Many figures in the NASL and fans of its clubs have complained about the quality of the officiating in the league for some time, but it appears to have really struck a nerve with Rowdies Chairman and CEO Bill Edwards after their draw with the Cosmos on Saturday night.
“As Stuart [Campbell, Rowdies head coach] said after the match, the officiating was disgusting. It was the last straw in what I believe to be a season full of inconsistent, incompetent and unprofessional refereeing,” shared Edwards via a post on the club’s website. “And while it’s easy to dismiss it as “just a game,” these bad calls can affect the lives and livelihoods of everyone associated with the club.”
“We have submitted the official NASL Officiating Evaluation Form after every match, pointing out these deficiencies along the way. It seems those reports have been ignored.”
The team also shared a video of several of the calls in question.
Rowdies player Joe Cole added his thoughts on the situation on Saturday evening.
“It was a great game for the fans to watch and we showed a lot of mettle, but I just feel like we’ve been on the wrong side of so many decisions. We don’t seem to be getting any decisions, any breaks, and I don’t know why.”
The Rowdies weren’t the only ones upset.
“We played a difficult team. They proposed difficulties on us. We were able to cover the things and execute the plan and then it can be at the end all of a sudden we get something that it shouldn’t be called and some situations give away a game that we worked so hard for,” said Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese in a postgame interview with TICC. “And we’re tired already of these kinds of situations that have already been repetitive too many times.”
When asked if he thought there was an issue with the quality of refereeing, he put that back on the league.
“I don’t know. That’s for them to decide, to evaluate, but it can’t be that we have similar situations and we’re never able to see the same situation being equal. Tonight it was a tremendous effort by the players and it can’t be that the game finishes the way it finished.”
The quality of officiating has long been a sticking point for many fans in the league. Ask the Dark Clouds about the consistency with which PRO referees have addressed offsides calls or the time Daniel Radford showed up to San Antonio and made it rain cards on a Scorpions-RailHawks match in 2015, a total of 12 yellows and a red, one of the yellows given to a player on the bench.
Ultimately, the refereeing has become its own narrative in this league, with it often playing a part in the final outcome of a match at worst, or a circus sideshow at best.
“They should be proud of the work they did,” said Savarese of the Rowdies. “I think it’s a shame just the way the game ended. I think it’s difficult for our players to be able to swallow that.”