Refs Lockout - MLS Games Go Ahead

Victor Decolongon

Hey! Ref! Suck on my collective bargaining agreement!

Perhaps that doesn't scan quite as well as the original, but then again The Sons of Ben are clearly superior at chants than the Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA) and PRO (Professional Referee’s Organization) are at coming to an agreement.  PRO announced today that they have rejected the proposed ‘no strike / no lockout’ agreement, therefore MLS will have to look elsewhere for match officials this opening weekend.  The rejection of the no lockout clause has come as no surprise and MLS/PSRA has been working behind the scenes to ensure that qualified officials will be in place to enable all games to go ahead as scheduled.

The world of match officials in MLS is a complicated business as officially MLS does not oversee their league referees, as many associations in other parts of the world do.  All officials in North America fall under the umbrella of PSRA which is an independent body responsible for all levels of the professional and semi-pro game.  PRO represents officials at the highest level including nine full time professional referees and the US representative for FIFA World Cup matches (your friend and mine, Mr. Mark Geiger).

So called ‘replacement’ refs have all been assigned for the slate of games this weekend and they all have plenty of top flight experience.  These aren't some chumps who have been toiling away in the amateur leagues or NCAA ranks and many have officiated at the World Cup qualifier / Champions League / Europa League level.  It will be very interesting to see if there is a noticeable difference in the quality of the officiating and the concurrent moaning and gnashing of teeth following the games, although at this early stage it is difficult to make a true one versus the other comparison.

What does this mean for the Union?  It means that we will get to see the refereeing talents of 37 year old Ioannis Stavridis who is listed as a member of FIFA Greece now living in the USA.  Mr. Stavridis has refereed a total of 39 games in one season in Greece (23 in the top flight Super League), two international friendlies, and one Europa League Qualifier.  The FIFA page doesn't say but maybe he moved to the US to work for Hallmark because he has a fondness for cards, averaging around six yellows per game, including six occasions where he issued two yellows (and thus a red card) along with six straight reds.

Maybe Mr. Starvidis is following in a long line of Greek refs as surely Plato must have just got off the pitch after refereeing a Senators XI v Pythagorean All Stars when the philosopher posited that "Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws." (Remember that soccer has 'laws' not rules).  Let’s hope that it will be the Timbers who need to be wary of a Greek bearing gifts on Saturday evening.  Come to think of it, maybe that idiot with the chainsaw could have come in handy back in Troy all those years ago.

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