Saturday, 28 April 2018

Football Dark Arts

What are the Dark Arts in soccer? This interesting book is the first-ever collection of 80 negative football tricks, traps and tips that are used by mischievous players, coaches and managers.

Here is the book description, which is found on Amazon websites:

How winners in football really win at football.

Football Dark Arts provides detailed knowledge about crafty, deceitful and outrageous gamesmanship that will help you and your team win matches.

For the first time anywhere, 80 tricks, traps and tips in soccer are collected together and presented in this book. These dark arts help give ultra-competitive managers and street-smart players a competitive edge that prevent their opponents from performing at their optimal level.

Masters of the dark arts know how to bend the rules, to deceive, to con, and ultimately to negatively affect their opponents. This book highlights the ugly, unpleasant and unsporting aspects of “The Beautiful Game”.

Whether you are a player, coach, match official, fan, commentator, journalist, medical doctor or club director, your best option is to read this book and understand the dark arts!

Proceeds from this book will go to the Common Goal fund to support football charities around the world.

If players, coaches and managers are using the Dark Arts to help them beat their opponents, then match officials should also be smart enough to be able to recognise and understand these negative actions. This book is an "eyeopener" into the real world of competitive football. Highly recommended.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Risk of Sports Injury?

At first take, who looks more likely to have a significant injury, or three, during their football career?

Jack Wilshere (right) of Arsenal and Fernandinho of Manchester City battle for the ball

Jack Wilshere is a talented professional player but his record of injuries do not bode well for this future, especially if one looks at his body mechanics (kinesthetics). Wilshere looks awkward, unbalanced and ungainly.

Aesthetics plays a huge part in a professional athlete's long-term performance, sustainability and longevity. Just look at tennis legend Roger Federer, a wonderfully graceful athlete who has avoided major injuries throughout his long career while performing consistently at the highest level.

Let's not forget how Alex Ferguson regards athletes too (plus he is known to have a good eye for choosing winning racehorses).

Writing in his autobiography in 2013, Ferguson painted the scene in the Manchester United boardroom, prior to Jordan Henderson’s £16 million move from Sunderland to Liverpool (reference):
“We looked at Jordan Henderson a lot and Steve Bruce was unfailingly enthusiastic about him. Against that we noticed that Henderson runs from his knees, with a straight back, while the modern footballer runs from his hips. We thought his gait might cause him problems later in his career.”
Jordan Henderson, running style

So, from a refereeing perspective, match officials should also pay attention to their body mechanics, running style and movement. Referees are athletes and can also benefit from understanding and improving themselves aesthetically. 


Arsenal star Jack Wilshere complains about three refereeing decisions from Carabao Cup final loss to Manchester City in a statement: 'These are facts'  (Daily Mail)

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Can a Referee's Name Influence His Appointment?

Ben Toner. Say the name again. Ben Toner.

Some people may hear the term "bent owner". In English slang the meaning of "bent" is to be dishonest. A dishonest owner.

This is not a reflection on the referee himself. Mr Toner merely has an unfortunate name that can be used to imply that a club owner is dishonest or corrupt. Recently, the owners of Blackpool were found guilty in the high court of "illegally stripping" the club of assets, and people have noticed this funny association.

Interestingly, the PGMOL decided to remove Ben Toner from the Blackpool vs Portmouth League One match and replace him with EPL referee Jon Moss. They cited that the reason for this was NOT because of the referee's name at the match, but because the match itself had become higher profile due to the high court's verdict. In the end, the third-tier match had an attendance of 5,032 and very little media coverage.

Perhaps Ben Toner should amend his name to Benjamin Toner or Benny Toner? Would that help?

Take home message: If you are a referee and you also have a funny name, you may need to think about changing your name. Does anyone know any funny referee names?

There is a player in Hong Kong who is called "Linesman". Imagine the reaction of the match officials, when Lineman's teammates call his name!!


Referee Ben Toner loses Blackpool game after Oystons court verdict

Jon Moss takes over at Bloomfield Road due to ‘increased attention’
Ben Toner’s name caused amusement following ruling against Oystons

The referee Ben Toner has been taken off Blackpool’s League One match against Portsmouth, days after the majority owner, the Oystons, were found by a high court judge to have operated an “illegitimate stripping” of the Lancashire club.

Given the findings against the Oystons, Toner’s name had caused some amusement on social media. However the EFL said he had been replaced by a more senior official only because of the “increased scrutiny” on the match at Blackpool.
On Monday Owen Oyston and his son Karl were ordered by Justice Marcus Smith to pay £31m to buy out the minority shareholder Valeri Belokon because of “fundamental breaches” of their duties as directors. Yesterday they put the club up for sale.

After discussions between the EFL and PGMOL, the referees’ association, it was decided Toner should be replaced by Jon Moss, one of the elite Premier League officials. As the body that appoints all match officials it was the PGMOL rather than the EFL which made the choice.

An EFL spokesman said: “As a result of the increased attention surrounding this weekend’s League One fixture between Blackpool and Portsmouth, PGMOL [Professional Game Match Officials Limited] has determined it would be appropriate for a select group 1 referee to take charge of proceedings at Bloomfield Road.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Manchester United Class of 1992 Arrive in Hong Kong

Seen in Hong Kong on the MTR!

Manchester United legends Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Nicky Butt travel by metro to five-a-side in Hong Kong

  • The Manchester United quintet are in Asia for a veterans five-a-side match 
  • They each received t-shirts with caricatures drawn on the front
  • Gary Neville later shared a picture from the tallest bar in the world  
It has been a long time since Paul Scholes, Gary and Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs and Nicky Butt needed public transport to arrive at a match they were playing in.
But out in Hong Kong, the quintet used the metro to head to a veterans five-a-side match.

The Manchester United legends may have called time on their professional playing careers but they still pose quite the threat as a five-a-side combination.

 Phil Neville is in Hong Kong with Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and brother Gary

The players were given a warm welcome from the United supporters in Hong Kong
The five United legends have headed to Hong Kong for a five-a-side veterans match
Phil Neville shared a picture on his Instagram account of the group heading out on their travels, captioning the image 'Road trip with these guys!!!'
And he tweeted the welcome they had, with fans lining up to catch a glimpse of their heroes donning United attire and waving flags. 
And his older brother Gary shared some pictures of t-shirts that they had been presented with, featuring caricatures of each player on the front.
He seemed a little underwhelmed with his own t-shirt, writing 'not nice' alongside the post he uploaded on Instagram.
But overall, he seemed to be very much enjoying his time in Asia. Neville later published a picture of an impressive view from what he said is the 'tallest bar in the world, apparently'.
That venue would be the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong hotel, where the cocktail bar is on the 118th floor and 1,608 feet above sea level. 

Neville also visited 'the tallest bar in the world' - the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong hotel

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

RIP Cheick Tiote

Sad and shocking news about the death of Ivory Coast player Cheick Tiote, who passed away on Monday 5th June at the age of 30 whilst training with his club Beijing Enterprises (Beijing BG FC).

Many tributes and articles have been shared about this popular and friendly man, father, husband, son, colleague and friend.

One example from the Daily Mail wrote:
Supporters could not believe how good the holding midfield player was and he quickly became a fans' favourite, earning the nickname 'Mr T' because of his mohawk hairstyle and no-nonsense approach. Indeed, he was booked 56 times and sent off twice [in 156 appearances for Newcastle]. That, though, was part of his popularity, the cards a byproduct of his commitment. At a club like Newcastle, that counted for a lot among fans.

From a referee's perspective, Tiote was a hard no-holds-bar midfield player but also fair (giving as good as he receives, without complaining). In 2012, Mike Dean chose to talk with the then 25-year-old Newcastle player in the hope that he would listen and avoid a caution or two (see Mike Dean Masterclass Display). Although a thoroughly nice guy off the pitch, on the pitch Tiote was always close to getting cautions with his challenges.

 Mike Dean Talks with Newcastle's Cheick Tiote

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Friendly Matches by FIFA Put Players' Health At Risk

I cringe every time there is a friendly match (like a charity match, a testimonial, or high-profile celebrity kickabout) because the safety of players is usually overlooked. The recent FIFA Legends match is another example of this. Players NEVER wear SHIN GUARDS.

The article below makes a song-and-dance about the availability (or lack) of defibrillators, while overlooking the simple act of not wearing protective shin pads.  FIFA's medical chief may criticise his organisation's lack of available defibrillators but not all stadia or sports clubs are rich enough to afford such specialized equipment. Shin guards, on the other hand (or foot!), are affordable to all players.

Diego Maradona and Co's health 'put at risk' by FIFA during Legends matches at Zurich headquarters

  • FIFA staged Legends match at their headquarters without pitchside defibrillator
  • Council member Michel D'Hooghe was angry at lack of medical equipment
  • Ex-players including Diego Maradona, Carles Puyol and Lucas Radebe took part
FIFA's medical chief has slammed world football's ruling body for staging Legends matches at their own headquarters in Zurich without a pitchside defibrillator.

Belgium's FIFA council member Michel D'Hooghe was visibly angry at the lack of emergency medical equipment on the touchline for the tournament held at FIFA House, especially considering the ages and physical shape of those playing — notably Diego Maradona, 56, once the world's greatest player.

Along with Maradona, the former stars taking part included Spain's Carles Puyol and Michel Salgado, South Africa's Lucas Radebe, Argentina's Gabriel Batistuta and Croatia's Zvonimir Boban, now FIFA deputy secretary general.

They were joined by a number of top football administrators led by FIFA president Gianni Infantino. 
Other suits on the pitch were CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani, Brazil football chief Fernando Sarney, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin and America's Sunil Gulati.
There were two defibrillators, used to revive heart-attack victims, stored nearby in the offices and the gym. 
But D'Hooghe, chairman of FIFA's medical committee, said: 'FIFA are not setting a good example. The equipment should be ready for use beside the pitch, not in the building. The first three minutes are the most important in the event of the heart stopping.
'And this is a dangerous day, with many of the legends and the football officials not being particularly fit. It's high risk.'

Monday, 23 May 2016

Referees are Players at Heart: Mike Riley

Players at heart: Mike Riley’s love of the game keeps him focused on job

Former English Premier League official still relishes the game and hopes to develop the standards of refereeing
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 May, 2016, 1:37am

If there was a referee that might have reason to be angry about the plight of officials in the modern game that might well be Mike Riley.

There is the constant sniping in the media, an excruciating focus on every dubious decision they make, an abundance of new technology leaving them open to even more criticism and a pervasive lack of respect from highly paid players.

There aren’t too many referees who feature in their own nine-minute YouTube video chronicling every tiny error from one particularly criticised performance in the 2004-05 season.

The video, made up of a series of clips from the Manchester United-Arsenal match has amassed well over 350,000 views, and more than 650 comments, the overwhelming majority of which are rabidly critical of him.

And yet, despite this, he maintains it was a love of the game that started him off in refereeing and he still finds joy in doing it today.

“I used to play. Ask any referee and we’re players at heart,” says Riley on the sidelines of the HKFC Soccer Sevens yesterday, where he was delighted to referee children’s and special needs matches.
“If we could be players we would be. Very quickly I realised the limits of my ability as a player and refereeing was the next best thing.”

Riley, the current general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOB), a body which is tasked with monitoring referees and developing excellence in officiating, was an at times divisive figure during his long top-flight refereeing career.

He professes his love for Hong Kong and the Soccer Sevens tournament in particular and has been a regular at Hong Kong Football Club for eight years. In 2007 he oversaw the Hong Kong FA Cup final.

An approachable character, a bruising career has failed to dim his enthusiasm for the game.
Perhaps most notably, he speaks in glowing terms about the respect afforded to officials by players and managers.

“I actually think that the players should be given an awful lot of credit for the way that they conduct themselves. And the relationships between players and referees, and referees and managers is really first class,” said Riley.

Now 51, the mild-mannered Yorkshireman enjoyed a 20-year career in refereeing and worked his way up from being an assistant in the football league, to a Premier League official in 2006, before being granted the vaunted Fifa status to officiate over international matches.

But it is a day in Cardiff back in 2002 that he considers to be the pinnacle of his career.

“As an English referee, you only ever get to referee the FA Cup final one time, so that’s a very special occasion,” said Riley.
“To walk out at the Millennium Stadium with the ball under your arm – it was Arsenal-Chelsea and a fantastic game of football – one of those things that you’ll always remember.”

Upon his retirement in 2009, he replaced Keith Hackett as general manager of the PGMOB, and in that capacity, he’s keen to develop the standards of refereeing, even if it means a greater reliance on technology.

“Referees want decisions to be correct,” said Riley. “The Premier League introduced goal line technology three years ago. Last season, there were around 20 decisions when we used the technology.
“In four or five of those, we’re talking millimetres – did the ball cross the line or did it not – virtually undetectable to the human eye. Now we have the answer.

“Can we extend that? Referees want to enhance the game. We want to get the key decisions right. If you look at the other sports that have harnessed technology it’s benefited match officials. I’m sure it will in football.”

Reference: article in