Letter to the Editor: Soccer officials capable, qualified

After reading “Intramural Soccer Officials Unprofessional” (March 14) by Greg Allen last week, I, as a professional soccer official, feel compelled to respond. To give my credentials, I have been a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) Official since 1998, with 164 official matches at the U-19 level and higher experience as a center referee and 342 matches as an assistant. I was one of the youngest officials ever to attain USSF’s grade seven badge, shortly after my 18th birthday. For a year, I also held a United States Indoor Soccer League Officials badge, and was one of only three officials in the city of Tucson, Ariz. to have that badge. Finally, I have been a member of Northeastern’s Intramural Soccer staff for two years now (I have to pay off those loans somehow).

Initially, I took offense to the article, as the title claims that somehow, with all my experience and dedication to the beautiful game, I am unprofessional. Then I looked at the article a few more times, and saw a pattern emerge in what Allen was writing.

His first complaint actually has nothing to do with the officiating staff, but rather the system with which intramural sports are administered. I have managed multiple intramural teams over the years, and have myself found some of the processes in which teams are managed to be slightly frustrating. However, his complaint, that the dirty apostrophe which prevented confirmation of his addition to the roster, holds no merit. It clearly states on the intramural roster that teams should not include apostrophe marks in their team names on the very first line. This is not some sort of trick to confuse freshmen, but rather is how the computer database manages characters and records. If his manager had simply read the page and followed the rules, that minor catastrophe could have been avoided. Also, the team would not have needed to forfeit had they not played the ineligible player – a simple fix that would have been following the rules. The lack of professionalism I see here is not on the part of the officials, but rather on the part of the manager and players of his team.

The second complaint is just as simple to deal with. If each manager read the rules, as they are told to do at manager’s meetings, and then passed on the rules to the members of their squad, all players would know and be aware of some of the fundamental differences between the rules in place at Northeastern and the rules which dictate World Cup matches. First, because of the nature of Northeastern’s “pitch,” the safety of the players has been given tantamount importance. Even with our minimal contact rules, I have seen multiple players go down with serious injuries due to contact and the poor playing field, which is our only option for soccer at Northeastern. Officials are trained to mind the safety of players, which includes managing dissent to a level lower than normally tolerated by other leagues.

This brings up Allen’s third dissension, about, well, dissent. As Allen may or may not be aware, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)’s description of dissent under Law 12 states that a player may be cautioned if that player shows dissent by word or action. It is up to the individual leagues to determine how strictly to apply that rule. At NU, we apply that rule as strictly as needed to ensure the safety and security of all present. If games began to get out of hand, or even one violent incident occurred because an official was not professional enough to manage the game, students could lose their privilege to play.

The problem with professionalism is not with the officials, but rather with those who attempt to bend the rules to fit their own desires and then have the audacity to publicly complain about their misgivings.

– Jared Simons is a senior political science major.

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