Tuesday, May 26, 2020


And then the novel coronavirus hit and blew everything to pieces, at least reffing-wise. I want to thank the few organizations that have tried to hold some training sessions for us to keep us thinking of soccer, but I have to admit, I for one, have not really been out running much and have almost felt like stuff is not going to go back to what it was any time soon.

The other day I saw an email from one of the referee supply vendors saying that we needed to all buy an electronic whistle because you won't be able to blow a whistle with a mask on. To which I kinda say, I don't think I will be reffing if I need to have a mask on. At least not in 90 degree weather that is going to be rolling in soon. I have a hard time breathing with the mask on just walking around.

But in all seriousness, let's try to stay safe and somewhat fit if nothing else. Things are starting to ease up, and hopefully we can get out on the pitch soon. I may even start running again as the only running I have done is in Call of Duty Warzone lately.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Instructor Course

Again it has been a long time since my last post. I have been quiet online but in the background dealing with a lot of issues related to recertification. In Virginia, we have a new system that replaces GameOfficials Training which is what we were using for certification and for signing up for classes.

Now we use a system called OMS and to say that the transition has been difficult is a bit of an understatement. My odyssey started back in October when I couldn't register and continued until just recently when I sent my 7th or 8th email on the subject. And I had to pay twice so the state referee association currently owes me $85. Hopefully, they can get that completed soon.

But onto what I wanted to chat about today. I am going to be taking the instructor course soon and one of the things that I need to prepare for is a class presentation where I can cover any referee related topic.

What I was initially thinking of was doing something with video clips of fouls or incidents that happen on the field and what do we think about them. Specifically, fouls and whether we think the clip merits a foul, yellow or red. I have a few clips in mind and it should lead to some discussion.

I was also thinking about possibly talking about the Spirit of the game, that in a way goes beyond the Laws of the Game. But not sure if I have 10 minutes of material for that.

If you have a good clip or two of fouls that can be red or yellow, let me know. Or if you think of anything else that might be better to discuss than that, also post it in the comments. Looking forward to hearing what you might have to say. And hopefully, I can make 2020 a bit more active than 2019 was.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Has been quite a while

I did not realize I had not posted anything since February. Frankly a LOT has happened. But the main reason I did not post anything lately was something that happened in May. It was something catastrophic to my psyche but looking at it now that it is 5 months in the rear view mirror, it is something that can happen to anyone.

It was during a high school match. I thought I was having a fairly good spring high school season. It was the playoffs and it was a decent game. They went to overtime and without going into too much detail lest this somewhat anonymous mirror into the reffing world gets decrypted, I made a huge mistake when it comes to the application of the rules.

So yes, for a while, I was not taking many matches and let the shame wash over me over and over. I replayed the evening in my head thinking how I could have resolved this better. The truth is that I misread the rules of competition and where I thought I was right, I was not and was told that I was an embarrassment to the organization and felt like quitting right then and there.

But in spanish we say "La vida da revancha" which can mean that life gives you a rematch or revenge or something along those lines. A couple of weeks after this low, I was asked to do a match for this adult league where there are a lot of players that were quite good in their prime. A semi-pro league that had many good players, a lot of man management.

We arrive for the matches and the first match is the first semi-final of the league. Great game, 2-2 tie, goes to PKs. Then my match is starting and I see that they are setting up speakers and some sort of commentary booth and I later find out that the match is being streamed live on Facebook and that there are 35,000 people on the stream from all over the world. I won't go again into too much detail of who so as to leave this somewhat anonymous. They had a commentator streaming the game live and talking over the loudspeakers. There were about 200 people in the stands, something I was not expecting and then another several thousand over the internet. And I reffed what I though was one of the best matches of my life. I was everywhere along with my ARs. We worked fantastic as a team, I was able to man-manage situations where any other day, it would have gotten out of control quickly or with someone who reffed to the letter of the law and not to the spirit of the game. And when it was done, another PK shootout (one that I did not botch) and redemption.

To make matters more grandiose, it turns out that one of the players was the brother of a player who starts today for FC Barcelona in Spain. Again, won't say who because then it becomes very googleable but the brother was also a pro player back in the day. And just like that, I was back. After all the doubts, after all my beating myself up, I realized something that I learned the first time I ever did any sort of officiating.

Back before my being a referee, in 1994, I was a tennis umpire and the first time I did anything like that, I did a Davis Cup tie. The Davis Cup would send an impartial umpire that would call the match but would meet with the line judges and I remember this umpire from Cuba like it was yesterday. He said that if there is only one thing that you remember about what we spoke about that day, the first day I dipped my toe into the world of officiating at any level, was that the most important call was the next one. I have to say, that his comment helped me get through the rough time while I pondered whether to continue or not. Yes, the most important call will always be the next one.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Added new link

On the right hand side on the laptop and desktop edition of this blog there are some links I find beneficial, especially those that have new or interesting things for us to pick up. This referee store has a set of yellow and green long sleeve shirts that are either waterproof or for really cold weather. At $65, they are not cheap but perhaps they are what we need for those high school games that are freezing cold.

Anyway, check them out if you haven't. I have always thought that Officialsports.com was the authoritative place to get your ref gear, but they are not the only game in town. Refereestore.com has many things that are not available elsewhere, especially when it comes to gadgets like beeper flags or comm systems. Let me know if you find something out of the ordinary there and happy reffing.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Come on coach

There is a hierarchy with regards to most things in life. In soccer, one would think a coach has a certain level of cache when it comes to things related to the stuff that they are supposed to be the experts on. This weekend, it proved to me that some coaches may be brilliant when it comes to managing the players on the field but gosh darn it, get an idea about the rules, otherwise, you lose all credibility.

Case in point, I am working a college showcase tournament in the local area (by the way, it was cold and 6 layers of clothing was barely enough). In one match, the team in red and blue shirts is clearly dominating the team in white thought it is still a spirited match. Red/Blue is up by 2-3 goals at this point in the first half and we have the first incident where I started to think the Red/Blue coach was not as savvy with his laws interpretations that I would expect a coach of such caliber to be.

This is a DA coach, coaching a team with basically all D1 recruits. One of the players is a national team youth, so they should know the basics. And yes, what happens next is not the basics, per se, but it is not one of those "once in a lifetime" plays either.

I am AR1 and the girls are working their way down my side, white is attacking towards my side and red/blue is defending very close to me in my diagonal. Center is having a fine game, where he needs to be and calling the stuff that needs to be called. White makes a good move on the defender and the defender stumbles and gets tangled with the white player than put the move on her. While there is no foul, the defender sort of falls right next to the ball and attempts to play it from the ground but the ball goes nowhere really and just gets more caught up in her legs.

At this point, white is standing over the defender and possibly winding up to try and poke the ball away, when the Center rightfully blows his whistle and indicates an indirect free kick for white. You probably agree with me that this is something that happens every so often in a soccer match. Perhaps more at the lower levels, but this is something that at least a couple of times a season you will call since you need to protect the defender from getting hurt while players converge for the ball around their body.

The coach looks at me at that moment with an incredulous look on his face. "So what is the call?" he asks. "Dangerous play." I respond. "She should be allowed to get up, I don't understand." he says.

"It is for her own protection, coach. She might get hurt."

"Exactly, that is why it should be a dropped ball."

"No coach, she put herself in that position, chose to try to play the ball instead of trying to get up, so it is an indirect free kick."

"I am not going to attempt to try to argue with you how wrong you both are." and walks away.

Oh boy. A DA coach with years working with youth and you have a quibble over the garden variety putting yourself in a dangerous position? As the infomercials always state "But wait, there's more."

In the second half, Red/Blue is attacking (4-0 at this point) and the midfielder is running with the ball parallel to my line about 10 yards in. As she cuts in towards the penalty arc at the top of the 18, she shoots or attempts to pass and the ball goes off a defender who is a yard or two away. It goes to an attacker in an offside position and I put my flag up for offside.

Again the coach looks at me like "WTF?".

So without giving him too much attention, I say "Deflection off of a defender"

To which he responds "played by a defender".

And I just look at him thinking this man has to be pulling my leg. "The defender did not intentionally try to do that. She had no time to react."

I really couldn't believe it. This is a coach that sends players to the national team supposedly (at least their #10 is a national team player supposedly) and he is giving me grief about this?

To add to that, the day before, I did their center which they also dominated handily but we had another instance of unawareness of how basic things work. At the time, I though nothing of it, but given the exchanges on Sunday, I really have to wonder how much training this coach has when it comes to the laws of the game.

On Saturday, with the Red/Blue team up 3-0 or so, white is attacking down the center. Midfielder cracks a through ball at chest height to a streaking attacker. I see out of the corner of my eye that my AR puts his flag up (way too early as you will soon see). The ball goes about 20 yards and a defender basically knocks the ball down so she can restart play, but that is before I blow my whistle, before the attacker touches the ball, etc. She acted on the AR's flag, which, we all know, is not an actual call on the field and while the player is in an offside position, if the defender, while the ball is making its way down to her, makes a poor but intentional play on the ball, we are going to keep playing and no offside will be called.

So I stop play and call handling instead of offside and the coach wants an explanation, to which I reply "the offside hadn't occurred yet, so the handling came first." Since they were up and there was little chance of a comeback, I didn't get much more out from him, though perhaps he chewed AR1's ear a bit like he did in the match on Sunday.

I really don't quite understand how a coach of that level can go through soccer for the length of the time it takes to get to that level and not understand these calls. Have you all ever had someone similar?

Friday, December 7, 2018

Neptune Clinic

Yes, this happened in August and here I am in late November writing about it but I meant to write about this a long time ago and had my ideas laid out beforehand, but apologies for not getting it out sooner.

It was interesting being part of that Academy. I enjoyed it and recommend people try to get in and get feedback. It was a brutally hot weekend so other than my first match on Saturday where I was the center, all matches had a water break which shorted play even more.

But the match I wanted to focus on was the doozy of a match that I did at 8am on Saturday. It was an over 40 match so I thought it wouldn't be that good of a match. I knew one of the teams somewhat since they play in Northern VA but I wasn't prepared for the onslaught of goals. I guess because the field was relatively small and these guys knew what they were doing, it was a great match.

The game started out tame enough but escalated quickly. We had two quick goals, one from each team and then came one of those match critical plays. Yellow crosses the ball from my right side and as it bounces at the penalty spot, an attacker and defender are jostling for when the ball comes down again. The attacker does a spin move of sorts and the defender does the "sliding pic" or "pick" play that I used to do in basketball growing up and blocks him out but the ball is not there yet and they topple over. PK for yellow and black is angry when I also card the defender.

Later in the game, yellow up 5-2 and we had a moment where had there not been a precedent set by the pros then it would have been a hard sell. Yellow keeper collects the ball on a cross from black. Black is retreating out of the box and yellow keeper distributes the ball to a yellow defender but a black attacker sticks out his foot and collects the ball, passes to a teammate who scores on an empty net. Yellow goes crazy, and all I had to say was that it was exactly what happened in the final between Real Madrid and Liverpool not 2 months ago. Everyone knew what I was talking about and accepted it. Had that not happened, it would have been a harder sell.

In the end, Black pulled out a fantastic comeback to win 6-5 after being down 5-2 with 25 minutes left to play. The feedback I got was that I needed to anticipate more the play instead of reacting and that my substitution procedure was fantastic until the last sub opportunity where we lost track of one and yellow played for a short time with 12.

The rest of the clinic was good. I would certainly do it again if they continue to have it. I also had the center for the final of the open competition, in what looked to be one of the "marquee" matchups. However, the game was over almost before it started. One team was riddled with injuries and the other team jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first 5-6 minutes and then played keepaway. It didn't help that it was so hot that we had to do 2 water breaks per half.

More to come in the next couple of days now that activity for soccer has slowed down a bit (though I have a match on Sunday, where the high is going to be 37, not looking forward to it!).

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Blast from the past

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and I do want to apologize for being negligent on posting. There has been a lot going on and I just haven't really had the time to get everyone caught up with all the stuff going on.

I will want to touch on a couple of topics in the next couple of posts:

- Correcting fellow referees' communications (sock issue)
- Comms used with assessment match (and fight)
- Talked out of a red card scenario (adult match)
- Comms review

All these will be in the next couple of days since the weather is terrible. Tomorrow I have my physical exam and really feel like it is not the best time (I have eaten way too much turkey in the last couple of days) and I will update if anything weird happens.

But for today, I have a bit of a blast from the past. If you look at one of the first posts in 2008, I mention my first center, which was a U9 girls match. In cleaning out some of the stuff in my study/office, I came across this:

This is from that day. I couldn't believe it when I came across it. I still remember a lot from that match. It was hot, the assistant coach of the losing team asking me why I called on of their players offside, and by now, I wonder where a lot of those girls are. Some probably ready to begin playing in college while others stopped playing long ago. What is funny is that this was my actual first center than I can recall, even before doing rec, I did a travel center (albeit a lower level one).

And to think that I haven't done one of these U9 matches in about 4 years. Ever since they added the no-heading rule and build out lines, I find them more complicated and haven't really asked to do any of them. It has been a while and now there is proof of that (10 years, darn that is a long time).