NEW YORK (Wednesday, January 22, 2003) - This weekend representatives from every MLS club will attend the annual National Referee Certification Seminar in Chandler, Arizona (outside of Phoenix). The 2003 edition of the National Camp marks the first time in the history of the event that MLS team representatives have been invited, with nine head coaches and one general manager scheduled to be present.
The head coach of every MLS team will arrive in Phoenix between Thursday night and Friday morning except for the Colorado Rapids' Tim Hankinson, who will be replaced by General Manager Dan Counce. Hankinson is currently in the midst of a week of observation work with English club Arsenal in London as a guest of Head Coach Arsene Wenger and newly acquired Rapids midfielder Gilles Grimandi, formerly of Arsenal.
"This year's National Camp will offer a unique opportunity to further foster mutual professional respect between MLS clubs and referees," said MLS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis, who will head the MLS delegation at the event. "The fact that every MLS team will be represented in Phoenix is a sign that they value the chance of maintaining an open line of communication with game officials. MLS intends to address issues of player dissent during this offseason and better communication between officials and teams is a first step in this initiative."
Aside from observing the high-level training and tests that the referees are set to undergo, MLS coaches will also partake in panel discussions that will address current issues in refereeing.
"In the American soccer community, the one area where there is little interaction is between the group of coaches and players and the referees - this event is a catalyst for that," said Dallas Burn Head Coach Mike Jeffries. "It's a good opportunity to make inroads and get referees, coaches and players closer to being all on the same page in terms of how we see the game and how we all would like to see the games called. This is a chance for both sides to express their concerns in a non-confrontational setting. It could turn into a positive as we head into next season and it could also save us coaches plenty of fine money."
The National Camp, a four-day clinic beginning Thursday (Jan. 23-26), will see more than 260 national referees and other national referee candidates in attendance, including the entire pool of referees and assistant referees who will officiate in MLS competition during the upcoming 2003 campaign. The camp is an annual requirement for all officials seeking to earn their national badge for the current year.
The weekend gets underway with Opening Ceremonies on Jan. 24, featuring speeches by U.S. Soccer Federation President Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia and Secretary General Dan Flynn. Referees who are members of the International Panel will also be presented with their FIFA badges while those officials selected for professional championship matches will also be recognized. Workshop sessions also begin Friday afternoon and run through Sunday. Fitness and written tests are scheduled to take place on Saturday, Jan. 25.
Among other distinguished speakers at the National Camp will be George Cumming, former FIFA Director of Referees, who is currently a FIFA consultant and will travel from Scotland to make several presentations to U.S. Soccer's National Referees and National Candidates. Also in attendance will be two former National Basketball Association (NBA) referees, Ed Rush and Bob Delaney. Rush, the NBA Director of Officials, and Delaney will make a presentation on teamwork among referees. On Friday afternoon Delaney, who is also a distinguished corporate speaker, will address the subject of leadership. Both Rush and Delaney will travel to National Camp courtesy of the NBA Officials Association.
Courtesy of Major League Soccer.