USL: Denounce Inefficient Officiating and Protect the Integrity of the Game

USL: Denounce Inefficient Officiating and Protect the Integrity of the Game

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Mad Hat Massive, Elm City Casuals & 19th Regiment Supporters started this petition to Chairman, USL Robert Hoskins and

The USL Championship has an officiating problem, as has been evident all season but never more than in the recent Hartford Athletic vs. New York Red Bull II match where Elton Garcia, the referee of the match, proved himself to be incapable of officiating at this level - there is no other way to put it, and this is only the latest (yet most egregious) example.

From the first whistle to the final, Mr. Garcia’s match was a complete farce, highlighted by a pair of red cards issued to Hartford that completely changed the complexion of the match.  A situation that happens far too often around the league.  

In fact, it led to a supporters group from half-a-country away to “welcome Hartford to the USL”.  This is not the first incident, just the latest in a long history of mismanaged matches.  And we seriously doubt this is the type of welcoming that the USL wants to extend to its newest fans and franchise. Matches like yesterday turn away prospective supporters, they don’t make them feel welcome.

Allow us to be clear - this petition is not about the result of the match.  We are not asking for the result to be nullified or match replayed.  And it’s not about two red cards.  Rather, this petition is spurred by the lack of discipline displayed by the blatantly incompetent official, Elton Garcia, in a match full of poor calls from start to finish. This is a call to action that the league needs to review today’s Hartford Athletic match and denounce the actions of Mr. Garcia, and also work to improve officiating across the board.  We are a professional league, we deserve professional officials.

Again, there were several horrendous calls, but none more so than his decision to issue the second of simultaneous red cards.  That entire sequence was uncalled for and was entirely unjust.  Red cards are a major decision that effect the match they are shown as well as subsequent competitions.  Their effect goes beyond 90 minutes.  Yet questionable red cards were issued in addition to the seemingly endless parade of mystery calls and non-calls.  

The first red was for a tackle, which the USL’s own broadcast deemed to be spectacular defense, which resulted in a red card for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity and a penalty shot.  Should a penalty have been called? Sure. The red card? We don’t see it that way but might be convinced othereuse.  But the subsequent overreaction by the official?  Inexcusable. He lost control.  

The second red card was for alleged contact of a player on an official, which Mr. Garcia claimed to be actions worthy of a sending off. Yet upon further review of the broadcast, the contact was nothing more than a simple brushing by, where the Hartford player was actively looking to avoid contact.  The player was simply moving around other players and the official to communicate, and the referee deemed that worthy of a second sending off.

Elton Garcia, in the estimation of ourselves, the away supporters we met after the game, and supporters around the league voicing their solidarity on social media, is incapable of officiating at the USL-C level.  His actions have proven him to be completely inept and unacceptable.

This type of officiating will do nothing but damage the integrity and reputation of the league and if the USL wants to maintain its growth and respect amongst the American soccer community, it will come forward and denounce such blatant incompetence and take action.

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