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Coming Soon to MLS from England: The Thug's Charter
by Paul Gardner, September 24th, 2012 1:43AM

MOST READ
TAGS:  england, mls, referees

MOST COMMENTED

By Paul Gardner

LONDON -- Well, that didn’t take long. A mere three days after Chelsea's young Brazilian Oscar was being lauded to the heavens by the English media for scoring a "wonder goal" against Juventus he finds himself being tarred as a cheat. This because referee Michael Oliver decided he had dived during Saturday’s game against Stoke City and yellow-carded him.

Oscar’s goal against Juventus was a beauty -- unless you were TV critic and former Scottish midfield hard man Graeme Souness, who said it was a fluke, that Oscar simply got lucky. But most of the English media preferred to heap extravagant praise on Oscar and to marvel at the speed with which he had adapted to the supposedly tough, macho, requirements of the English game.

By Saturday evening, the media were presenting a rather different Oscar. Leading the assault on the Brazilian was Stoke City coach Tony Pulis. This was hardly a surprise. Two years ago Pulis demanded that divers should get an automatic three-game suspension. He admits that "Simulation is a real bugbear for me ...” and accused not only Oscar but also Branislav Ivanovic of play-acting to gain penalty kicks. His charge against Ivanovic had some merit, but the Chelsea defender’s tumble was simply ignored by the referee.

Things were different with Oscar. Referee Oliver decided that Oscar, on the receiving end of a challenge from Ryan Shawcross, had dived and gave the yellow card. Suddenly the press was anti-Oscar -- who was accused of “throwing himself down” and of having “collapsed in the box under a challenge from Ryan Shawcross.”

Pulis at once jumped into the fray, and his comment is classic in its quick brushing aside of Oscar’s talent before indicting him on two accounts -- of being a diver, and of being foreign: “Oscar is a super player, but this is England and we can’t watch players fall over and not talk about it ... Forget what Europe is doing, we should highlight it more and certainly crack down on it.”

Once again, the referee got it wrong. Pulis, the anti-diving zealot, of course gleefully went along. But the replays do not agree. There was contact -- Shawcross is a clumsy tackler at best -- but, for what it’s worth, the initial contact seems to be outside the area.

When these cases arise -- which they do almost every week in England -- it is usual to look only at the behavior of the alleged diver. Pulis, it seems, knows all about that: “There are certain players in the Premier League who have got a reputation and referees know that if you touch them then they'll fall down or go down as quickly as they can. The referees know ...” says Pulis. But that can hardly be the case with Oscar, who has only just made his EPL debut. Never mind, Pulis will do what he can to tarnish the image of this “super player.”

Pulis has to know -- and presumably this is what he wants -- that these accusations of players “going down too easily” are sweet music to the ears of defenders. If defenders feel confident that referees are more likely to call diving than a foul, then the referees’ attitude becomes a Thug's Charter, not only permitting, but obviously inviting, reckless play.

Let us, for a change, look at the player making the “tackle” -- in this case Ryan Shawcross. What do, or should, the referees know about him? Quite a lot, as it happens, and none of it good.

In October 2007 his tackle sent Sheffield Wednesday’s Francis Jeffers off the field on a stretcher with severe ankle ligament damage; in 2008 another crude tackle put Arsenal’s Emmanuel Adebayor out for three weeks, and in February 2010 Shawcross inflicted a double fracture of the leg on Aaron Ramsey, putting him out of the game for nine months.

Pulis, the scourge of divers (who have yet, I believe, to break anyone’s leg), finds all of that acceptable. After the brutality against Ramsey, Pulis indignantly asserted that “Shawcross has no malice in him, there’s no way in a million years he’d set out to do that to any player.”

Maybe not, but there is ample evidence to show that Shawcross is a reckless tackler. Surely something that referees should “know” -- and should therefore take into account in their decisions?

Not in England, where hefty tackling is admired. Right at the end of the Chelsea-Stoke game, Pulis had another cause for complaint -- this one more than justified: a violent, two-footed, studs-up tackle by Chelsea’s David Luiz. Referee Oliver gave a yellow card. Pulis said it should have been a red, and he was quite right. Now, if only Pulis could apply similar straight thinking to his own players -- all of whom are part of a team that revels in what might be called forceful play. Then again -- why should he? The EPL referees are clearly on his side, hounding the alleged divers, going easy on thuggish tackles.

For Americans, this is not a theoretical matter. MLS, in its wisdom, has appointed an Englishman, Peter Walton, an ex-EPL referee, as the man in charge of the new Professional Referee Organization (PRO). Walton will thus be in charge of telling American referees how to referee. Shortly, Walton will appoint an assistant -- another Brit import, and another insult to American referees, who are once again told that none of them is good enough for these jobs.

Walton will give us EPL-style refereeing. We shall get the thug's charter approach. Walton, of course, would deny that. He did deny it in a recent interview: “I’m not here to establish English referees ... for me to come here to try to clone people to become English referees is a non-starter ... My idea is to build what’s right for this market.”

No English style refereeing then. Wanna bet? In another recent interview, Walton has already let us know that he favors chatting to players rather than issuing a second yellow card and sending them off. These interviews reveal Walton’s inevitable naivete about American soccer, and underline his umbilical links to England. Having decided that the white spray used by MLS referees to mark out the 10-yard distance at free kicks is not, after all, a gimmick, he promptly calls his buddies in England to tell them all about it. That is the way his thinking goes. So England gets the white spray marker, while the USA gets the thug's charter. Now, there’s progress.



38 comments
  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 8:02 a.m.
    Oscar dove. It was blatant. Ivanovic's dive earlier was even more so.

  1. Bill Ford
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 8:52 a.m.
    @Tom, classic British ignorance and arrogance on all things soccer.

  1. Mario Cesarone
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 9:48 a.m.
    Funny you dont mention the Ivanovic dive in that same game. Furthermore, Liverpool got shafted on another clear dive by Man U player. Not a fan of either team but I enjoy the EPL. While I agree fouls in the box must be punished, they have to put an end to the diving, its disgusting. Watching a game turn on some acting acting makes me shut it off and go do something else. Football needs the same instant replay we see on our home TV sets during games!

  1. Jordan Gardner
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 9:56 a.m.
    Ivanovic, Oscar and Hazard are all cheats. In any sport other than football cheaters get found out and either banned or fined. Now, why do we make an exception in the best sport in the world to accommodate these cheats? Please, tell me that for a start? Tone has got it spot on and I love the fact that my beloved Stoke City do not follow these blatent cheaters and we only have honest professionals in our squad. Now onto the next point, and as an American you will probably miss the point of this but I will say it anyway. Would you prefer to have these cheats in "soccer" or would you prefer to have a good old fashioned English centre half, such as Shawcross, giving it his all for the cause? Granted this sometimes results in injuries, but we are all men, and after all, this is the England and this is the best league in the world. Regards, A Stoke City Rugby Club fan.

  1. S B
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 10:16 a.m.
    Having lived in the U.S. for almost 10 years, I am afraid to say that I have to suffer the likes of ‘Paul Gardners’ on a regular basis. The problem here is that the MLS is neither one thing or another. It attempts to be a professional football league, yet finds itself torn with alignment to typical US sports, and unfortunately fails at being either. The majority of ‘soccer’ fans are uneducated about the game (take Paul Gardner for example), and resort to typical stereotypes or media propaganda. They would prefer to quote random self-fulfilling statistics, irrelevant archived facts, or fun information on ‘active streaks’ then actually try to get a grip on what actually makes the sport the most popular in the world. I think this article should be used as a template or microcosm, of why the MLS will never truly achieve any level of success, and why talking to an American about ‘soccer’ will resort to tedium and eventual suicidal tendencies. Not all are this way, in fact I’ve met a number of people who love the sport and take the time to fall in love with the little quirks and idiosyncrasies that we all cherish. There’s just not many of them I’m afraid. The irony is that most American sports includes cheats. In Baseball we have a long list of steroid injecting superstars, in basketball, we have diving on a level that would suit Oscar and in American Football, we have players suspended for deliberately trying to hurt the opposition (Saints). Which is a little hypocritical considering the comments about Ryan Shawcross. So in a nation where cheating is common place, why would expect Mr. Gardner to actually admit that it’s not a good thing. Well done Paul, you have generated great interest in your article, it’s just a shame it’s for all the wrong reasons.

  1. R2 Dad
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 11:22 a.m.
    Well, THAT certainly raised the hackles of the partisans. You've made valid points, Paul, but dragging Walton into this comes off as anti-Brit. I think last year the FA made a concerted effort to correctly identify, standardize and punish red card challenges, and there weren't any broken legs as a result. I'd like to see them continue this focus, since the unpunished horror-tackle was the real problem, regardless if the player's coach did or did not think his lad was "that type of player". During the era of "reducers", Oscar would have been cut down in his first 3 games--we don't see that any more, as the NHL enforcer a la Roy Keane is no longer tolerated. re: flopping, there are cultural elements to this perspective on contact in the 18. Suarez appeared to just stop running after the incidental contact in the box at Anfield, probably because 7 times out of 10 in his national team matches he'll get that call so he carries it forward in the BPL. In that case the referee made the correct call, which was no call, and play continued. I think cards for diving are a misguided remedy except for the most obvious and extreme cases. A no-call for incidental contact in the box should be the standard going forward, as it will get the message across if consistently applied. re: MLS, we should strive for consistent refereeing that protects skilled players from the grinding-down process of inordinately physical teams, since I'd like to watch attractive soccer. I can watch a kick-and-run hack-fest at the youth level--why follow the MLS if that's all that it wants to be? While MLS doesn't seem to understand the game that well, they DO understand the economics of sports and bad refereeing = bad business.

  1. Mark Hodson
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 11:45 a.m.
    Worst article I had read in a long time....I am assuming you are a volunteer? I am sure that English referee's recent appointments in Champion's League Finals and World Cup finals is indicative of the high level that they have achieved in developing their own professional body over the last 10 years and not because of their leniency in blowing for free kicks. One of the biggest issues in soccer in the US is that many referee's "don't" talk to players and that lack of rapport and mutual respect filters through to the relationship between both parties....or lack thereof! There is one good comparison however.... that they let imbeciles release articles in both the British Press and the US without any clear direction on the subject they are reporting......I'd give you a red card just for being so poor! Get a new job.......Ref maybe?

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 12:13 p.m.
    To Mark Hodson: I don't know what the English referees' recent appointments mean but certainly not their high level. Need I remind you of some of the refereeing horrors in England just in the last year or so? Or Howard Webb ignoring De Jong's kung fu kick in the WC-10 final? Or Stuart Atwell awarding Reading a goal that wasn't against Watford? The list of such horrible refereeing can go on and on.

  1. S B
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 12:20 p.m.
    Football referee's will always make mistakes as they are human (and to be honest, controversy adds to the excitement - at least when it is in favour of your team!). It is that simple. One of the many wonderful things about this sport is that it is constant, and therefore 'real', unlike many sports which stop every 5 minutes for video replays or commercial time-outs. I watched Monday night Football last night, and spent the majority of the game amazed by incorrect decisions by second-rate officials, because the primary referee's are on strike! Incredible!

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 12:40 p.m.
    I wonder how excited were Tottenham supporters last year after Lampard's "goal" against them?

  1. Ramon Creager
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 1:56 p.m.
    It should go without saying that not liking the Brit style does not make one anti-Brit. There clearly are differences in styles in refereeing, depending on the football culture the refereeing comes from, and it is perfectly acceptable to prefer one over another. Spanish referees, for example, tend to be tighter on the physical stuff, so it is more difficult for teams to use physical play to mask lack of talent. The fact that England has struggled internationally says a lot about their style, and how it must change if England is ever to contend for a major international title. It may be that the average Brit fan and referee doesn't see that yet; but team management does. There are some very talented foreigners playing in key playmaking roles, guys like Silva, Mata, Cazorla, Valencia, Oscar, etc. There are very few English players filling these key positions; Frank Lampard is one of the few to come to mind. For the good of English football this culture of the "English game" is just going to have to change. MLS would do very well not to emulate this style.

  1. Alberto Mora
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 2:02 p.m.
    The only good thing that England has done for futbol is determing the number of players on the pitch and come out with the initial rules, beyond that they are always controversial,lack of talented players, poor coaching etc. The premier league is what it is thanks to scottish players and foreign talent, England has never been World Cup Champs (1966 was a combination of bribery and violence against key players from other teams)1966 world cup belongs to Germany. They cash in very well in the US because here they have have a sick love for them, not everyone that comes from England knows futbol and that is a fact but will take another century before the US learn all that.

  1. S B
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 2:12 p.m.
    Alberto, your grasp of punctuation, grammar and the English language in general, is secondary only to your extremely bizarre views of football and its history. I was going to take time writing about FIFA, corruption within the game and respond to your idiotic comment about 1966, however, I am unsure if you would understand any of it. I would suggest you have somebody proof-read what you write before publishing anything else.

  1. Emilio AlHaq
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 3:05 p.m.
    Alberto, you are either a four-year old child learning to write or you have severe learning disabilities. I suggest you look a little closer to home if you want to find the beating heart of corruption. In football, as well as in many other walks of life, it emanates from Latin America. On one of your many ridiculous assertions please list the Scottish players that have made “the premier league … what it is.” Please make sure in this list you do not include any Scottish players prior to 1992 when the Premier League was formed.

  1. Mark Hodson
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 3:32 p.m.
    To David Mozeshtam ...It means that they are human! Making mistakes is a part of the game and creates talking points good or bad.....Let's face it the referee who disallowed the US goal in the World Cup did something that no other man in History has been able to do previously....and that's make Soccer front page news. Whether you like the English game or not, the referee's are at the top of the game its simply FACT.....and let's face it...there not likely to go on strike at any given time either....There's not a league in the World were you couldn't create a list of poor decisions, the difference is noone outside most respective countries watches those leagues.....and given by your examples your not shy of watching the English game whenever you can!

  1. Jogo Bonito
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 3:35 p.m.
    Well I have a huge problem with Brits. I love this game and as an American I feel speaking the same language as Great Britain has been to the detriment of game's development here. I'm not proud of my prejudice, but it's there. It's there because of the hundreds of cocksure "blokes" that I have had to listen to yelling at young American players the same "supposedly tough, macho, requirements" they hold so true to their beliefs. I hate feeling this way because I have met many Brits here that understand fully what's right and wrong for the game here and agree with me one hundred percent on this issue. Paul Gardner being one of them. "SB" commented that Paul Gardner is an example of an "uneducated soccer fan" ... Perhaps he needs to read PG's resume. This was an excellent article I felt. It's a legitimate concern that I have had since MLS went out found Brits to do the job that so many Americans can do better.

  1. Emilio AlHaq
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 3:50 p.m.
    Jogo Bonito, you are not speaking the same language as Great Britain, you are speaking the language of Great Britain – albeit a butchered/mutilated version. Gardner makes the same point every second opinion piece (these are not articles). It’s not insightful. It’s not interesting. It’s not new. It’s a freak show that I read because of the comment section.

  1. Jim Romanski
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 4:17 p.m.
    Paul your article was spot on. It’s not that I don’t think diving should go without punishment, but there’s far too much dangerous play and cheating by fouling that has become acceptable especially in the EPL. Diving is getting singled out while far more dangerous stuff has become the norm. Most of the English players that I know and have played with have a similar attitude. They see diving as the ultimate cheat while the occasional slam to the ground is just part of the game “What was I supposed to do…just let him score?” Take 50/50 headball challenges. It’s legal for two players to jostle for what is essentially a loose ball. But a player crosses the line when they jump over into another players space. Yet that is totally acceptable and normal in England. How many times do you see a player jump on top of and over another player and not be called for a foul. We don’t need that kind of play here…soccer doesn’t need it period. I’ve played to game for 40+ years and watched it played by players from just about every country on the planet. Not everybody plays like thugs. Have a look for yourself.

  1. S B
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 4:20 p.m.
    I have checked out Mr. Gardner's resume and he seems to have found his niche indeed. Writing articles and the occasional publication, that’s aids the football illiterate American 'soccer' fan, to slightly understand football a little better. Truly a one-eyed man in the land of the blind. Football is as subjective as it is passionate. A 30 yard shot that screams into the top-corner of the net is no more valuable than a scrambled toe-poke on a muddy goal line. A wonderful, hard and fair sliding challenge will be greeted by the same volume of cheer, as a fabulous individual piece of skill. Yet, in Mr. Gardner’s world, he would see this removed from the sport and happily applaud the more continental approach to the game of blatantly cheating. Yes, Oscar is a wonderful player, but his approach to the game is disgraceful, and it has to be called out and punished. I’m afraid that Mr. Gardner has become something of a broken record. A man towards the end of his career, who simply regurgitates the same daily half-chewed food, to the screaming, adolescent American ‘chicks’ more readily found in National Geographic. I think it’s time to hang up your pen (or keyboard) and allow constructive, well thought out and fresh journalists to replace your weather battered column.

  1. S B
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 4:33 p.m.
    Jim, I am afraid I have a little bad news for you. You have never played football, you seem to have played some bizarre American version of the sport. Just using the words "50/50 headball challenges" (what the hell?) is a perfect example of your lack of knowledge of the game. Football is a physical sport, a contact sport, it is not basketball and the sooner you understand that, the more chance you have of making a sensible comment, on a thread about the game. Teams from all-over the world (Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Spain, Holland and many more) all have players that are very physical. I am sure you focus on Ronaldo, Messi and Xavi, but please do not forget players like Mascherano, Puyol, Kompany, Vierra, Pepe and many others. Not English players, yet players more known for tackling, breaking up play and physicality than their flair (or diving for that matter). It’s easy to point the finger at competitions like the Premier League, as it is by far the biggest and most televised competition in the World. It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon and reference stereotypical comments on the English team and it’s players, as we have failed to live up to expectation for many years. But please, don’t become lazy and ignorant about the game in totality, which is clearly what some of these uneducated comments (and the article in general) clearly are.

  1. Jim Romanski
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 4:46 p.m.
    If you’d played the game you would know what a 50/50 headball challenge is. I know because I’ve been playing the game for a long time. I know quite a bit about physical play and yes it is a contact sport. But I watch quite a bit more than the EPL and there’s most certainly a difference. You should go and look for yourself.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 4:59 p.m.
    S B: how many people come to see Ronaldo, Messi, and Xavi, and how many Mascherano, Puyol, Kompany, et al?

  1. Emilio AlHaq
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 5:41 p.m.
    hahahaha. "Headball." I've heard it all now. This really is a bad joke. Jim, I imagine your coach was called ‘Chip’ and you discussed ‘monster kicks’ and ‘olimpicos’. Do me a favour. S B I pity you for having to tolerate such ignorance on a daily basis (not just on football) but ultimately it was your decision to move to the US and you must take your medicine.

  1. Jim Romanski
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 5:59 p.m.
    Congratulations. With every arrogant jab you make on fairly meaningless differences in jargon you make Paul Gardner's points all the more apt.

  1. Philippe Fontanelli
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 6:11 p.m.
    Mario I agree with you about Man U's dive. Although being a long line of fan of Juve (handed down to me by my father, he also favored Torino of the old days, needless to say I handed down to my young son--who is 13) I enjoy some EPL games. And I wasn't pleased about the ref at all, he failed to call two fouls caused by Man U inside the box. Liverpool played with 10 men meanwhile Man U with 12 (w. the ref). But Alas the game between Man C and Arsenal didn't make me very happy either (I favor Man C. no explanation warranted I hope). But this year due to my son I also favor Tottenham (Dempsey) and Stoke (Cameron, Edu). And SB you are right Paul Gardner lately has been writing some inane articles with futile subjects. It is a shame because I remember his great articles/comments of yesteryear when he was a writer with "World Soccer" and on occasions even in "France Football".

  1. Emilio AlHaq
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 6:16 p.m.
    Jim, you seem very protective over Gardner and his column. As I said previously his opinions are trivial and meaningless. You need to understand that and start reading Marcotti, Vickery, Conn, Panja and Winter – some real journalists. Football is a minority sport in the US. You are to the wider US society what the weird kids who played American football at my university are to British society. I understand that.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 6:33 p.m.
    Emilio, I'm almost curious to find out what makes you such an arrogant snob.

  1. Jack vrankovic
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 7:25 p.m.
    Shawcross is a proven legbreaker. IMHO the Bundesliga gets it right. It is a physical league that does not have nearly the same amount of stupid stiff legged studs up challenges or diving as the EPL. I have a great deal of respect for the English fathers of the game that I love so much. However, players go to the ground far to often and recklessly in their leagues. Skilled players know this and either try to avoid having their legs broken (like Ramsey or Eduardo) or they try to sell the foul on a player that is known to be a hack goon. The MLS has become the CHAMPIONSHIPlight. I even see it at the youth level in America. Unless the coach is Hispanic or Dutch/German/Balkan etc. going to the ground is not discouraged even at 4-5year old levels.

  1. Jack vrankovic
    commented on: September 24, 2012 at 9:45 p.m.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJYTTUkaemo Typical EPL challenge that should have been a red card.

  1. Jogo Bonito
    commented on: September 25, 2012 at 12:41 a.m.
    Enough dealing with psuedo intellectual idiots that clearly have a shallow veiw of the game ... I've always felt that its the referee's that have to taken the challenge of keeping soccer beautiful. That's because the coaches, for the most part have failed us. Thanks to the "advancements" in coaching "education" we now have an army of nike and adidas wearing robots that have been brain washed into thinking that they have all the answers. They favor brawn and speed over skill and creativity. So I guess it's up to the refs to save our game. We cannot go on a campaign to punish divers and not address the problem of the reckless challenges.

  1. Ivan Mark Radhakrishnan
    commented on: September 25, 2012 at 4:14 a.m.
    THANK YOU Mr GARDNER! THE UNNECESSARY ‘APPEAL’! • When is Football going to punish those that ‘appeal’ for the Referee to ‘make a decision’ or change his / her mind? • When is Football going to realize – AT HIGH SPEED THE SLIGHTEST CONTACT – AND IT IS A CONTACT SPORT! – can lead to a Player TUMBLING OVER? • When do we KEEP A COUNT of UNNECESSARY ‘APPEALS’ and after a COMBINED 10 between the Teams have been exhausted (without punishment), the 11th AUTOMATICALLY results in a YELLOW CARD? FIFA, UEFA etc REFUSE to make PROPER DECISIONS that will IMPROVE THE GAME and IMPROVE THE MENTALITY of PLAYERS, MANAGERS, SUPPORTERS, SPECTATORS and those, who 24 / 7 / 365 ‘influence’ for ‘good’ and bad the wrong decisions! Oscar probably does not understand 90% of what is being written and said about him and his Club in England. The ‘criticism’ of Players never takes into consideration VERY PERTINENT FACTORS – EXCEPT THOSE ‘EXPRESSED’ OFTEN BY COMPLETELY IGNORANT AND BIASED self-proclaimed ‘experts’.

  1. Ivan Mark Radhakrishnan
    commented on: September 25, 2012 at 4:16 a.m.
    COMPLAINT / Soccer America / The 'presentation' of Soccer Talks Comments does not allow for easy reading and better understanding. Paragraphs increase space but they allow us to break during reading and pick-up where we are. Thank You!

  1. Emilio AlHaq
    commented on: September 25, 2012 at 9:08 a.m.
    @ Jogo Bonito, why is my ‘veiw’ of the game shallow because I don’t agree with people who come from a country that amongst other ideas have proposed to make the goals bigger…the same country that couldn’t bear the thought of a draw after 90 minutes so introduced a penalty shoot-out to find a winner…a country that has produced no players of any note despite a population of around 350 million. Maybe you enjoy watching Rivaldo clutch his face and roll around acting after the ball has hit him in the stomach, or Sergio Busquets peeking through his fingers to see if his acting has resulted in another red card for an opponent that hasn’t touched him or how about Dani Alves going down as if he has been shot for the third time in as many minutes. If the answer is ‘yes’ to all of these points I suggest you carry on watching football from southern Europe and Latin America. However, the majority of the world clearly doesn’t prefer this sideshow. It is the reason why the Premier League is the most popular football league in the world bar none. It is the most watched, it earns the highest broadcasting revenues and its clubs prosper off the back of it. It is the reason this column exists. Personally I couldn’t care less if the MLS folded but if it wants to prosper it could do a lot worse than follow the Premier League’s example both on and off the pitch.

  1. Mark Hodson
    commented on: September 25, 2012 at 12:33 p.m.
    You're right...why should we draft in the British Refs, when we have such a depth of refereeing talent here in the US....I mean just look at the top TV sport in the US, the NFL and how they utilize the tremendous refereeing talent pool....oh wait a minute!

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: September 25, 2012 at 2:28 p.m.
    Emilio, your mom won't let you go outside play by yourself yet, so you're trying to show your childhood here?

  1. Emilio AlHaq
    commented on: September 26, 2012 at 5:21 a.m.
    David, read your latest post again. It makes no sense. I suggest you go and take some English classes and then come back when you can actually communicate in the language. I am also guessing that like Jim, you are another of the ‘soccer’ disciples of ‘Chip/Brad/Chad etc’ from the backwater towns of the US. Both of you probably experienced some form of sexual abuse at these ‘soccer’ institutions…

  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: September 29, 2012 at noon
    I don't want video replay during the game. I do want video replay after the game and fines and suspensions for violent conduct and simulation (the opposite ends of the spectrum).

  1. Paul Roby
    commented on: October 1, 2012 at 9:22 p.m.
    Does anyone criticizing Paul Gardner as an uninformed American realize that he grew up and played soccer in... England?


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CAS confirms Suarez ban, UEFA victimizes Legia Warsaw     
So the four-month ban on Luis Suarez, imposed for his biting of Giorgio Chiellini, will stand. ...
Landon Donovan: The Most Gifted. By far.     
It will not do to elaborate on Landon Donovan. As a soccer player, I mean. Words ...
Churlish Guardiola snubs Porter and exposes problems of MLS All-Star game    
There are some rather important lessons to be learned from this week's MLS All-Star game. As ...
Walton's fantasy referee world: No guesswork, please.     
Michael Bradley has had his say about MLS refereeing. He doesn't think much of it, and ...
KC's Aurelien Collin -- the great escape artist     
Some seven months ago, writing on the day before the 2013 MLS Cup final between Real ...
Cheating and violence win top games -- does FIFA even care?    
One's patience with FIFA begins to run out. By which I mean, of course, my patience.
World Cup final ref gets big call wrong, punishes the victim, neglects concussion dangers    
Of course there were concussion-incidents during the World Cup. Given that there are head-clashes in virtually ...
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