by the Swiss authorities on Tuesday before being released to return to the UK. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of Mail Online.

Kicking Back Comments: OMG, this was fabulous. If there is a legal defense fund, I'll be down for some!! Great prank that I can only hope FIFA does not intent to press charges on. They have much bigger fish to fry.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Legal Week Day 5: The Extradition of Jack Warner

On July 27, 2015 Jack Warner is scheduled to appear in a New York court to face his portion of the indictment (from Legal Week Day 4). There is only one problem ... Trinidad & Tobago won't let him go.

Unlike Henry Webb who did not fight extradition (and I think smartly as the first ones in get the deals), Warner has dug in his proverbial heels and is fight it. Garvin Nicholas, T&T's AG is reviewing the matter now and some experts have stated it could take up to 5 years (!) for this to happen (source).

The US and T&T do have extradition treaties with each other and can be viewed here (the Trinidad version).

Here too is where fugitives have to be careful as if the Feds want you, really want you, they are going to get you and have unlimited resources and time to do it. Take a look at Barry Bonds, who the Feds have chased for over 10 years now, and have just decided to stop prosecuting after ten's of millions of dollars spent. Mr. Warner is in for a long ride.

I dunno, I would think that he would do well to come to the States with his "mountain of documentation" and blow every other FIFA criminal out of the water ... then as for witness protection.

Get ready Somewhere USA, that slick talking elderly guy that *really* likes soccer who just moved in named "Jack Warren" may not be who you think it is.

I see a screen play ... this FIFA move keeps getting better in my head.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Legal Week Day 4: US DOJ v. Jeffery Webb et al

If I ever forget, anyone out there please remind be never to tick off the US DOJ.

For all interested the DOJ has posted their indictment publicly here. It is 164 pages of really, really, dense, largely technical details of just how deep the rabbit hole goes, so to speak.

I'm not going to go through the indictment other than to say the (14) folks, Jeffery Webb especially as he is here in the US as our guest, are certainly feeling the heat. Also, and this became clear to me when Sepp and Gerome refused (not failed) to come to Canada to present the Women's World Cup trophy, everyone else is hearing footsteps in the evening as folks are afraid to set foot in countries friendly to extradition with the US.

In a supreme act of cowardice however, Issa Hayatou, who while not on the indictment, has been under investigation for corruption charges, was essentially made a canary in a coal mine and pushed out to present the trophy to the US Women's team (under a shower of BOOs) and was no doubt watched by Sepp from his Swiss lair to see if our friends to the north were willing to arrest the man on the spot.

It will not end well for these folks as Webb has had to ransom off his riches to make bail and pay for his own private security when he is awaiting trial. I expect similar fates for the others on the DOJ's list. The NYT has a nice chart here. It's on my wall with a few "X's" through it now.

I actually think the DOJ is playing this well and at the end of the day, we will see Sepp here for a visit as well. Unless he goes all rogue or something ... THAT would be a plot for a real movie from FIFA. Not the $1310 BOMB it just made which is now being called the worst movie in history. I can almost see Sepp in this one ... as the bad guy, little FIFA ring and all.

Let's face it ... it is only a matter of time for Sepp and company now. There is a price to pay however. Has anyone asked why Dan Flynn was on the Hill the other day in front of the Senate and not Sunil Gulati?

Yeah, it may be because he knew in advance what Andrew Jennings was going to say, calling for his resignation. I would hate to think it was because he did not want anything on the record.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Legal Week Day 3: Gregory and Mary Ellias, Administrators of the Estate of Hayden Ellias, deceased vs. Porter Athletic Equipment Company, et. al.

While the particular case is tragic and long settled, this story is heartbreaking and when I first reported on it has continued to captured my thoughts and feelings on the topic to this very day.

Sadly, unsecured goals are a very serious and continuing problem world wide. To date, in the US and Canada since 1979 there have been a minimum of (39) deaths and (57) injuries (source).

Not interesting nor surprising is when I last wrote about this about a year ago, the title of my article was, 38 Dead Children; 56 More Injured.

Notice something?

Yes ... there have been more deaths and reported injuries from just a year ago.

Recall Law I where goals must be securely anchored to the ground.

No excuses folks, just do it. It's quick, it's easy, and will save a life.

Consider the alternative. In additional to a lifetime of regret and emotional trauma knowing you may have stopped a life from being lost or forever altered, there is little doubt in my mind in addition to that emotional burden, you will almost certainly be looking at being named as a co-defendant in a civil suit where you as a referee have an *affirmative duty* to make sure the field is safe and goals are safely anchored.

Save a life.

Save yourself the hassle.

Check the nets and don't play unless they are safe.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Legal Week Day 2: Mehr et al v. Federation Internationale de Football Association et al

Back in August of 2014 a group of parents sued FIFA and several US based soccer organizations, claiming in part they failed to warn or protect children from concussions. A particular focus regarded repetitive heading of the ball.

While the suit was dismissed (opinion here) for reasons I will briefly go into, there is a point lurking in there somewhere as some of the sports greats and future greats have had a career cut short due to these injuries. Taylor Twellman comes to mind among many.

We have seen the serious effects of concussion (in general in The Game) not just from headers in the 2014 World Cup with a staggering Christoph Kramer asking the referee " ... is this the final?"

In the US, risks of head injuries in sports has been a recurring concern. In mid-2014 the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) agreed to settle a head injury lawsuit by creating a $70 million fund for concussion testing. Some of the same lawyers involved in that case filed the subject lawsuit.

While the suit at hand sought no "direct damages" (i.e. money to the plaintiffs) it did look to institute a (unbelievably broad) medical monitoring program, as well as attorneys fees and tried to alter the LOTG to "limit" the number of time players could head the ball and making it "easier" to substitute if such an injury is suspected.

The suit against FIFA was dismissed and can not be brought again as the judge made it clear FIFA had no standing in such a case. In short, the ties to the US game are too tenuous to drag them into court over this issue. Plaintiffs tried *hard* to do this ... but no avail.

The suit against the US organizations, see p.3 of the opinion for a nifty chart, was also dismissed, but not prejudicially so ... it can come back, and I believe will. In part the dismissal was the fact the all of the plaintiffs did not currently have injuries that were being claimed. In short, they (fortunately) all recovered from their injuries that lead to the suit in the first place. Also part of the decision was the fact the parents (of the minors) knew and assumed the risk of the possibility of injury of the type claimed.

There were a few statements when this was first filed that caught my eye. First was the AYSO saying it's "... highest priority is creating a safe and nurturing environment where kids can play and have fun ..." and AYSO requires any player exhibiting signs of a concussion immediately be removed for the remainder of the day.


Any AYSO referees out there aware of that? It is certainly not uniformly adopted across the US.

Also, from the attorneys, a well crafted and foreboding statement:
"For many families soccer is seen as a terrific alternative to football ... . Parents are often relieved when their children choose soccer. However, soccer ranks among the top sports in the number of concussions per game."

I'll tell you folks (and for any who have heard me speak on the topic you have) as a referee, don't mess around here. If a player takes a knock in the head, stop the game and get the coaches. Don't evaluate, don't try to play through, stop and get the coach or trainer.

Also, know the symptoms of a concussion, not to medically diagnose one as this by many reports can take 8-10 minutes, but to be casually familiar if you see such behavior. If you do, stop the match and get the coach or trainer. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, stop right there.

We are in a funny time right now where the rule making bodies and organizing folks are under threat of suit, scared, and don't know how to proceed as a whole. (In conversations it is clear many folks do know how to proceed but getting a large body to agree is the issue here) As referees lets make it easy on them, and in turn ourselves.

A blow to the head, stop, get help, and remove the player.

Signs of a concussion, stop, get help, and remove the player.

Yes, you may tick a few folks off in stopping play when particularly advantageous circumstances exists, but I would argue, those folks who would ask to continue when another player is suffering such a condition, have a "head injury" themselves.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Legal Week Day 1: "Deflategate"

So unless you have been traveling on New Horizons somewhere near Pluto you have heard of "Deflategate" where various members of the New England Patriots have been accused of doctoring game balls and then covering up that event.

This has a life of its own now and with an announcement out any day now from the NFL league office I am going to let it be, with one exception ... the referees.

Interestingly, the "Wells Report" commissioned by the NFL and created by investigator Ted Wells is highly complimentary of the officiating crew and states in part Dr. Walt Anderson, the referee for the contest and a 19-year NFL veteran, as an organized, by-the-book, detail-orientated referee.

Fro the report itself:
“It is obvious that he approaches his responsibilities with a high level of professionalism and integrity.”

It is also stated how Dr. Anderson tested the footballs before the AFC title game, noting he had not one, but two air-pressure gauges, and used a gold pen to mark the footballs that were tested. He also marked the spare footballs in case they were to be used, but only after asking NFL senior director of officiating Alberto Riveron for permission.

Understanding that the LOTG spells out how the balls have to be prepared for The Game, what other procedures do you use to assure the balls used are ones that have been tested.

Now you may think this is not a big deal ... and in general I may have agreed as generally a referee may give a ball the "Charmin Test" before putting it in play and no more.

At the professional and international level this is a daunting task and is generally delegated to the 4th official and there are a couple of dozen balls to go through and requires a pressure gauge to make sure the pressure is correct as players are increasingly sensitive to such changes.

Now, I am going to recommend folks start carrying a pressure gauge and a marker pen to even youth matches. Why you ask, surely not due to "Deflategate"?

Nope, I have no fear of FIFA coming down on me as a referee if a ball is under, or more importantly over inflated.

My reason is, and this is a stretch, as we will see tomorrow there was a HUGE lawsuit that was just dismissed, but I have no doubt is coming back and is over soccer players, headers, and concussions. My logic is simple, the harder the ball, the possible greater chance of a concussion (up to a 30% in this report for heading). While the particular suit did not involve referees directly ... how soon is it before a referee gets questions about ball pressure or is required to show before each match the ball was properly inflated? After all, we should be doing this anyway.

Whacky ... yes ... a bit ... but when you see the verdict and some info I will present about concussions later this week, you may at least pause to make sure a ball gets more than the Charmin test before a match. Get in the habit now ... gauge it, fix it, mark it ... done.

Special trivia for the FIFA video above too ... can anyone name the FIFA referee at :53 of the video? I'll give you a hint ... he is really not welcome in Italy and was recently released from jail. I was very surprised FIFA used him in the video (2) years after his conviction.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

"Legal Week" At Kicking Back

Readers of Kicking Back,

Over the last few weeks there have been more than a few "legal stories" in the news regarding soccer. This next week I will share them with you as well as some opinions about the future that may result from my point of view. These are more than just the FIFA goings-on, but some other things that affect every single referee.

We start tomorrow ... stay tuned.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Will they get a Caution from "The Don?"

MLS players react to picks of Lampard, Gerrard for All-Star Game

The first 13 names on the 2015 MLS All-Star team caused no small amount of consternation among players and fans. Neither of the league's top two leading goal scorers (Columbus' Kei Kamara and Toronto's Sebastian Giovinco) made the Fan XI, which is determined via online voting. Columbus' Ethan Finlay, a rising star who currently leads the league in assists, also failed to garner enough votes.

But no two names aroused as much criticism from fellow players as the two "Commissioner's picks" for the event: NYCFC's Frank Lampard and the L.A. Galaxy's Steven Gerrard. Both high-profile midfielders have only just started training with their clubs, and neither had played a single second of MLS action at the time Commissioner Don Garber summoned them to appear in the All-Star game.

Players league-wide took to Twitter to vent their frustrations. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of

Kicking Back Comments: This is brilliant stuff from these players!! Kudos to all of them for their clever responses to (a good business and) a poor player management decision. 

I get what Mr. Garber is doing and from a league perspective (of which he is responsible) it makes sense. From the perspective of equity for players who actually deserve to be playing in that All Star match, he of course is dead wrong. Then again, life is not fair either.

All that aside, it is great to see players have the courage to shoot a few barbs @thesoccerdon as he earned them. I do wonder however, if there will be any fines or other "cautionary tales" coming back at these folks.

Stay Tuned.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Boston Testing New Child Protection for Soccer

See the whole silly article and video (!)  here, courtesy of the

Kicking Back Comments: I'm not sure why they picked soccer to do this with frankly ... running full tilt into an opponent does not seem like much fun. Clearly these guys have not taken physics and what effect greatly varied masses have on impact force ...

Funny none the less.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Very Cool SI ... Very Cool

SI honors World Cup-winning U.S. women with a cover for each player

The U.S. women’s national team made history by becoming the first to win three Women’s World Cups, snapping a 16-year title drought to do so by beating Japan 5-2 in the final and capping a memorable month in Canada.

To honor that achievement, Sports Illustrated has come up with a one-of-a-kind cover shoot. Instead of one cover to honor the 23 players and coach Jill Ellis, one for each of them. From Golden Ball winner Carli Lloyd to veteran stalwarts Abby Wambach and Megan Rapinoe to backup goalkeepers Alyssa Naeher and Ashlyn Harris, each member of the World Cup-winning squad, posing with the World Cup trophy, has her own cover as part of a unique set. ...

See the whole article here, courtesy of

Kicking Back Comments: While the title says it all, I was very concerned about one thing ... In the article I saw AARP now has Brandi Chastain as a spokesperson!! She is 46 years old. Now ignoring momentarily I am about the same age as Brandi ... is there a substantial generation gap between the juggernaut team of ole and today?

It certainly gave me pause ...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Kicking Back - OUT!

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Over the next week or so I am going to be out and about and generally unavailable.

We would like to wish all our readers of Kicking Back a happy, safe, and mindful holiday season over this Independence Day.

We'll certainly be back at it for a recap on the Womens' World Cup and other significant happenings on our return.

Thanks for reading!