This blog intends to debunk the occasional false statements that American soccer announcers and commentators sometimes say. If you hear something questionable, let me know. I will check it out.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

As usual announcers are uneducated and the last to learn of changes to the football laws of the games. The PK call in the first half of the match between Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders on 8/30/2015 was correct in not including a red card for a denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity. Since Mr. Twellman obviously does not review the laws of the game before speaking as an expert – only speaks as a paid talking head – he would not know that obvious goal scoring opportunities have been recently better defined to include not just proximity between an attacker and the ball, one of four "D"s, but must now also include "keeping or gaining control of the ball" as well as the other three "D"s. This is again another example of miseducation by paid talking dummkopfs.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Professional Futsal League (PFL) Debut Weekend

I watched the debut PFL games in DFW this weekend and, while the play was as exciting as futsal usually is, the commentary was … actually … disappointing.

First the announcers Dan Robertson and Miguel Mariel felt it necessary to explain the rules of futsal because, I'm guessing here, it was ssumed the audience was ignorant of the rules of the game of futsal and, it was assumed, Dan and Miguel would explain the rules to the ignorant listeners. With this assumption, it would have been good if Miguel and Dan reviewed the rules themselves and were able to speak intelligently about the rules of futsal. But they didn't. They spoke poorly. And the sad thing was, all the newcomers to futsal were sponges to their mis-education. My advice to Dan and Miguel is to prepare to speak intelligently by reading the laws of the game, at least once, and trying to learn the correct terms and phrases that define the game in order to speak like an expert that most listeners think you are.

Next time Manuel Mariel plans to color comment on a futsal game, he should review the futsal laws of the game in order to use the correct terminology. IT IS NOT CALLED THE 6TH PENALTY MARK! It's called the 2nd Penalty Mark, which is used upon the 6th accumulated foul and beyond. And there were other explanations that were just plain weak, probably because he didn't understand the rules himself very well. WHEN IN A POSITION OF AUTHORITY, PLEASE KNOW WHAT THE HELL YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT! It's not enough to have just played the game. You need to also know the rules of the games. Duuhh!!!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

It's the 2013 NPSL Season and the Guide to Refereeing NPSL Games has been updated again

The guide and other documents are now available from the Rocket City United website.  Follow link under NPSL Related Documents. See Revision History within the document for what changed.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

It's the 2012 NPSL Season and the "Unofficial Guide to Refereeing NPSL Games" has been updated

Follow link under NPSL Related Documents. See Revision History within the document for what changed.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Arsenal/Liverpool: Offside before Own-Goal?

This blog was created to identify bad commentary by American announcers. But this post is about an announcer of an EPL match. Not my usual target, but here I go anyway.

On August 20th, Arsenal lost to Liverpool 2 to 0. The first goal was an own-goal by Arsenal in the 78th minute. Liverpool's Luis Suarez (#7) was in an offside position when the ball was passed to him by teammate Raul Meireles (#4), but Arsenal's defender Ignasi Miquel (#49) played it first - good defending. The problem for Arsenal occurred immediately afterwards when Miquel attempted to clear the ball but instead the ball bounced off his teammate Aaron Ramsey (#16) and went into the goal. Suarez continued playing since the initial pass to him was intercepted and there was no flag and/or whistle for offside. Also Suarez did not interfere with Miquel when he intercepted the pass. Suarez definitely did not gain an advantage by being in an offside position. So he was not guilty of infringing Law 11, Offside.

In the picture below Meireles (center, in black) just passed the ball to Suarez (lower left, in black). You can see Miquel (lower left, in red & white) clearly playing the ball before it could reach Suarez. At this point, consideration of an offside offence is finished. What follows is normal play.

But during the replays on ESPN immediately following the goal, Ian Darke stated and asked, "He's offside. Isn't he there?" Following the subsequent kickoff, Ian Darke again stated, "Suarez was offside."

Three minutes later during a substitution and more replays of the own-goal by ESPN, Ian Darke continues by saying, "See. His leg is just offside."

These comments do a disservice to the viewers. It is miseducation, which is why I write this blog: to plead with announcers to learn the laws of the game and stop miseducating listeners.

The first problem with this commentary and discussions of offside in general is the dual use of the work offside. It is one thing to be in an "offside position" but it is another thing to commit an "offside offence." Too often the single word offside is used in both cases. The second problem with this commentary comes from the first sentence in Law 11 which states, "It is not an offence in itself to be in an offside position." Since Suarez did not commit an offside offence, he was only in an offside position for a while. Again, it is not an offence in itself to be in an offside position. But Mr. Darke talks on and on about Suarez being offside. YES! He was in an offside position, but that's all!

So Mr. Darke, please re-read Law 11 so you can better understand and comment on rapid match situations related to offside.

I must add that Steve McManaman understood the situation. Near the end of the match referring again back to the own-goal, he said, "Suarez was offside but he was not interfering with play, is he?" and then declares, "That is not offside." To clarify, since he used the word offside for two different things, what McManaman said was "Suarez was (in an) offside (position) but he was not interfering with play, is he? That is not (an) offside (offense)."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The "Unofficial Guide to Refereeing NPSL Games" has been updated TWICE, recently

Follow link under NPSL Related Documents. See Revision History within the document for what changed.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

For NPSL Referees ...

While this blog is usually about game announcers, this entry is about professional soccer league leadership instead. The National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) Director of Officials, David Simmons, wrote a document called the NPSL Referee Procedures Manual in 2003. It contained needed information for referees assigned to work NPSL games. It also contained numerous ambiguities and some redundancies, omitted some important topics, and is not well organized. In fact it is written more like an informal memorandum than a permanent formal document. I repeatedly provide David Simmons with corrections and additions to the manual but very little was changed. Finally I gave up and wrote a replacement for the NPSL Referee Procedures Manual. I named it the “Unofficial Guide to Refereeing NPSL Games” including the term “unofficial” because I wrote it on my own initiative; I was not commissioned by NPSL to write it, although the NPSL Commissioner, Dan Trainor, was aware of my efforts. Regardless, it contains many clarifications of the ambiguities that are in the NPSL Referee Procedures Manual plus additional important information that previously could only be found in the NPSL By-laws –
not conveniently accessible to referees. It is also organized in a more usable manner and adds two appendices on the duties and activities of fourth officials and referee liaisons. The Unofficial Guide to Refereeing NPSL Games is a complete replacement for the NPSL Referee Procedures Manual, except for Addendum B, which lists all of the local NPSL referee assignors across the country (which should be in a separate annual publication and not in a procedures manual).

Follow the links under NPSL Related Documents on the right side of this web page to retrieve a copy of the Unofficial Guide to Refereeing NPSL Games and other NPSL documents. The other documents are standard NPSL documents except the Referee Stat Report, which is an MS Word form that allows one to complete it electronically – not just manually on paper, which is what one must do with the document from NPSL. These documents should be all of the NPSL-specific procedures and forms that you need to prepare for and work NPSL matches. The box score form is not really needed by referees, but is posted here for convenience.

Do trust me. With attention to detail and completeness, I have provided you more of what you need than what David Simmons, NPSL Director of Officials, has provided. Perhaps eventually NPSL will update their documentation, but for now use the documents here.

Who am I? My name is on the front cover of the NPSL Referee Procedures Manual. I wrote
Addendum A of the NPSL Referee Procedures Manual (Appendix A in the Unofficial Guide to Refereeing NPSL Games).

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Foul in USA/Chile International Friendly

Well, loyal readers, Mr. John Harkes is at it again. He is miseducating the American public by his own uneducated comments. This time it happened during the US v Chile International Friendly played at the Home Depot Center, Carson, CA, on 1/22/2011 with Adrian Healey and John Harkes as commentators. In the 74th minute of the match, US player #17, Juan Agudelo, was tripped in the Chilean penalty area. During the replay of the foul, Mr. Harkes said, "Did he get a touch of the ball there Adrian? Oh, referee. Hello! Wait a minute."

Mr. Harkes' appeal to the referee was very crass. He should be embarrassed. His comments about the call for the penalty kick reveals his belief in an old misconception by many soccer players who never really learn the rules. One would think that someone in Mr. Harkes’ position, being paid to comment on games covered by ESPN, would have learned the basics of fouls by now. But obviously not. And this is very sad because most listeners assume he does and believes what he says. This is the miseducation.

Many fouls (tripping, kicking, pushing, etc.) are judged to be fouls by the referee if they were committed in a careless or reckless manner or if committed with excessive force. There is no wording in the laws of the game that says, “unless the player touched the ball” nor “unless the player touched the ball before touching the opponent.” So trips, kicks, etc. that occur after touching the ball if done in a careless or reckless manner or with excessive force are still fouls even if the contact happened after touching the ball. So Mr. Harkes’ questioning of whether or not the opponent also touched the ball is completely irrelevant. Sadly listeners now think it is.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Red Card in Arsenal/Partizan Match

Back on December 8, 2010, there was a match between Arsenal FC and FK Partizan, a Group H match in the Champions League. Eric Wynalda and two others were the commentators on the match that I watched on FSN. The results were Arsenal 3 and Partizan 1. There was one yellow card and one red card in the match. It is the red card that I want to discuss.

Around the 86th minute of the match on a breakaway by Partizan, the Partizan attacker was rapidly approaching Arsenal’s penalty area while being challenged closely by an Arsenal defender running in the same direction as the attacker. Just outside the penalty area with no defenders around but the goalkeeper whose was at the front of his goal area, the Arsenal defender, Bacary Sagna, reached in and across the Partizan attacker in an attempt to play the ball. He tripped the attacker instead. The referee sent off Sagna without hesitation.

One of the commentators, I didn’t get his name but he was blond and had a strong British accent, disagreed with the red card saying it was a bit harsh. This commentator did not agree that the tackle was a sendoff offense. Well Mr. British accent commentator, you might not be an American commentator, but you can make yourself look foolish just the same by making uneducated comments as you did during this match.

The call was exactly right. I recognized it immediately when I saw it. I knew what the referee was going to do and I was pleased to see that he was close behind and made the right call. (I think the referee was from Italy. I saw him again on a Serie A match between Juventus and Lazio. His name is something like Tiliavento.)

Mr. British accent commentator should review the FIFA LOTG and avoid such miseducation of the millions of listeners as he did during this foul and send-off. He is a paid professional. I expect him to know what he’s talking about.

From the FIFA Interpretations of the LOTG and Guidelines for Referees:
Referees should consider the following circumstances when deciding whether to send off a player for denying a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity:
• the distance between the offence and the goal
• the likelihood of keeping or gaining control of the ball
• the direction of the play
• the location and number of defenders
• the offence which denies an opponent an obvious goalscoring opportunity may be an offence that incurs a direct free kick or an indirect free kick

From the USSF Advice to Referees:
In order for a player or substitute to be sent off for denying an "obvious goalscoring opportunity by an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick" (number 5 under the seven send-off offenses), four elements must be present:
• Number of Defenders—not more than one defender between the foul and the goal, not counting the defender who committed the foul
• Distance to goal—the closer the foul is to the goal, the more likely it is an obvious goalscoring opportunity
• Distance to ball—the attacker must have been close enough to the ball at the time of the foul to continue playing the ball
• Direction of play—the attacker must have been moving toward the goal at the time the foul was committed

The foul in the Arsenal/Partizan match meets the above criteria. The attacker was just outside the penalty area running directly toward the goal with no one between him and the goal but the goalkeeper. The closest defender was slightly behind/beside him. The attacker was only a second away from taking a shot when he was tripped. His goal scoring opportunity was taking away. This kind of defending is completely unacceptable and the punishment defined by FIFA reflects the seriousness of the offense, a send-off.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Offside in WC Opener

Two of my soccer buddies told me about a supposedly controversial offside call that denied a goal in the WC opener between Mexico and South Africa. So I had to go back and watch it on ESPN3.com. What a wonderful website. If you have access to it and haven’t taken advantage of it, you’re missing out. So here’s what I found.

In the 39th minute of the match Mexico took a corner kick. As the ball traveled through the air to a spot outside the goal area, the South African ‘keeper moved toward the front of the goal area leaving Carlos Vela standing with only one defender between him and the goal line. The ball was deflected by a Mexican player to Carlos Vela who chest trapped it and then played it into the goal. The Assistant Referee immediately raised his flag for offside.

After several seconds, Efan Ekoku declared, “He’s onside.” He continued, “… with a South African defender right on the goal line. Surely! Well, that can’t be offside. How can he be offside? There is a defender on the line! Couldn’t have given it for handball. It comes clearly off the chest of Vela. What an awful decision. They can’t believe it. They should be one-nil ahead.” After play was restarted, Mr. Ekoku continued, “I don’t know what the Assistant Referee saw. The Referee seems to have blown it himself. You see him signal for maybe a foul. There was a touch at the near post.” Finally, Martin Tyler speaks up with only a few words but showed that he didn’t understand the offside call either.

THIS LEFT MILLIONS OF WATCHERS WITH A FALSE LESSON IN THE OFFSIDE LAW. Watchers believe the highly paid announcers and commentators are also highly education. Obviously not.

Minutes later when a another replay was shown of the corner kick, Mr. Tyler describes the goalkeeper’s movement forward and said that Carlos Vela was denied the World Cup opening goal, as if the referees wrongfully denied the goal. WRONG!!! At the moment the ball was touched by Carlos Vela’s teammate, Vela had only one defender nearer the goal line that himself. Here are the words from the FIFA Laws of the Game, which obviously neither Mr. Ekoku nor Mr. Tyler have ever read and understood:

A player is in an offside position if:
· he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent

I see only one defender closer to the goal line than Carlos Vela. See picture below. How many do you see?

In the upper left portion of the picture above the ball is being head flicked by a Mexican attacker. There were no defenders wide of the goal, only one defender near the goal post. Even the goalkeeper was farther from the goal line than Carlos Vela, #11, near the bottom of the picture. So Vela was in an offside position and subsequently interfered with play by playing it when it came to him. That’s the definition of an offside infraction!

Possibly Mr. Ekoku learned about offside from teammates or coaches and believes offside position is about one defender only since goalkeepers are most often closer to the goal line than everyone else on the field. BUT THAT’S WRONG. Offside is when a player is closer to the goal line than two opponents, regardless of what position they play or whether they wear gloves or not. (There is also the factor of being ahead of the ball and being in the opponents half of the field.)

If you want to read the entire Law 11, Offside, go to http://www.ussoccer.com/Referees/Laws-of-the-Game.aspx

This blog was started to point out the stupid things that American commentators said. But in this case, I just had to write about it. Hope it was helpful.

Here is another description of the valid offside call:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas 2010-04-22

It looks like I spoke too soon. While this seems to have turned into a pick-on-Harkes blog, it is true that after I complemented John Harkes for his professional restraint one game, the very next game he shows his true colors. He and J. P. Dellacamera announced the Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas match on April 22nd. Here’s what I heard.

In the 20th minute of the match during a replay John Harkes said, “Tyrone Marshall. Not sure he did much damage there. I don’t see a lot to deserve the yellow. Terry Vaughn, I think, throwing the yellows out early. Once you do that, as a referee, you have to be consistent throughout the match.” Actually this is arguably a goal scoring opportunity since two defenders are not quite between the attacker and the goal but more even and off to the side of the attacker. Distance to the goal plus the possibility of these nearby defenders being able to become involved in active play must have been the factors that kept the referee from sending off Tyrone Marshall for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity by a committing a foul (DOGSO-F). So if it’s not a DOGSO-F but still reckless then the next level down from a DOGSO-F is a tactical foul, which is a caution for unsporting behavior, a yellow card.

In the 21st minute again during a replay John Harkes said, “That’s a handball from there. Yeah. Not sure if Terry Vaughn had his whistle ready, but it looked like he was to get it. (chuckle) Anyway, play on.” Play continued. There was no announcement by the referee to “Play on! Advantage.”

In the 43rd minute of the match during a replay John Harkes said, “Here’s the late foul from . . . Alonso. And there’s another one right there from Montero from behind. Yeah. Very reckless challenge. Good call by Terry Vaughn.” Mr. Harkes got this one right.

In the 45th minute of the match Mr. Dellacamera used the term Stoppage Time and then, worse than that, ESPN posted “STOPPAGE TIME: 1 MINUTE” below the score on the screen. This is another misnomer. Instead, this is called Added Playing time for lost playing time during the match due to cautions, injuries, substitutions, etc. Perhaps this is a little pedantic of me. But wrong terms are wrong and correct terms are correct. I would like announcers (and now the network) to stop their miseducation by using incorrect terminology. While I’m picking on the network, did you notice after the score by Seattle in the 55th minute, “SEA: OFFSIDE” was posted below the score momentarily? What was that about? Then seconds later the Seattle score was properly increased to 2. Later in the second half, I heard J P Dellacamera correctly use the term “handling” the ball and I heard John Harkes correctly say, “offside” (singular). Thank you!

In the 82nd minute of the match Mr. Harkes said, “I didn’t see the foul there.” If Mr. Harkes had his eyes open he would have seen both the tug on the shorts by Dallas player #17 and afterwards the simulated tug by the referee on his own shorts to tell the players on the field what had happened. This foul occurred in front of the benches, a frequently contested area.

In the 85th minute of the match, Mr. Harkes said, “I’m not really sure what’s going on there, what Terry Vaughn sees.” So, why does Mr. Harkes continue to comment? Mr. Harkes continues, “But he’s given the foul against Seattle but the yellow card to David Ferreira. And, he really . . . it was a dangerous play and Ferreira, he had the ball stuck between his legs while he was on the ground. How’s he supposed to play the ball?” The original foul was a push by Seattle which put the Dallas player on the ground. But the Seattle player continued to try to play the ball while the Seattle player had the ball between his legs. Per the USSF Advice to Referees (available on ussoccer.com) a dangerous play is an act that places someone in danger of harm AND disadvantages the opponent by causing him/her to cease playing. The Seattle player never ceased playing. So the foul was for the original push. The card was for something that happened after the foul. In this case we had to be on the field to see and/or hear what the Dallas player did. Imagine that, if you would, please. We may not understand 100% of the referee’s calls. There is no requirement on referees to communicate to spectators – only to players for the management of the match.

In the 90th minute of the match, Mr. Harkes, talking about the Seattle attacker, said, “Looks like he looses possession, there, on the ball and makes the most of it. Terry Vaughn seems to be, for me, a little bit far away to make that decision. I don’t think it’s a good one.” Terry Vaughn was around the 28 yard line, about 18 yards away, when he made the call for Seattle player #34 (Hurtado) tripped Dallas player #31 (Yeisley). It was visible five times when you count all the replays. The defender’s left knee stopped the attackers left leg, a hard trip. The attacker confirmed it by holding his left leg afterwards on the ground. But Mr. Harkes exemplifies the misconception that sitting announcers off the field can see better than active referees only yards away.

Well that’s all. A lot to point out in one game. So please take this perspective into consideration when trying to understand what American announcers mean by their comments.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Philadelphia Union and Toronto FC 2010-04-15

In the Tax Day MLS match between Philadelphia Union and Toronto FC, I have to say that John Harkes redeemed himself in my eyes by not saying anything uneducated in regard to referee calls. For example, in the 58th minute of the match when a foul was called on a Philly defender for an ugly late trip against an attacker near the touch line, J.P. Dellacamerara questioned what color the card would be, even referencing the possibility of a goal scoring opportunity denied (which is wasn’t!). John Harkes said absolutely nothing. After a few more comments from Mr. Dellacamerara, Mr. Harkes only recounted what happened without adding opinion on the referee’s foul call and subsequent yellow card. (Good for you, Mr. Harkes! Thanks for not saying something stupid.) The only gripe I had about Mr. Harkes in this game was his repeated mispronunciation of Stefan Frei’s first name, the ‘keeper for Toronto. Mr. Harkes, like many Americans unfamiliar with this common European name, pronounced Stefan as Stefaaahn. I don’t get it! No one pronounces Jonathan as Jonathuuuhn. Nor does anyone say Prestuuuuhn. I’m sure Mr. Harkes doesn’t say Stephuuuuhn for Stephen. So why Stefaaahn when it’s pronounced Stef’n? This is just a pet peeve of mine. But on the other hand both Mr. Harkes and Mr. Dellacamerera did use the inaccurate term “handball”, which appears nowhere in the FIFA Laws of the Game. Lots of announcers use this term instead of the correct phrase, “deliberately handling the ball.” I don’t know if I can hope this will ever be corrected.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Chicago Fire vs NY Red Bulls 2010-03-27

Absolutely fabulous game! This was a terrific opener for the new Red Bulls Arena. This blog being a watch on announcers, John Harkes, JP Dellacamerara, and Rob Stome did a great service to us listeners. Or, at least, that's what I think. Did anyone hear differently?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My First Entry

I just started this blog and it’s late for me, so I’m going to post just one note so you can see what this blog is about.

The American Fan needs better commentary. Too often commentary contains incorrect information, based on who-knows-what, but definitely not based on the FIFA Laws of the Game. If the American Fan is going to develop a passion for the game of soccer as is the case in many other countries of the world, they need to understand “the beautiful game.” This blog intends to debunk the bad statements of soccer game commentators.

Let’s begin with John Harkes during the 3/25/2010 Philadelphia Union vs Seattle Sounders FC game. Mr. Harkes stated in the 12th minute of the game after a Philadelphia Union’s player is flagged for offside, “I think he’s even, actually. The referee has the right back. You can see in the far part of the screen there. It looks like he keeps him on.” Mr. Harkes needs to learn that he cannot judge offside from where he is sitting/announcing. Only the assistant referee who is looking straight at the offside line can judge. Mr. Harkes should not make such unsubstantiated comments, which contributes to fans thinking they too can judge offside from their perspectives.

Mr. Harkes stated in the 14th minute of the game that he did not think the foul also deserved a booking. If Mr. Harkes were a trained soccer referee, which obviously he is not, he would understand the booking. But while he is not a trained referee he voices his uneducated opinion on the referee’s choice to caution a player. Fans learn bad information from Mr. Harkes comments.