Thursday, September 3, 2009

Finally, some actions taken on bad refereeing

2008 MLS Referee of the Year Jair Marrufo (pictured above with Sr. White), Michael Kennedy (hearing it from Jay Heaps to the left and below there) and the reliably bad Abbey Okulaja (who is so bad I will not stoop to searching the Internet for an image of him)have all been suspended for the rest of the season by the USSF.

Steve Goff in his Soccer Insider blog (link here) reported this was going on. Here's Goff's blog entry from Tuesday:

3 MLS Refs Done for Season

Three veteran referees, including 2008 MLS referee of the year Jair Marrufo, will not be assigned to any more MLS matches this season, the Insider has learned.

Marrufo was removed from the assignment rotation for "poor performances" over the course of the season, according to the U.S. Soccer Federation, which oversees officiating in American leagues. Meantime, Michael Kennedy and Abbey Okulaja have been sidelined for failing midseason fitness tests that involve sprints and long-distance running. Kennedy and Okulaja cannot work in any competitions the rest of the year. Marrufo, a FIFA referee, remains eligible for other events.

According to Insider research, Marrufo has not worked an MLS match since June 24. Okulaja has been out since July 18 and Kennedy since July 25. Kennedy was a finalist for MLS referee of the year in 2006 and '08. Marrufo won last year and was a finalist the year before. Okulaja won in 2004 and was runner-up in '05.

This year Kennedy was the referee in 11 games and the fourth official in four; Okulaja seven in each role; and Marrufo seven as the referee.

Kennedy and Okulaja will not have the opportunity to be tested again until before next season. Marrufo's status as a full-time referee employed by the USSF -- Ricardo Salazar, Baldomero Toledo and Terry Vaughn are the others -- will be evaluated.

Earlier this year, Marrufo was suspended two matches by the USSF for accepting Chicago star Cuauhtemoc Blanco's jersey after a game. In June, he was cited for stopping a game in Houston to administer a water break, and in March he was criticized for allowing play to continue after two D.C. United players suffered head injuries in a collision.

By Steve Goff | September 1, 2009; 8:33 PM ET

Personally, I couldn't be happier. "Water break" Marrufo has been beyond odious this season, while Kennedy and Okulaja were just their normal standards of horrid. My only regret is that Baldomero Toledo (below), he of the phantom goal call against us in Seattle and thus defeinitely off of Mike Chabala's Christmas Card list, was not on that list.

Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a real turnaround. Though I am not holding my breath.


Anonymous said...

abbey okulaja was never suspended he just took some time off because he was injured and because of the fact that people do have lives outside of sports, so please get your facts straight.

Anonymous said...

Hey! Im friends with Jair! He's not a bad guy!