• Becks, refs and MLS

      Last night, in his first on field appearance at BMO Field in Toronto, David Beckham left his mark in a way only he can.

      Despite ringing a free kick off the crossbar, it was his comments off the field, on the shabby state of MLS refereeing, that had everyone talking.

      If you haven't seen the video, you can watch it here (captured by the Score's James Sharman) but to quickly summarize:

      MLS refs bad. Me want better.

      Actually, for a guy who has become known for being a bit of a knuckle dragger over the years, Beckham summed up things pretty well.

      To be honest over the last few games Iíve spoken too much about referees Ė they're becoming the stars of the MLS. And thatís obviously not what the teams and clubs want. You want the players to be playing out there. You want it to be fair. I just donít think the consistency is there. I think there is bad calls. And weíve had our majority of bad calls over the last few games. Itís ruining games. Itís ruining our preparation for games. Iíll probably get in trouble but itís gone on too long now. We want that consistency to be there. And we to keep our players on the field.
      He'll probably get hit with a fine. It will be a drop in the bucket compared to what he makes.

      In reality, it doesn't matter how many times the media, blogs and fans rail against the horrid inconsistencies of Terry Vaughn or Boldomero Toledo, the only time the league has any incentive to listen is when its brand ambassadors (David Beckham, Thierry Henry and the like) stand up and embarrass the MLS name. And embarrass it they should. For a league that has aspirations to be 'world class' they've done little to work with the USSF to improve the quality of referees available. Their weekly review process is a joke and rarely, if ever, results in some kind of tangible change.

      The MLS won't ask the USSF directly for certain referees, that lack of impartiality did in certain Italian teams not long ago, but perhaps it's time they started having more in depth discussions about the state of refereeing in their game. One starting point might be to look at the obvious - the impact of Latin-style refereeing on an English-style league.

      That's not discrimination, that's just a simple observation that certain refs don't mesh well with certain leagues. You wouldn't have a 14-year-old girl call a Men's league game - their ability and personality don't match.

      So, why continue to have a reffing style that doesn't mesh with MLS? The short answer is there is a lack of professional referees in North America. The long answer is that MLS and USSF haven't been largely motivated to do anything with their problems. Instead, their approach has been to fine coaches and players into silence, hoping to sweep the problem under the rug.

      But the problem isn't going away and the voices are only growing more apathetic and resigned to refs essentially stealing games. There is a danger there. MLS is a league that is constantly trying to gain the support of new fans by convincing them they're not a Mickey Mouse league any more. If they're seen to just be sweeping the issues aside, instead of confronting them head on, confidence could easily be lost.

      There are not going to be any easy answers when asking what to do about the state of reffing in MLS, but, frankly the league hasn't even started asking the questions.
      Comments 10 Comments
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Fuck the refs in this league. Theyre total shit.
      1. foothockey's Avatar
        foothockey -
        Well written. Agree completely.
      1. bgnewf's Avatar
        bgnewf -
        Ben Rycroft for MLS Commissioner!
      1. StartingEleven's Avatar
        StartingEleven -
        Yes BEN! YES!

        Its been the same argument amongst my circle of (football) mates for some time. I being of Latin American decent know all to well the clash of personalities you write about and you are SPOT ON!

        This league's referees needs to cater to the personality of the league not the other way around. More refs like P.Ward are needed, ones that don't take shit personally and get on with officiating. Too many times in MLS do you see a call being made (or not made) because the ref was so obviously angered or bothered by the player specifically and thus the call is made on that merit not the actual play itself.

        I don't expect things to change, at least not until you get more of the stars in this league standing and saying, WTF!

        Thanks for the forum to vent... phew
      1. GaryJambo's Avatar
        GaryJambo -
        Where did that stat come from recently that showed the stark contrast in number of bookings and ejections in the EPL v. MLS? That said it all, in my view. MLS disciplinary numbers should not be so drastically out of synch with other major leagues.

        MLS refs seem to officiate like all contact is a yellow card. This is of course, ridiculous in the extreme. Football is a contact sport! Not all tackles are fouls, not all fouls are bookings.
      1. kj52's Avatar
        kj52 -
        I don't think there is much argument regarding the state of refereeing in this league. The question is how should the MLS go about improving what is a very embarrassing situation? For instance, what is the present pay scale? Maybe they are getting value for money at present and the referee salaries need to rise. It's obvious that many of the MLS refs are not in the same kind of physical condition that EPL officials have to maintain. Toledo for instance seems to rarely leave the center circle and then only at a slow jog. More information would be useful, it's hard to be intelligently critical when you don't have enough information other than the sad evidence shown on the pitch.
      1. rmacvicar's Avatar
        rmacvicar -
        I agree that overall the officiating in the league is shit. However, I thought Terry Vaughn was well above average last night. The only card in the first half was Beckham's, and in my mind it was deserved, if JDG had of come out of that challenge injured I'm sure TFC fans would have a different take on Beckham's comments. Vaughn was well positioned for all the fouls, and when the cards started flying, to me it was due to players getting tired and sloppy.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        ^ yeah i agree to the above to a certain degree.

        In many ways we have the players who match the level of our officials. Rash challenges from behind and studs up are still cards....

        That being said things like that happen 5x then 1x it gets carded. So I can understand the players shock when things are done so inconsistantly.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Refs in MLS may not be very good (though I think they're better than what most people claim) and there have been some horrible calls so far this season - but the LAG TFC game last night is not a good example of bad reffing. If all games were called with the consistency of last night's game, I'd be very happy.

        The argument about finding refs that fit the league is spot on, though.
      1. Blizzard's Avatar
        Blizzard -
        Beckham is probably still steamed over the dive by Charlie Davies of DC United during second half stoppage time of last weeks game vs. the Galaxy. The referee was totally sucked in by minimal contact and an act of simulation by Davies that resulted in a penalty giving DC an undeserved victory.

        Sure, referees are taken in by dives around the world but this case was ridiculous.

        Regarding last night's match, what would we be saying about Terry Vaughn if that early bullet off the bar by Barrett had ended up in the net considering that it followed on the heels of an obvious but uncalled foul on Stevanovic?
      Comments Leave Comment

      Click here to log in

      How many provinces are in Canada?