CPL Commissioner Chimes In On Referees
As it tradition in sports, the referees who oversee the action – and whom are often a lightning rod for fan discontent – have become a talking point once more in Canadian Premier League circles.
Speaking on the Wanderer Grounds Podcast, Canadian Premier League commissioner Mark Noonan was asked about the standard of refereeing while out on the east coast, where a sellout stadium of over 6,000 Halifax Wanderers fans voiced their displeasure at referee Yusri Rudolf for two contentious calls that put the Wanderers en route to a loss against Pacific.
The league’s commissioner has already stated that the CPL is willing to experiment, though he hasn’t directly commented on if it could (or would) consider VAR Light, a less costly alternative to the full multi-camera video officiating system utilized in many of Europe’s top flights.
Without the aid of video assistance, referees are limited to their boots-on-the-ground eyeballs, and – much like the athletes they’re officiating – nobody has a perfect game.
“That discussion we’re having about refs right now? Every league in the world in every single sport has this discussion. There literally is not a league, whether it’s the NBA, the NFL, us, the Canadian Football League, or the National Hockey League, that doesn’t have this discussion,” began Noonan on the podcast.
The league commissioner was quick to point out that the league itself, which is just in its fifth season, is a developing league: it has developing players, administrators, media, and referees all in the mix.
“Here’s what I can say about CPL as well as League1: we’ve given around 1,500 opportunities to referees in Canada to develop, and we’re incredibly proud that four of those are representing Canada at Women’s World Cup right now,” added the commissioner.
While a lot of fans point their ire regarding referees towards the league, Noonan was quick to point out that the league neither controls nor disciplines referees: there’s under the purview of Canada Soccer, though he says the CPL works closely with them to help develop – and hold accountable – the referee roster.
“You have to appreciate that they’re developing no different than this sport in this country,” adds Noonan, “and you have to appreciate that they’re putting themselves out there. They’re not going to be perfect, but hopefully we’re gonna get better and better every year.”
“It’s the hardest job, and it’s a thankless job,” he added.
There’s no arguing that. In an era where Canadian soccer is suffering a hefty referee shortage at its grassroots levels due to referee abuse, each opportunity to grow and support the officiating aspect of the game is to be cherished. The bumps on the way will leave a sour taste in many a fan’s mouth, but – as Boris Johnson quipped – them’s the breaks.
While we wait to see how the Canadian Premier League and the referees who officiate it grow, we’d like to recommend this insightful Q&A that Canada Soccer’s referee deartment manager, Isaac Raymond, had with the Wanderers Notebook.