Monday, July 9, 2018


There has been a lot of soccer going on due to the World Cup. And it has been fun for the most part. The one thing that I don't care for too much is the VAR. While I agree that it adds fairness to the game, it is also ripe for misapplication. For instance, the Spain-Russia match had an instance towards the end of the match where one of the Russian players was grabbing the Spaniard while there was a cross heading into the box. They decided not to review when to me it looked like a clear PK.

Evidently, there is a system of criteria that we are not fully aware of. I suspect that the VAR is being used if no one saw the incident. But if the booth believes that the center, ARs or the 4th got a good look and communicated about it and still decided to not call, then they won't push for a review. At least that it what it looks like. Still not sure I like it.

As for the only real thing that I can say is new in the soccer world at the World Cup that is something I would like to call out is all the smiling that the center referees are showing. They make a call, and for the most part, they smile. It either conveys one of two things, I saw what you did there and let's be smart about it because I am on to you or to say that they have no idea what you are saying. Either way, it looks good. The optics of it from far away convey knowledge and is probably something I will add to my repertoire.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Reffing adults while tired

So you may have seen that there is a World Cup soccer thing going in Russia. I plan to do some commentary on that. Especially something like the Poland-Senegal goal that was unfortunate and the Colombia red card in the 3rd minute of play.

But today I want to talk about reffing when mentally tired. I don't seem to have much luck or I basically commit self inflicted wounds when reffing while mentally tired. For some reason, when I am tired like I was last week (the cause was that I had to go get someone at the airport at 2am and then work a regular day and then ref a 9pm match that night), I don't deal with situations well. I see myself as have a short temper and what is worse, I noticed I was falling into this pit, sending the game into the crapper and there was little I seemed I could do to get out.

There was no reset button and the teams tried to work with me, one team realizing before the other that I was in a foul mood and they didn't talk back too much. The other one, perhaps to no fault of their own, seemed to be more than willing to take my foul mood which I couldn't seem to get a handle of and tried to see how much fouler they could make it.

It boiled over, I issued a red card for foul language and I wish I would have had some techniques to be able to deal with my terrible mood. I did not do the game any favors and felt like I blew it. I wonder what you all have in your referee bag of tricks for when you aren't 100% on your game.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Injury and other musings

Had a good scare trying to do a fitness test for the PRO matches. I was doing the men's AR test and things were going splendidly. I had the CODA test (change of direction) and that one was fine. Then came the 6 sprints. 30 meters in 4.7 seconds. Ran the first 5 just fine. All around 4.3 or 4.4 seconds. Last one, the moment I push off of my left leg to start, I feel the back of my thigh go jelly.

I finish the sprint in 4.67 seconds apparently and then I had to talk to the trainer. He said that I probably tweaked my one of the three muscles in the back that we commonly call the hamstring and to keep things warm for my run as it probably would be ok if I let my adrenaline do the running.

That test, on a good day is grueling. Each lap is 75 meters of almost sprint speeds followed by 25 meters of walking, in 4 sections. Men's FIFA AR dictates that you need to run that in 15 seconds for the 75 and 20 seconds for the 25 meters.

I managed to run three laps before my body said that it was silly to continue trying. I had to return games I had for the next day and for high school. I thought my season would be over as hamstring injuries are all about rest and elevation etc. Not really anything you can do to speed things up.

Anyway, fast forward a week and I am getting antsy, as well as feeling fine. I did a bit of jogging and things felt just fine. I even ordered some compression sleeves for the thighs but alas the post office has found a way to lose the package, so no idea where they are at the moment.

Still, I take a low level game for my standards to see if I can actually run. It is for a tournament over the Memorial Day holiday. The match is a stand alone U14 girls final. Just as I arrive at the field (grass fields only at that location), the heavens open up and down comes a lot of rain. The tournament organizer suggests that all the matches slated to start at that time to talk to the coaches to see what they want to do (wait and play or declare themselves co-champs and go home).

My two teams are from about 100 miles away and 250 miles away, so the coaches decide to call it a tie and get on the road early. Great in the sense that I am going to get paid for essentially negotiating a truce but still no idea if I can really run for any significant amount of time.

So Tuesday rolls around and I was originally scheduled for a boys regional semifinal in high school without really knowing if I could run for 80+ minutes. One goal and 4.77 miles later, I answered the question, the leg is fine. Since, I have done one other high school match and the leg felt ok as well.

On the other match, it was just recently and it was a regional semi-final, so the losing school would be done for the year. I am AR1. Game is a high friction, high intensity match with one team pushing hard for the opening goal and the other team playing some counter mixed in with a lot of fouling.

Start of the second half and the home team scores and is dominating. Many yellows are pulled for the visitors and  they cannot really break through the defense. In one of the rare mistakes, the home team loses the ball in transition and the visiting midfielder loops a long pass to two streaking attackers. One attacker going down the middle of the field is onside while the other off close to my touchline as he was slow getting back.

The looping pass kind of gets held up a bit thanks to the wind and the rain. If there had not been any elements to contend with, the ball would have gone to the central attacker who was onside, but since it did get held up, it floats more towards the offside attacker. Sure enough, the attacker runs onto the ball, makes an absolutely fantastic volley that lofts over the keeper and into the net. Enormous celebrations ensue until they see my flag up. It sucked having to call such a nice goal back.

What was worse was that there were perhaps five minutes left on the clock when that happened and so they realized that their chance of tying had pretty much slipped away. The level of hate directed at my call, at me and to referees in general was next level. To the point where we had to essentially get out of the stadium quickly because it seemed like there was a bit of mob mentality brewing.

Next time, the place to set up is not near the exit. It is let everyone else leave and then go to your car in a group. But, again, at least the leg was fine. So at least I have that going for me.

Friday, May 18, 2018

My next dilemma

Having discussed yesterday my thoughts on handling and offside, let's keep the comments coming because until I get a definite answer (and who knows, the next time I work with someone that is a 4 or during another assessment match, I will make sure to ask).

My other uneasiness on law interpretation is the on the concept of playing on and waiting for the advantage to materialize. A couple of years ago, in a competitive U15 or U16 match, I had a situation where one team is attacking and towards the top of the penalty area, a foul occurs but I play on (some of the details are gone so I am making it generic).

Anyway, defender commits a foul that I play on because the ball goes to another attacker who takes one touch and her second touch is somewhat bad and the defender clears it out. Time elapsed was probably about one second to less than two. I blow to come back to the foul and the coach gives me a hard time because they got the advantage, it was taken with the first touch and the second was beyond being "called back".

Same thing in my assessment match that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago and that I promised I would elaborate on one particular issue the next day (and then didn't because life happens).

That scenario is similar. The team that was down towards the end of the first half when a through ball is played to an attacker. The defender, seeing that it is a great opportunity for the other team, tries to grab the shirt of the attacker but he breaks free and is streaking down the side, angling towards the middle of the field. I yell play on loudly. After about 3-4 touches and about 3-4 seconds have elapsed, he makes a bad touch and that same defender that tried to grab him clears the ball upfield and the attacker takes a dive. Eventually, the ball goes out and I card the defender for attempting to break up a promising attack. The fouled team could not comprehend how I could play on, give a card and not go back to the foul. I tried to explain that in my opinion, the attacker had indeed taken advantage of the play on, and that by the time he made a bad touch, there was no "advantage didn't materialize" to go back to.

Side note on that: the team was almost all comprised of people from Jordan and they kept saying that in Jordan, you go back to that. So perhaps in other countries our colleagues hold advantages longer?

Anyway, that is the scenario. What is the point of no return on an advantage? One touch, 2-3 seconds, the attacker getting out of the jam? And of course, it goes without saying that skill level comes into play as well. But what constitutes the end of the "advantage"? Let me know in the comments below or mull it over as an icebreaker when you don't know what to talk about during a break with your next crew.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Rethinking a previous post

It is more than a hypothetical. It has happened to me, once as a center referee back in 2017 in a Adult Open match (there is a post here somewhere about it) and now a couple of weeks ago in a youth DA match. It is the dilemma of whether handling by a defender can reset offside and allow that initially offside player to legally play the ball.

If you recall in the adult match, it was a play that was debatable (at least from what I recall all this time later) whether it was intentional or not as it was withing what I call the deflection range. Close enough where one might argue that it was a deflection. However, I remember that I felt that the defender was making himself bigger and took the risk. That ball, after the handling offense, went to a player in an offside position, my AR raises his flag and the player slots it in the back of the net.

We talked it over and decided to go with the handling offense. At that time, I considered it not intentionally played by the defender but making himself bigger. Now that I think about it more, that is terrible reasoning but it is what I decided at the moment.

This one happened in a DA match, U18 girls. The match was already 3-0 in favor of the team that had the chance to score. They are attacking in a 2 on 2 situation. Both defenders are in line and the attacker off the ball is in an offside position. The girl with the ball slots it between the two defenders and the defender closest to the pass tries to somewhat cover her chest but the ball travels about 10 yards. With her arms outstretched, it hits her arm and goes to the attacker who scores.

At halftime, the lead AR said that he thought the ball was intentionally played and the center said, but it hit her arm and so if the attacker was in the offside position, he would have called the handling. And we got into the discussion again of whether offside can be reset with a handling call.

The center argued that any other foul, like a tackle, would be called and not offset the offside. To which I countered that essentially, all other fouls are against an opposing player, not the ball or the game itself. At that time, I still had the thought that handling does reset offside, as it is intentionally played by the defender, played on as advantage and therefore no offside.

Anyway, we managed to confuse ourselves, we agreed with each other's points of view and then we finished out the match to an 11-0 drubbing.

So a couple of days later, I am an AR for an assessment match and the assessor said that he thought that you had to call the handling but that he would look into it. But he never followed up and so here I am, possibly still thinking that handling can reset the offside or even worse, I am right, and there are many others that are wrong, so perhaps I have to spread the word like the gospel among my brethren.

Before I go and make "Handling before Offside" T-shirts, let me know what you think in the comments. Do you believe offside is reset if the defense commits a handling foul before the ball gets to the offside positioned attacker? Do you have a position paper or some other documentation that hints to the answer? If either of the above questions pique your curiosity, please let me know. After all, we want to make sure that this darn blog climbs out of the doldrums of soccer referee blogging leaderboard.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Top 20 Honor

Well it looks like we did it, after almost 10 years of being certified and blogging about the troubles and the benefits of being a referee, we have been recognized as the one of the top 20 blogs for soccer referees.

Here are the details in the link:

But basically, we are 15th (out if 16 mind you) in terms of popular soccer referee blogs. Frankly, I am amazed that we are in it at all but hey, I am not going to complain.

I have added the Top 20 Badge on the side of the blog and if nothing else, take a look at some of the other fine blogs for referees there are out there. There were only a couple I knew about and most of them were new to me, so they may be to you as well. Enjoy.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Only with Comms

Had an interesting match last week. It was a regular, run of the mill girls varsity high school match. Home team is up 2-1 and about 4 minutes left. Corner for the visiting team who is pushing up hard to tie the match. I am AR2 and the corner is happening in front of me while I stand as the trail AR.

The corner is taken and it hits off the near post and back to the girl who took the corner. She crosses it again and the ball is pinballing in the box. What is interesting is that my mouth started yelling into the comms "double touch" to the center referee, but I know my brain didn't consciously think it, so it was almost an involuntary uttering.

After the match, the center said that he wasn't even thinking double touch and thank goodness for the comms. It is not something you see every day and it was funny to hear the kids ask us about the call after the game. Coaches and players alike thought we were calling offside and were yelling that you can't be offside on a corner (which they are correct, but we weren't calling that).

In the end, this teaches us two things, even as trail AR when everyone is the other half, you can still pay attention and contribute and comms really did help with a match critical call because if I had seen it without comms, it would have been very tough to convey that to the center referee in a timely manner.