Harris won’t face discipline for ref incident; Breakers’ Billiard, Durkin fined for comments

Jeff Kassouf July 4, 2014 52

Ashlyn Harris won't face discipline for making contact with a ref. (Photo Copyright Erica McCaulley for The Equalizer)

Washington Spirit goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris will not be disciplined for an incident involving referee Dimitar N. Chavdarov in Wednesday’s 3-3 draw with the Boston Breakers.

Harris appeared to push Chavdarov after he stood between her and Breakers forward Jazmine Reeves, but the Professional Referee Organization’s review has led the NWSL to deem the contact “minimal” and thus the league will not take further action against Harris, who was not issued a yellow card.

An NWSL spokesman provided the following statement to The Equalizer on Friday afternoon:

In reviewing the play, the referee comes in between Washington’s Harris and Boston’s Reeves to manage a confrontation and prevent Harris from continuing her progress towards Reeves. As the referee turns away from Harris to manage the approach of Washington’s Krieger towards Reeves, Harris extends her arms to separate herself from the referee. Minimal contact with the referee is apparent from the video evidence available.

Therefore, we do not feel any further action against Harris is warranted.”

Earlier in the day, the NWSL fined Breakers GM Lee Billiard and coach Tom Durkin for comments critical of the referee after Wednesday’s match.

“It was the plan the girls actually came up with to go for it early and we came out with a two-goal lead,” Durkin said after the game. “We gave away a soft goal I thought it was a soft goal and a string of errors and then we went up 3-1 and then the rest is all up to the ref as far as I concerned. I don’t care. They can fine me. They can fine our club, but that was the most suspect officiating.”

Billiard vented on Twitter:

All fines collected by the NWSL are donated to the U.S. Soccer Foundation.

  • Lance Scallop

    What a joke. I guess it’s good for the players to know contacting an official is good to go in the NWSL.

    • Lorehead

      Remember: next time, try that instead of criticizing them.

    • morgs

      Maybe the ref shouldn’t have put his hands on her in the first place. The fact that PRO, which governs the refs (aka the most biased party in all the league to even assess the matter), saw it as not enough to punish, should tell you something. I feel like most people here are incensed and commenting and never saw what actually took place in the first place. But Harris was lucky that the contact made was not more and was not carded on the spot.

    • Pia Knows Best

      What about cocking your arm back as if about to punch the ref in the face? No contact, no foul, no discipline. Sounds good to me.

      • morgs

        That is not even anywhere near the same thing. There is a difference in intent here. One could claim “self defense” in reviewing the video. She pretty clearly (and the refs here seem to agree) that she pushed him off her, not push him period. If the ref didn’t have his arms on her in the first place and she had shoved him off, the PRO review would have undoubtedly gone the other way

    • JAF

      A little dramatic are we!!!!!!!!

  • 09

    I feel some people will ask for a review of this review result.

  • Altius

    This is so backwards…honestly feels like a joke.

  • VW

    Some of you folks need to get over yourselves already. It’s as though you have an agenda.

  • bertiedav

    NWSLOL forever

  • Tylenol

    “The mischaracterization of the Harris incident as a push is part of the problem. Really now, the ref at the time was totally unfazed and did nothing and now the group that has the most stake in refs getting respect thinks it warrants nothing. What more do people want? A few of the soccer twitterverse “experts” think it was a huge deal but they get off on controversy. More people go to their sites and comment. They wasted a lot of words on this already and can now indignantly waste more on the injustice of it all. Short version = ref thought is was nothing at the time, refs organization thinks it is nothing after a review – time to move on.”

    • Tylenol


    • Wear Nikes Drink Gatorade

      Who are you quoting?

  • morgs

    People maybe need to read the article more slowly and digest all the words (tough for some of the peanut gallery I know):

    “the Professional Referee Organization’s review” (aka the referee body) “has led the NWSL” (the actual league) “to deem the contact “minimal” and thus the league will not take further action against Harris, who was not issued a yellow card”.

    Translation: the Refs themselves didn’t see a problem with the incident and told the league as such

    “Harris extends her arms to separate herself from
    the referee. Minimal contact with the referee is apparent from the
    video evidence available.

    Translation: Ref put his hands on her, she separated herself from him. Translation: that does not equal aggressive-confrontational-I’m going to beat your arse- pushing.

    This was the review from the referee organization, not the league. The league made the decision BASED on the referee organization review of the incident. So all the “joke league” meme should probably be “joke Professional Referee Organization” memes, although I suspect there are already millions of those out there.

    • Craigaroo

      Good point trying to make a fine distinction but there’s another fine distinction to be made here. Those are the journalist’s words, not the League’s. Although yes we know the league asked PRO to review it, yes it seems reasonable to assume that PRO advised them that no action was necessary in its view, but there’s still a leap of inference we have to make here. Probably not a very big leap though.

      • morgs

        fair enough. I would think that if PRO had a different conclusion of their review, that the author would have wrote as such.

        • Craigaroo

          My guess is that PRO hasn’t released a public statement but made a private transmittal to the league.

      • D23

        Wait, I thought the comment about Harris extending her arms to seperate herself is the leagues statement not a journalists interpretation. Or are you talking about something else.

        • Craigaroo

          “the Professional Referee Organization’s review has led the NWSL to deem the contact “minimal” ” that’s the part which is the journalist’s report and not from the actual statement by the league. It’s probably nit-picky on my part but there’s a little room for wondering exactly what PRO said.

  • BCAD

    I wish SBFC were playing Portland again. I am just curious as to what the result would be even though Sky Blue seems to have Portland’s Number

  • Guest

    If you live in a tiny fangirl bubble this makes perfect sense. For everyone else and every sport the world over, nope. Not at all.

    • Ace

      Go cry “fangirls” at PRO, not here. The refs who employed the guy being pushed were the ones reviewing this, not “fangirls”.

      • Guest

        I said the ruling makes sense to only fangirls and apparently Beau. This would be a suspension in any other league no question. The fact they dithered on it and had to ask PRO instead of knowing their own player conduct rules is a joke. This wasn’t a PRO issue. It was player conduct which doesn’t require a PRO ruling. As it is they basically said, “Well PRO doesn’t have a problem with it so…it wasn’t like she made as much contact as she intended to…” This is what the DC is for and it was a suspension worthy act. The DC should have ruled on this, not PRO.

        • morgs

          PRO made the review. The league (which we are assuming here is the DC) agreed with that assessment and made the final ruling. The fact that PRO itself, which was the “wronged” party said it was not worth a suspension is telling enough. So that’s both parties agreeing on it not being deserving of a suspension, so clearly, it was not a suspension worthy act. i am pretty sure the conduct rules guidebook doesn’t specifically states that any physical touch towards a referee = instant ban. If it were the case, you would have a point. And I believe that some other leagues in the world have a third party committee mediating these kinds of things.

    • Hey, we can’t have it both ways. We can’t complain about all the refs in the NWSL being male and then call them “fangirls.”

  • Ace

    Did EQ post an article about the whole Huster = Angeli red card thing? I must have missed it. Now THAT is something to cry about.

    • TN

      There was a short article about that, but I thought the whole Wambach elbowing Huster’s chest definitely deserves another look.

      • Guest

        It’s cause she’s a ginger… Duh

        • Joseph

          LOL GOOD ONE

  • Guest

    So for everyone who thought Harris should be suspended, how many games should it be for? I’ve seen lots say one game, but both Sitch and Carli were suspended for 2 games for their fouls. A player putting their hands on a referee has to be a harsher penalty, right?

    • Ace

      obviously. Removing someone arms off yourself is absolutely, unequivocally worse than punching/slapping another player in the face or putting them in a headlock. It’s ok to round house kick other players, kids. Just not the man with the whistle, hmmmm kay?

  • K

    For all of you still crying over the fact that Harris was not punished, please take a remedial reading comprehension course. The ref put himself between Harris and Ree es and made physical contact with Harris. Harris extended her arms in an attempt to remove his hands from her shoulders, not in an aggressive move to push or shove him. The Pro Referee organization saw no need to punish Harris due to her intent to separate herself from the ref, not attack him, therefore the league took their recommendation on the incident. Please stop making Harris out to be some horrible player who attacked a referee, because that was simply not the case.

    • Craigaroo

      Well, some of us are just concerned over the precedent it sets when other refs have to deal with situations. I’m not saying I have the answer. But I’d like to hear from other refs (and I don’t assume they’re completely good with whatever their organization PRO says).

      • K

        Clearly you don’t have the answer and thank goodness the answer wasn’t left up to you and the others who cannot view a match and tell accurately discern between a “get your hands off me” to an attack, as so many of you clearly saw was her intent.
        Have you ever played soccer? Followed other professional leagues, men’s or women’s? Follow much international play, men’s or women’s?
        And it’s a good thing there is a way to allow organizations to question incidences like this. Referees are not always right, and some honestly don’t have the decision making skills to be CRs. Plus, there are professional conduct codes referees have as well as players, and I can tell you most referees would agree that keeping your hands off athletes is the best approach in most circumstances. You would need to talk to the players and coaches to get a better answer to your questions of why he wasn’t good. But it’s clear, that he has had questionable games to those who really know the game of soccer.

  • john

    Isn’t the bottom line that PRO recognized that stating the ref didn’t handle the Harris incident correctly was tantamount to opening the doors wide for critizing all his calls/non calls. One hopes there is an internal in depth review of the officials’ performance. Clearly there were numerous question points in that game.

    • Craigaroo

      I guess the unintended (and unfortunate) consequence of this decision. Many people will see it as some sort of admission that the referee did an overall poor job. My first impression is he did a great job. But if he didn’t, and I’m trying to think of how he didn’t, we have to ask why the video replay seems to suggest he did a great job and got a lot of difficult calls right as well as establishing a standard where reckless play, play that endangered safety, was going to be met with cards.

      • K

        The ref did not do a great job. He did not manage the game well, and while he managed to make a few good calls, he was very inconsistent. His delayed calls stopped the flow of play even when the “offended team” had clear advantage. All three PKs were questionable. Just because a player goes down in the 18, doesn’t make it a PK. And yes, when a referee begins having multiple games that question his ability to do his job, then you seriously consider his on-the-field decision making skills as a professional referee. Having games with a high number of cards does not mean he is managing reckless play.

        • Craigaroo

          You say “inconsistent” but you can’t cite examples. Even the commentators say for most part he was consistent. He was calling the game tightly. You say 3PKs were questionable but that’s just words now. PK1 vindicated by the still photos. PK2 was never seriously questioned by most (although ironically I always had most doubts about that because of camera angle). PK3 sure some question but consistent with way he was calling it and no reason for defender to have her hands around her waist. If PK1 is correct, you have lot of explaining to do because that’s a great call where most refs would swallow whistle. Youre just parroting the words of others and you can’t cite specifics.

  • Craigaroo

    It’s also being discussed on BigSoccer. Here’s the alternative take from a member there:” I understand why the referee did not sanction in this match, but I
    really don’t understand why NWSL didn’t sanction after the fact.

    In context this is like a punch that didn’t land. Just because she misses a full shove of the referee it’s okay?

    We usually say “we can’t tell intent”, well folks, this time we can.
    The referee was focused on diffusing the confrontation and didn’t see
    the GK attempt to shove him from the side/behind.

    Sorry, this time in my opinion shame on the NWSL for not taking a stand in the name of respect for referees and the game.”

    • morgs

      No this context is not correct and I think that Harris, the ref, PRO and the league after video review of the incident, agreed that it is not “like a punch that didn’t land”.
      1) Harris didn’t initiate physical contact out of nowhere (the referee had at least one arm on her and the other hand holding a yellow looked to be on her other shoulder as well so he was pushing her back (and one can say it was his job to do so and he did nothing wrong there)
      2) attempting to land a punch on someone = intent to physically harm – in this case, she was not (although I am sure some of the peanut gallery are convinced that she wanted to) . The fact that people are making punching someone (or even the intent to) the same as shoving someone off yourself is really surprising and a bit scary (I fear for them when in jury duty in actual civil cases)

      • Craigaroo

        Well I think you’re misreading the analogy for your own agenda. People are using it to describe the missing aspect of it and no they aren’t so stupid to think she was trying to hurt the ref. It’s kind of insulting that you assume people are that stupid just because they don’t agree with you.

        • morgs

          My apologies if I am misreading this. I do not have an agenda, frankly I was surprised she didn’t get carded on the spot and that she didn’t get a one game suspension, not because I thought she deserved it, but because I thought PRO/the league would have directly gone with “contact was made on a ref”.
          So do explain what the analogy is supposed to be then? I do not get how a punch (which imo is thrown with a hurtful purpose) = a shove off?

          • Craigaroo

            sorry I got a little snippy. In using the analogy, people are focusing on the “miss” aspect. If you throw a punch and miss, you still did something bad and you should be punished for it. If you try to shove the ref and miss, or he barely notices, you still did something bad and you should be punished for it. I agree with your first instincts and that she should’ve been carded on the spot but lucky for her he was turning quickly to deal with Reeves and Kriegs.

          • morgs

            Fair enough. But I think that the “miss” is only the second aspect of the whole incident though. The first aspect was judiciously (imo) worded by the NWSL

            “Harris extends her arms to separate herself from the referee.”

            That in itself makes it very different from throwing a punch and missing. The intent and purpose of both are very different, which is why, in my opinion, the punching analogy is inappropriate. That is probably much more appropriate to use in the Evans red card situation.

      • Craigaroo

        I quote one person the BigSoccer who favored suspension but there have since been a spate of comments about the referee putting his hands on Harris to keep her away from Reeves. While the poll was evenly split about a day ago, the poll is now running about 2 to 1 against suspension. If most referees don’t think this is a big enough deal to warrant suspension, which is what others here have also argued, then I can be persuaded also that letting this go is the best thing.

  • My2cents

    Clearly the Ref Association would like this one to quietly go away. Just the fact that the ref laid a hand on Harris caused concern. I am sure no action was taken because of that.

  • S

    Late to the game here …but I both agree with PRO and also find it interesting that JK is not nearly as active about this story as the initial report. I mean, I have tried to remain somewhat neutral about the reporting and tried to reflect times in which JK has remained unbiased…but this might be a case where his lack of comments on the ‘positive’ outcome of this situation are overshadowed by his multiple comments about the ‘negative’ side. Let’s try to grow the game, grow unbiased reporting about the NWSL and grow interest in WOSO. As much as this might seem petty at this point ….Harris is not going away…she is well within the mix as a WC back-up….and instead of trying to bury her GK skills in biased reporting ……

    • L

      That’s because JK lets his bias against players cloud his professional journalism. Players he likes, he spins stories in a positive light. Players he doesn’t like, he nitpicks at every shred of negativity he can dig up. He decided immediately following the incident that Harris was some overly aggressive, hotheaded GK that had pure intent to attack the ref. It was clear that he was going to use this to discredit Harris and her skills as one of our top GKs.
      Doesn’t professional and ethical conduct for responsible journalism still exist? Maybe JK should have his media badge revoked for NWSL & USWNT events for a period of time for unprofessional conduct in journalism and social media.

      • Craigaroo

        Jeff is doing fans a great service with Equalizer Soccer. I think it’s all well and good for people to have their own opinions and to disagree with him but I think it’s pretty uncivil to use someone’s own website to slam the host. Guests should remember they are guests.

        • morgs

          Fair enough, but one should also remember that this is one of the biggest woso reporting sites out there, and kudos to JK on this. At the same time, with big power comes big responsibility? Especially concerning media reporting? Pardon my hokeyness. (I know that nowadays, ones would laugh at the notion of unbiased reporting in media in general but..) I have noticed a bit of bias in reporting on here and on twitter as well concerning certain players, and I have wondered whether it is because certain players do attract more comments than others and thus more traffic, or if it’ is because of a personal bias. Not sure, but glad people are noticing.

        • L

          I have been a fan of Woso for a long, long time. I am grateful that journalists, like Jeff, have picked up an interest in the women’s game. However, personal bias or toning an article in negative light to sensationalize the piece, is just wrong, whether it’s a piece on an athlete or any other person who is the subject of an article. Otherwise I think Jeff is a good writer and I think he provides a great media service to the Woso community.h
          And I believe a comments section is there for guests to voice their opinions on the article/journalist. If a guest has an opinion that is negative or contradictory to the piece, does that mean they should not be allowed to voice that?

  • L

    I’m sure JK absolutely hated having to write this article, considering it went completely against his idea of what should have happened to Harris. Just a thought JK, next time try a bit of responsible journalism and leave your bias against a player out. It’s really simple, write the facts and when it comes to your personal dislike of a player, simply open your mouth and insert your foot, or use whatever metaphor you like that translates into journalism.