Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Frankly, I don't blame him ... well maybe a little

Brazilian football referee pulls GUN on the pitch after row over red card

A Brazilian referee is facing disciplinary action after he reacted to a dispute with players by pulling a GUN.

Gabriel Murta was kicked and slapped by players from lower-league Amantes de Bola, while the manager invaded the pitch demanding a red card, it is claimed.

Murta, said to be a policeman by day, reacted by racing to the changing rooms and returning with a firearm. ...

See the whole story (and video) here, courtesy of Mirror.

Kicking Back Comments: I have to say frankly that part of me wonders why this does not happen more, where referees lash out physically. There have been a number of recent incidents that come to mind where a referee has been killed as a result of player violence. See here, here, here, and here (warning very graphic content). This last incident saw a referee killed, quartered, beheaded, and his severed head placed on a pike near midfield. There have been dozens more assaults and hundreds more of provocations by players. See here for some other examples. So what is stopping referees from fighting back? Duty? Honor? Respect for the craft?

I do agree that brandishing a weapon is not the way, and in fact if this occurred in the US it would be considered a crime, not self defense as the referee went back into the locker room to retrieve the weapon and come back out to confront the player who assaulted him.

How long before we see a referee provoked into assaulting a player?

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Must Read From Football Zebras

How rampant are outside influences in crew decisions?

Something odd struck a few officiating observers during the surprise onside kickoff to start overtime in the Rams-Seahawks game. Beyond the fact that an onside kick was attempted and beyond the difficulty in enforcing the proper penalties, something was clearly not adding up.

After the possession and enforcement were set, I called a former official about the decision that was made on the kickoff for clarification. In the discussion, I said, “it looks like they reversed their decision because someone got in their headset and told them.” This official, who had yet to see the play, said “I’m sure someone guided them. How do you get from [the kickoff being kicked] ‘into the ground’ to ‘didn’t touch the ground’ by discussing it?” ...

See the whole article here, courtesy of

Kicking Back Comments: This is a brilliant insight and frankly a real problem. As we know from our sport, with products like RefTalk, we are now subjected to outside information all the time. I expect with MLS "leading the way" (cough) with video replay that we will see more interference of referees decisions and "input" (cough - cough) from folks other than the referees inside the field.

Now some would rightly say that I am a purist and I would agree, but there is a larger issue at play here and it has to deal with the consistency regarding the officiating. There may be times that a 3rd party dispassionate view of things may be warranted. Goals are a good example. Either it crossed the line and was between the posts and under the crossbar - or it wasn't. There is no gray here - only black and white.

Beyond that, sorry folks, is gray, and should not be up for debate by anyone except those inside the field. Why you may ask? Well my answer is both simple and complex all at the same time.

They are the only ones who can truly feel what is going on at any time and need the freedom to manage that emotion how they see fit.

For any referee who thinks it's all about "the rules" ... think again.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Upgrade Kudos

Congratulations to the following Massachusetts referees for their significant accomplishments to upgrade! May their success continue well into the future.

Nabil Benchekroun, Tyngsboro, Grade 6

Leonard David, Malden, Grade 7

Andrew Rogers, Somerville, Grade 7

Mark Stern, Somerville, Grade 7

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

There's Rule #95 Again

Not all that long ago I spoke about referees not violating Rule #95 to Never Lift Your Bike Over Your Head. This was in reference to a call that two NFL officials openly celebrated during play and were incorrectly chastised for it.

This time however, the NFL official who foolishly chose to lift his bike over his head has earned the ridicule he is getting for it. Enter Mark Baltz.

Photo Courtesy
Mr. Baltz recently went onto a sports program and stated how he was always suspicious of Jim McNally, one of the locker room attendants related to #deflategate. He continued by saying that he visited New England 10 - 15 times and the conduct was so strange he reported same to the NFL.

Now the reality is very different than the story shared by Mr. Baltz where he was apparently in New England (3) times for a Brady game and there was no report filed to the NFL, per the NFL themselves.

So what the heck is going on here?

Constructed in a way most favorable to Mr. Baltz, maybe he just forgot how many times he was in New England ... heck I have lost count with the number of times I have been in particular stadiums.

The report to the NFL? Maybe he legitimately told someone and expected it to be filed. I could almost see that in some cases.

That said, while these may be a stretch, one thing is not, that Mr. Baltz intentionally put himself in the "line of fire" by agreeing to answer any questions of the type in the first place and detail his experiences for no other reason than to fan the flames of a recent controversy.

In short, he wanted his 15 minutes of fame and he lifted his bike over his head.

Only problem is, he has either been caught lying through his teeth or was so out of touch with the facts as to be not believable. I am not sure which, and I am not asking either.

Please, lets leave the playing to the players. If Mr. Baltz did indeed have questions or concerns, leave it between the referee and the league. Why is there a need to "tell all" in a hyped story?

Ultimately it has disgraced him and the craft we all share.

Your 15 minutes are up sir, please exit the stage now.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

An Ode To Bear

An Ode To Bear

Ursus Arctos is an odd name for a Canis.
Then again so is Australian for a dog from Spain.
This dog can run from Maine to the Alleghenies,
and not even break a sweat in snow, sun, or rain.

Loving and gentle as any knowing thing could ever be.
Wisdom for so few years locked behind brown eyes and smile.
Fierce as any warrior for his friends, he would die to save them.

Sadly he had to leave us before his time, of that we must agree.
A new chapter awaits to let him run mile, after mile, after mile,
to show the world and those fools who spurned him he is a gem.

Kicking Back Comments:
The world is a little bit darker today for my family and I as we see one of our own move onto the next challenge in his life. He will thrive as he always has. Caring and fierce to serve those who love him. So many lessons he taught in such a short time. May he teach his next home too.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

More arrests for FIFA

U.S. Attorney General Expects More FIFA Arrests, Maybe Even Sepp Blatter's

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Monday that she anticipated “pursuing additional charges against individuals and entities” in the government’s ongoing probe into corruption within FIFA and soccer more generally.

Lynch made the statement at a joint news conference with Swiss authorities in Zurich, where she touted the breadth of the investigation as well as the cooperation with other authorities ...

See the whole article, linked above, courtesy of Deadspin.

Kicking Back Comments: I gotta say, seeing Sepp paraded out in his jammies in the early morning Swiss hours would be kind of great.

He is already afraid to come to the US and Canada ... and with the Swiss probe on (take note of the location of the news conference) we may see this sooner than later.

Heck ... what am I going to write about when he is jailed?

Monday, September 14, 2015

It was hilarious until 1:20

So I caught this truly funny mock presser from a FIFA 16 match courtesy of Metro. You can see it below too.

It is a hilarious concept and was done fairly well, until 1:20 when the "manager" called the "referee" a racist.

Now before everyone starts screaming at me that it was all in jest, I get it. It was all in jest. There are some things that just aren't funny though and accusing a referee (or anyone) of racism just is not funny. Sorry.

Just to be fair I would be reacting the same way if this was something that had occurred between "players" as we see is typically the case in real life. So here we don't even have art imitating life.

It's not funny.

You want to say the referee was crap or gave a penalty that they shouldn't ... great. That's funny ... it's a computer program.

But claims about racism ... not funny.

Honestly though, if you exclude that 10 seconds of video, it is truly brilliant. For me, they *just* missed on this one.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Oh it's on now Mexico ...

... and if the US plays like it did again Brazil ... we are done for.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Never Forget

Photon Credit: Telegraph/Reuters/Lucas Jackson

Friday, September 4, 2015

On second thought ... #deflategate is a pretty big stain ...

Take a look at the #deflategate decision here, courtesy of the Boston Globe.

For those even casually acquainted with legal circles a few things shown through.

First, Tom Brady was not suddenly declared "innocent" (this was not a criminal trial anyway), the process used to determine his punishment was fatally defective, nothing more.

Second, that process was so poorly handled it defied "fundamental fairness" and let me say that you really have to screw up to miss that bar given the CBA in place at the NFL. While not expressly stated it seems clear these were not a series of mistakes. If they were ... wow ... just wow.

Third, Judge Berman's decision was akin to an AMRAAM attack on an anthill. It was a complete and utter evisceration of many of the principles in the CBA regarding punishment for players. In short, the NFL is going to have to fundamentally change directions on how they handle same. With this decision, the NFL should be on notice. This will serve as a negative to legitimate wrong doers as well, who will use the defective process to skirt appropriate punishment. That too is just as bad as using poor process on an individual who does not deserve it.

Finally, the NFL has gone after one of its best marketing assets. It has tarnished the image of the "Golden Boy of Football." Tom Brady is an ambassador for the NFL and has worked hard at that image. For the league to pursue the cause to begin with and continue it until this point (I believe they will withdraw the appeal ... and the fact they did not ask for a stay was telling too) seems completely opposite of the goals of the league which are to (a) make as much money as possible and (b) appear a wholesome lot while doing so.

Tom Brady allowed both, and the NFL in their infinite wisdom just $h!t all over him.