Sunday, September 27, 2009


Note: Make sure you read the first posting in this blog first for full value. Scroll down or click on 'Red Card For Swearing' in the blog archive on the left.

Things went as I had expected (but hoped they wouldn't) at the next game. With three players out to red-cards, no subs, and one of the starting 11 with a wonky ankle, two of our players had to sit out the second half after playing the full first half and pulling muscles.

With yet-another-red-card-for-swearing (this time legitimate, but possibly due to frustration?), we were down to 8 players at the end of the game, which was a 5 - 1 loss.

We're glad this is over, and hopefully we can get back to a normal season, even though our normal season will be starting in the third game. Looking back, I think I really did make my point in the Discipline meeting, and I think they heard it, but couldn't act as they are tied to tradition, and to a BCSA Rule that says there is no review whatsoever of the automatic one-game suspension due to a red card (FIFA doesn't state this, but BCSA extends the FIFA rule). Once a red card is out of the pocket, it's virtually impossible to put it back in.

As it was pointed out to me, almost every attendee to a Disciplinary meeting thinks they are right, and that they have been wronged by the referee or the system, so that when a real valid argument comes up (like mine :-), it gets lost in the ongoing noise of the never-ending cry of wolf.

With any luck, that's probably all there will be on this topic.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Note to the RIC

Note: Make sure you read the first posting in this blog first for full value. Scroll down or click on 'Red Card For Swearing' in the blog archive on the left.

I was told in the Disciplinary hearing, that the next step I could take was to talk to the Referee In Chief(RIC) and/or launch a BCSA appeal at $500 an incident. Here's what went to the RIC.
On Wednesday, I attended the Disciplinary hearing for our three red carded boys. It went as expected. They upheld the one-game suspension.

However, they were not unmoved by my arguments, but said there was nothing they could do about it. They also said that the next place to proceed would be the Referee In Chief and/or a direct appeal to BCSA (at $500 per incident).

As I mentioned to the Disciplinary committee, our team has been together for 5 years and have not had a single red card in that time. To receive 3 red cards in one game is a startling anomaly. There is nothing different or wrong about our team. The system has changed. (In my day job as a Systems Analyst, these are the observations I make on a daily basis)

As Dave mentioned to you previously, our contention is that our referee misconstrued the instructions he was given about the crackdown on bad language. He told us repeatedly that he had no discretion in the matter at the direction of the Referee In Chief.

It is now glaringly obvious that this interpretation was not carried out by other referees. Of the 10 coaches that I have communicated with that had games on Sat Sept 12, none were given the instructions on new rules regarding bad language that we were, and none of the games were subject to them. The list of contacts is below. The Disciplinary committee asked for this list, and it is now on record in the minutes of that meeting.

Of the many people I have since talked to (10 coaches, 2 club presidents, 4 referees, 1 director of college athletics) none can understand the heavy handedness of these decisions.

We are all convinced that this was not your intention. The intention was to cut down on bad language in youth soccer. We completely agree and will be glad to work with you and the league to do this.

However, this must be done in a manner that is not heavy handed and, more importantly in this case, it must be done fairly to all teams in the league at the same time. To apply a heavy handed rule to only one team (or at least one team out of the 10 that I have documented below) is grossly unfair.

Our boys are completely disillusioned by this process. This is not what we want. They see the unfairness.
Their comments after the disciplinary meeting were:
- if the purpose if youth soccer is to get kids playing, this doesn't help.
- I would have been ok with it, if we had been told by our coaches at the start of the practicing for the new season.
- one of the boys, who was a referee himself, but stopped because he didn't like it that parents on the sidelines swore at him, said that the league should concentrate on that first, not stopping 16 year old boys from playing.
- the boys said that the referee must feel bad now, because he's probably found out that no one else did what he did.

You have a chance to make a difference and rescind the suspension for these three players for this weekend. This is unusual, but not unheard of. I read with interest in the newspaper this morning that Eduardo da Silva(of Arsenal) had his two game suspension lifted and went on to have a positive impact in a game he was initially banned from playing (see link below).

You can do the same. Give our team at least a chance to compete this weekend, rather than starting with at least one player short.

Bob Walker
Manager U17 GVW Rush.
Arsenal Fights Back to Win (Eduarda da Silva suspension lifted):

Games on Sept 12, 2009. No reference to new rules regarding swearing.

U17 WVA Strikers vs MAR Oak Park
U15 GVW Griffins vs SQU Clinton Park
U16 KLM Gunners vs PTG Carnarvon Park.

GVW Club U12 and U11 games.

North Vancouver
U14 GVW Rangers vs WVA
U15 GVW Wolves vs MTS

U17 CAU Gazzola vs PTG
U17 WBN Rebels vs CAU

the Disciplinary Hearing

Note: Make sure you read the first posting in this blog first for full value. Scroll down or click on 'Red Card For Swearing' in the blog archive on the left.

The Disciplinary meeting was much more civil than I expected. We have to keep remembering that these people care a lot about soccer too, do a nasty job, and see lots of s*** (oops red-card!).

Actually, during the interview, one of the committee members did swear (I think it might have been 'damn'). I immediately red carded her with a smile on my face.

The boys got the standard one game suspension. That's what I was told to expect. Supposedly if you don't show respect, they can give you more. I gave them a submission (pretty much the comments that are in the first posting) for the minutes.

I also gave them a list of games played that same day, where the referee did not acknowledge or enforce the supposed new rules. They are now part of the minutes as well.

When it came down to it, they said that they couldn't change the ruling, and that if I wanted to, I should pursue it more with the Referee In Chief or launch an appeal to the BCSA (at $500 per incident).

Left it at that and took the boys out for ice cream.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

the crux of the matter

Note: Make sure you read the first posting in this blog first for full value. Scroll down or click on 'Red Card For Swearing' in the blog archive on the left.

This post is about Discretion.

At the start of the season, all referees need to take a refresher course or attend a meeting. Supposedly, one of the topics was 'crackdown on bad language'. Usually this topic, along with many others, is mentioned at the start of every year.

This all seems to be caused by a misinterpretation by at least one of the referees that the 'crackdown on bad language' meant: immediate red card for any bad language on the field and the referee has no discretion.

That last word, 'Discretion', is the crux of the matter. Usually a referee has discretion in most calls he makes. Was the slide tackle aggressive (warning), dangerous (yellow), or reckless (red).

Typically Law 12 (offensive, insulting and abusive language) is applied with a fair bit of discretion.

In this case, the referee claims he was given direction from the Referree-In-Chief that there was to be no referee discretion with regards to Law 12. Any offensive, insulting or abusive language was an immediate red card. The referee did not need to think.

This is probably why no other teams (as far as we know) that weekend were officiated this way, and why our team, which had not had a red card in 5 years of league play, got three in one game.

Red Card For Swearing

On Saturday Sept 12, 2009 the U17 GVW Rush and Wesburn FC played the first game of the 2009-2010 4-districts soccer season.

Prior to the game during his pre-game talk to our team, the referee indicated that the league would be cracking down on bad language on the field and that any kind of swearing would constitute a red card offence. (It seemed at the time, or perhaps we assumed, that he was re-iterating that swearing at the referee or the other team was a red-card offence. Something that we all know).

During the game, three of our players did get excited, swore (to themselves for making bad plays), and were sent off with red cards. At the end of the game we were playing with 8 players on the field.

This was not insulting or abusive language directed at officials or the other team. This was a personal expression of frustration at making a bad play.

The normal procedure to deal with a red card is that the Discipline coordinator for the district reviews the referee's report, and determines whether the player and coach need to appear at a disciplinary hearing. It turns out we do.

In the mean time, I talked to other coaches and referees who were involved in games that weekend. None of the several people I talked to had heard of this new strict interpretation of Law 12 (offensive, insulting, or abusive language), and it was not mentioned at their games and was not a factor in their games.

As far as we can tell, ours was the only game that was officiated with this strict interpretation of Law 12. Our best guess is that our referee misinterpreted the beginning of the year talk about 'keeping a handle on bad language' as a zero-tolerance crack-down with an immediate red card and no discretion to the referee.

This has resulted in a very unfortunate situation: three boys are given red cards, are required to sit out the next game, which means that the team will be short of players. No other team in the league is affected (as far as we know).

The cause of this seems to be a misunderstanding by a referee that resulted in a single game being officiated in a manner that was different from all other games officiated that day, and different from all other games officiated in the 4 districts in the past five years (at least in my experience).

From intitial talks with the Discipline coordinator, who is also the VYSA president, and the Referee-In-Chief, this red cards will stand. We'll see how the Discipline hearing goes....

Not quite “let the kid's play”, is it.