Did UEFA Fix The Champions League Semifinal?

Sundays are for topless photos of Lakers girls … and for football. So while there’s no football going on over here, there’s always “football” (cough, soccer) going on across the pond, and three days after a miraculous late goal landed Barcelona, not Chelsea, in the Champions League final, more and more evidence keeps popping up that the game’s referee — Norweigan Tom Henning Ovrebo — may have been under orders to do whatever he could to get Barcelona to the final.

uefa.com screen grab

As fully elucidated in THE SPOILER, not only did Ovrebo fail to call up to four clear penalties on Barcelona down the stretch of the game, UEFA also may have unintentionally let the cat out of the bag on its own official web site, posting a match report of the game (think an American game story) claiming a 1-1 draw before it had even been played.

There aren’t any visual screengrabs of the 1-1 report, but there have been multiple correspondents confirming its existince, and the fact that it called for Barcelona to score late to force a tie and advance to the Champions League Final on the competition’s bizarre away goals rule. Making the matter even stickier is the fact that it also said Chelsea stars Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack and Alex would all receive yellow or red cards … and all were in the second half.

Read more…

I Have Seen The Future Of Football, And It Is GPS

In the past decade or so, football has become increasingly (and sometimes absurdly) focused on utter minutiae. Is this player 6′ 4 1/2″ or 6′ 4 5/8″ tall? Did he run a 4.43 or 4.47 40? Did the receiver control the ball before he stepped out? Did the quarterback’s arm start to go forward before he was hit and the ball came loose? And where was the nose of the ball?!

Instant Replay
(Plus you know he’s just watching Family Guy in there.)

And yet at the same time, one of the most important aspects of a play is spotting the ball afterwards, and it’s left completely up to two men standing about 20 yards away. Moreover, the spots are rarely challenged or changed, even when it’s obvious to people with an overhead view (like, say, everyone in the announcer’s booth or watching on TV) that the spot was ludicrously wrong. Usually, all that happens is the play-by-play man deadpans, “lucky spot for the Bears on that one,” half the viewing audience gets upset, and what should be a 3rd and 1 is a gift first down that keeps the drive alive.

But according to NPR, Priya Narasimhan, a professor at Carnegie Mellon, is set to change that. Read more…

Report: Former NBA Ref Bet On Over 100 Games

Tim Donaghy worked games from 1994 to 2007, until an FBI report revealed that he had a gambling problem and was fixing NBA games.

Tim Donaghy gambling graphic

A new report shows that Donaghy may have bet on more than 100 games, including 14 last season. Read more…

School Wouldn’t Use Ref Because She’s A Woman

A religious high school in Kansas wouldn’t use a certain referee for one of their boys’ basketball games - just because she was a woman.

Woman referee Monty Python Holy Grail scene

The KANSAS CITY STAR reports that back on Feb. 2, officials from St. Mary’s Academy told Michelle Campbell right before tip-off that she wouldn’t be working that night. Read more…

NBA Ref’s New Book Blows Whistle On Mob Work

An NBA referee comes out with a new book detailing his past adventures working undercover with the mafia:

Bob Delaney NBA ref book cover

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED chats with Bob Delaney, a 20-year court veteran and former New Jersey state trooper, who writes about his experiences with Tony Sparano…er, Tony Soprano types in “Covert: My Years Infiltrating The Mob.”

The book, targeted for a February release, describes Delaney’s three-year saga as an undercover cop in the 1970s. His dangerous work helped bring in 30 members of the Bruno and Genovese crime families. But it also brought about feelings of guilt for turning in people he became very close to, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

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NFL Fines Ref $8,000 For Getting All Choked Up

The NFL is in a fine mood again. But instead of taking away pay from the players, the league has removed money from a referee’s check:

Jim Quirk NFL referee choke hold Nick Barnett

The WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL reports that official Jim Quirk was fined $8,150 for “inappropriate physical contact with players” during last Sunday’s Green Bay-Chicago game.

Quirk was caught for taking down Packers LB Nick Barnett with a chokehold during a skirmish at Soldier Field. Barnett was set to file a grievance with the NFL, before the league announced its fine on Friday.

And it’s not the first Quirky action by the ref this season. The fine was also for a similar takedown of Atlanta’s Jason Snelling during a December 16 game against Tampa Bay. And back on October 21, Quirk brought down Arizona lineman Elton Brown with the same move.

WWE wrestling chokehold

Maybe Quirk could better serve the NFL if he was out of the stripes and in some pads. Or better yet, he can see if the WWE needs some new talent.

NBA Refs Share A Smooch At Sacramento Game

The SACRAMENTO BEE finds love in the air at Arco Arena - if even for a fleeting mistletoe moment:

Violet Palmer NBA referee Slamson Kings mascot

During Sunday’s Kings-Nuggets game, two NBA referees got caught under the holiday holly, held up by Sacramento’s mangy mascot, Slamson.

Before anyone makes any jokes about “dawn we now our gay apparel,” it was lady ref Violet Palmer who got in the holiday spirit, and planted a big wet one on the lips of whistle-blowing colleague Ron Olesiak.

Charles Barkley Dick Bavetta all-star game kiss

Palmer’s peck probably didn’t match the passion of Charles Barkley’s All-Star pucker-up with Dick Bavetta. But then again, what smooch would?

Texas Tech Coach Mike Leach Not Backing Down From Critical Referee Comments

TECH COACH LEACH NOT SUCKING UP AFTER RIPPING REFS: Mike Leach had some harsh words for the officials after his team’s loss to the Longhorns. And taking Tom Petty’s advice, the Texas Tech coach won’t back down:

Mike Leach Tom Petty

The DALLAS MORNING NEWS reports that Leach is not apologizing for the heated critiques he gave the zebra crew after Saturday’s 59-43 defeat:”I don’t have any regrets. I wouldn’t change anything about what I said.”

Leach went after the striped shirts, saying his team were victims of “atrociously bad calls“, calling the instant review process “a sham” and wondering aloud if Texas got more breaks because they’re “higher bowl-wise“.

Texas Texas Tech football

Mike also muttered about referee Randy Christal, who, like the Longhorns, makes his home in the state captial:”This is the second year in a row that an Austin resident has negatively affected the integrity of the officiating. I think it’s disturbing that Austin residents are involved in this.”

Back in 2005, Texas Tech defeated Oklahoma 23-21, aided by a controversial TD call by line judge Kelly Deterding. Both judge and winning school hail from Lubbock.

When brought up the 2005 situation, and asked if he would ban officials from working hometown games, Leach replied, “My comments on Saturday pretty thoroughly answered that question.”

And Leach is not one for keeping his emotions hidden. After the Texas Tech-Oklahoma State contest, only an upstaging by Mike Gundy kept many folks unaware of Leach’s own post-game tirade.This week’s raging could cost the coach and his college a pretty penny, depending on the Big 12’s decisions. If such outbursts end up costing Leach his job, he can always return to his true love -


UM Player Shawn Crable Bullsh– Badgers Cheated A Little Bit

UM PLAYER: “BULL****” REFEREE “CHEATED A LITTLE BIT“: The Michigan student newspaper gives us a unique recounting of Wisconsin’s (fake) upset over Michigan last Saturday at Camp Randall.

Bucky The Badgers Gets Blown By Michigan Wolverine

Early in the game, Michigan linebacker Shawn Crablehit Wisconsin quarterback Tyler Donovan after Donovan released a pass safety Jamar Adams picked off. The penalty negated the interception and kept the drive alive. Two plays later, the linebacker was flagged again for roughing the quarterback.“Crable had this to say about the penalties: “That was some bull****. They just tried to take the aggression from us right away, but it was cool. They cheated a little bit, but it’s all right.

Shawn Crable

Right on Shawn! It’s not like your previous track record of such behavior would cause referees to be more likely to consider flagging you for tiptoeing on top of opposing quarterbacks.

Navy Losing Streak Against Notre Dame Thanks To Perry Hudspeth

NAVY TRIES TO EXORCISE THE GHOST OF PERRY HUDSPETH: We grew up in a Notre Dame family. Father, brother, cousin (we went to Univ. of Georgia, which we’re quite happy about, actually). But we spent many an autumn as a kid dozing in the ND dorms and watching really bad football (thanks Gerry!).

Notre Dame Navy

So if you’re in the same boat as us, we don’t have to tell you that tomorrow’s game against Navy is BY FAR the biggest game (sadly, not the only) left on the Irish schedule. And that’s for one reason only: The streak. Navy has lost to Notre Dame now 43 consecutive times, with the last Middie win in 1963 as Roger Staubach quarterbacked the ol’ goats to a victory.We can’t communicate the importance of this game any better than it was at GO MIDS, which has a wonderful dissertation on the series, and also names the most hated man in Navy football history: Perry Hudspeth.

Excerpt: “All of my rage would most likely be subsided if it weren’t for Perry Hudspeth. In 1999 Navy was ahead 24-21 with 1:20 left in the game. On 4th and 10 from the Navy 37, Notre Dame quarterback Jarious Jackson completed a 9-yard pass to Bobby Brown. Game over right? Not exactly. Linesman Perry Hudspeth moved the ball forward a half a yard.

Navy Notre Dame Cheerleaders

After a measurement, the very tip of the football was past the outreached chains, Notre Dame first down. A few pays latter, Jackson to Jay Johnson for the 16-yard game-winning touchdown. But the game was over. They were clearly short on 4th down, but never the less, another disappointment, another loss.