MLS Replacement Ref Speaks to Press
Continuing on from our earlier conversation about referees explaining their decision, I did notice one interesting thing from the second week of the MLS lockout.
After his woeful penalty kick call, MLS replacement ref Alan Kelly had this to say:
“Yeah I saw a challenge from behind from the defender [Olave] on the attacker [Chavez]. And the second question you had in terms of did he [Olave] initiate the contact? Yes he did.
“That’s pretty much it. I don’t mean to be blunt in terms of the questions; that’s the straightforward answers I can give.”
Let’s forget for a moment the fact that he refuses to admit he was clearly wrong (as shown definitively by video replay), and the fact that he sounds like a douche.
He spoke to the media.
Kelly isn’t just any replacement. He’s PRO’s Assistant Training Manager. The fact that he was willing to go in front of the microphones and explain his decision (however poorly) is a watershed moment.
Granted, this fits the norm of American sports. European managers, for instance, would never stop and talk to the press on their way to the changing room at halftime the way that MLS coaches are expected to.
(Can you imagine some hapless reporter shoving a microphone in Jose Mourinho’s face at halftime when he’s getting beaten? Actually … that’s a fantastic idea. Someone should totally do that!)
So, will this be PRO’s new policy, whoever the referee? On one hand, I see the potential issue with it: As I said, Kelly doesn’t come off great.
But, if you give referees some media training and maybe some time between the call and an interview, this could be a good thing. There are positives and negatives on both sides, but giving officials like Kelly – who I must say was getting slammed for that call – a chance to explain what they saw and their thought process … that may be a very good thing.