Bekker And Bobby Put CPL Officiating On Blast
UPDATE: Canada Soccer has fined Kyle Bekker for his comments.
Forge’s captain and coach put out some heavy complaints about the quality of officiating in Canada’s domestic top flight.
The three-time CPL champions had travelled out east to face the Halifax Wanderers, dropping the result 2-1 amidst controversial penalty decisions.
“It was a great game of football. There were two teams that had a great first half,” opened Forge captain Kyle Bekker after the match, giving little hint of the tirade that was about to come.
“I think the guys wanted to play, and something that we’ve seen over the last five years which is just shocking… the refs are seemingly getting worse and worse. There’s really nothing much else to talk about: you had two teams who wanted to come out and do something. Unbelievable atmosphere here in Halifax, and it’s another game that is just absolutely ruined because the ref wants to make it about themself.”
“Week-in and week-out we see this, and no one talks about it,” added the midfielder, who evidently does not read Northern Tribune. “It just gets worse. No one holds them accountable. They’ve got a guy at the top who just acts with impunity, he thinks he’s special, comes in to every single team, shakes everyone’s hand, and they just act like they’re bigger than everything else.”
“It’s crazy. You see it week-in and week-out,” Becker emphasized again. “This isn’t just a Forge thing, by the way. This isn’t because they missed the penalty kick [in the Wanderers match], it happens to both sides. It’s calls throughout the game that they blatantly miss, and then there’s make-up calls every single time. They make it about themselves. They hand out bench yellow cards left and right, for what? What is the point?”
The club’s loss in Halifax saw yellow cards handed out to both benches through Bobby Smyrniotis and Jorden Feliciano respectively, who had both received yellows in their last matchup, too.
Officials have handed 19 cards to coaching staff throughout the season, with all eight clubs having been on the receiving end of cautions towards the bench.
“It’s crazy. As a player, you’re just sick of it: you have two teams who have literally every single call come in and it’s like, ‘well, missed that one, how is that happening?’. It’s terrible.”
The criticisms didn’t stop when head coach Bobby Smyrniotis stepped up for his own interview, stating that this weekend’s match was the second in a row where two penalties were called that, for his money, had no business being called.
“The bottom line is for five years everyone is doing a great job of making sure to move this league forward. This season – and this isn’t a Forge thing, it’s all across the season – some things aren’t moving forward, and it’s not good. We can’t have amateur things going on at the professional level. Bottom line.”
“There’s a lot of other shenanigan’s going on,” he continued, looping focus back to the the match. “Both teams want to win, both teams want to play. Chances are created, things are done, let the teams do the business. Bottom line. Let the teams figure it out.”
Canadian Premier League commissioner Mark Noonan recently mentioned the possibility of a video assistant referee being integrated in the future – most likely in the form of VAR Light – which comes as a more budget-friendly variant for the five-year-old league.
While the Canadian Premier League has provided plenty of professional opportunities for Canada’s own officials, it’s clear that the the league’s players and coaching staff don’t often see eye-to-eye with the crews running the matches.
While it remains to be seen if any significant changes will come for the league’s sixth season, Forge will close out the regular season against Atletico Ottawa to determine their place in the 2023 CPL playoffs.
Header Image Photo Credit: David Chant