Sometimes in football, you have to ask yourself if all the hard is worth it and in the majority of cases you would agree that the grief and turbulence you go through supporting your team, whether as a fan, a coach, a player or as an owner, is worth the increased blood pressure and heart rate for the 90 minutes of the beautiful game.
However, on occasion, their are instances of head shakingly incredible decisions made by match officials or governing bodies that leave you in shock and bewilderment at their apparent lack of compassion and knowledge of the game.
Unfortunately in these instances, they seem to believe they have suddenly become god or mute in some cases, feeling the need to go completely against popular and public knowledge of certain laws within the field of play. Their word is law and is increasingly in the face of all others around them, no matter if it is crystal clear they are wrong in their decisions.
Sometimes you don't even have a course of action that can be taken to appeal decisions made by the so called law makers and sometimes, rarely, there appears to be elements of corruption. Happily, these are very few and far between.
Being someone that was born kicking a ball, I have always had football in my blood, playing in Scotland at Junior level for a short time before playing in Northern Ireland, I was born into a country that has passion for the sport. It wasn't something you could learn at school, you either had it or you didn't and sometimes that passion can overflow. It may get called aggression by some parts of Joe Public but it isn't, it's simply a passion for the game and if decisions go your way, you're happy, if they don't, you get upset.
In the USA, football or soccer as it's called there, is a relatively minor sport, taking its place behind US Football, Basketball, Baseball and Ice Hockey.
The passion is clear to see within the fans when supporting their teams and when their national team reaches the World Cup, all their supporters band together, cheering them on to victory and further enhancing the name of the sport in the country and building a reputation of an excellent unit of players that is capable of playing at the highest level.
However, due to the nature of the sporting background of the public in the US, very few are born with the passion for Soccer that you find in most other countries in the world. Sports are played by kids primarily sports that their parents and friends play but soccer is in peoples blood, it's bred into them and only people who play soccer now, will breed soccer into their kids.
Passion in soccer can NOT be taught, period. It's not life and death but the passion on the field is clear to see sometimes, especially in derby matches between two rival teams. Barcelona and Real Madrid, Inter and Milan, Rangers and Celtic, Man Utd and Liverpool, all derbies that can bring the best out in some players but sometimes it also brings out the worst as well.
On my travels in football, playing and reporting, I have seen many things and heard of many others that would set your heart racing, make your hair turn grey or just simply fill you full of joy. Sometimes though, you hear of something that dents your belief that the game will ever be governed properly and the pettiness and jealousy that small minded people have will ruin what should be a relatively simple sport, to make themselves try and look smart and intelligent for their own goals.
Its not rocket science to run soccer teams, and to build a franchise like the Americans have in their respective different tiered leagues, they need teams of leaders to build a reputation that will encourage sponsors and the paying public to take an interest in the sport and build it as a brand.
Many incidents come to my attention which seem to get swept under the carpet in the local and national press, due mainly to the influx of international club match competitions that take place meaning that information lasts about 10 minutes before becoming obsolete.
An incident occurred a couple of weeks ago that I feel that I must comment on within a new and upcoming league in Texas that could do without any small mindedness coming from the people in charge.
The Southern Premier Soccer League (SPSL) is based in southern Texas and sits in the fourth tier of soccer in the US. The league is in its infancy as it still tries to transgress through the teething bumps and trying to complete its first full year intact. It's difficult enough to run a team without trying to set up a new team, sponsorship, stadium and a fan base.
Galveston Pirates formed before the start of the season hoping to play in the NPSL which sadly faltered due to a owner dispute before a ball was kicked in the 2010/11 season and from the ashes, the phoenix of the SPSL was born.
The Pirates team owner, Brendan Keyes, was born in Ireland, plying his trade in the Irish football leagues before moving to the US to play professional soccer before the days of MLS. Brendan has since set up coaching camps in the Galveston area, training and coaching kids and grownups alike, to help grow the love of the sport in the area.
Brendan was born into soccer and there can be no doubting his passion for the game, the type of passion that sometimes may look aggressive to the non passionate and one thing should be made clear, if you are not passionate about the sport or don't have the mentality to understand that others do have passion, you should not be involved. Go find something else to spend your time on, something you are passionate about and leave soccer to the people that care about the sport.
When a referee appears to be unable to control a match, it irks people, most notably the players and coaching staff. This seemed to be the case when local rivals Galveston Pirate met Regals FC on February 12th. The match was anything but boring, eventually ending with two goals apiece but it was the behaviour of the referee and opposition officials at the match that sparked some controversy.
The referee appeared to be turning a blind eye to the manic tackles being made upon the Pirate players. And when players are being deliberately 'attacked' without repercussion by the official in the middle, it only points to two things occurring.
- The referee doesn't know the rules of the game and lacks the passion to react.
- The referee has been asked to turn a blind eye to the antics of one side whilst penalising the other for protesting.
When approached by coach Keyes, the official appeared to send the Pirate coach off the field but failed to produce a card and failed to ask him to leave the stadium but anyway, its a football game, for grown ups, but when the official seems to be blatantly favouring one side over the other, it was no wonder that Brendan Keyes had words to say to the man in the middle.
What wasn't required was the interference of an opposition official, whispering unknown mutterings in the referees ear. Perhaps he was trying to influence the referees report of the incident with Brendan and if this was the case, the person involved really has no business being involved in soccer or any sport for that matter. This is a form of cheating, you see big name players from big name teams doing it week in week out in major leagues throughout the world, trying to get players booked, this is the same thing, leave you petty mindedness at home.
If a manager or coach feels his team is being unfairly treated, he has a right to question the decisions of the ref. If his team is being attacked on the field, he has a right to complain strongly about the refs handling of the incidents but when the opposition officials try to act childishly in response to a coach trying to protect his players, it is just not acceptable. Its like running to the school teacher telling lies about someone, its unacceptable. These people have no place in the involvement in any soccer league in the world.
Brendan Keyes may seem like a fiery character at times but do not mistake fieryness for passion as there is a huge difference between these two emotions and what some in the league believe is acceptable behaviour. Brendan cares about his players, his team and the league, meanwhile some within the SPSL seem to want to crucify the league before its even got off the ground.
The body in charge of the SPSL need to take a long hard look at themselves and ask if they are capable of governing without prejudice. They also need to look at the standard of officials, if they are not up to the job or need proper training, they need to implement this immediately before someone gets more seriously hurt than the cracked and bruised ribs received by Pirate players during the offending match. If the governors and officials have not got the passion for the game or know the rules, they should step down as they have no place in their current position.
Soccer is a way of life, maybe they don't see it like that and if not, get lost, let people run the league that care about the welfare of the players rather than their own petty needs.
This story is developing and moving forward, details of which will be forthcoming.
After a meeting of the committee that form the USASA, it was decided that Galveston Pirate coach Brendan Keyes was not at blame for any incident during the ending of this match and also his teams subsequent move to the HFA. The outcome decided that no fines, penalties or suspensions would be placed upon Brendan Keyes thanks to no acts requiring such.
Although other third parties have claimed that suspensions were handed out to the coach, these allegations have been verified by the relevant Soccer bodies in charge of amateur soccer as being false leaving Brendan Keyes' coaching record clean and penalty free.
Brendan Keyes continues to have a good working relationship with both the USSF & USASA as well as many of the club owners previously associated with the SPSL.