Another NWSL Referee Crew Suspended

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PRO has announced the suspension of a referee crew after another huge mistake in an NWSL game. Here’s what’s going on in women’s pro soccer.

Pro Statement on Gotham FC vs Angel City FC

In the NWSL game between NJ/NY Gotham FC and Angel City FC, the referee crew incorrectly awarded a corner kick instead of a goal after the ball crossed the line.

With no VAR and no goalline technology in the NWSL, referee crews are going to miss goals. The AR simply can’t run to the goalline faster than the ball. That’s why the big professional leagues use technology.

What’s inexplicable here is that the crew recognized that the ball went over the line but couldn’t figure out if it was inside or outside of the net. Remember, these aren’t the hole-filled nets in your local park. There’s no way for the ball to slip through the side.

Here’s the full statement from PRO.

During the National Women’s Soccer League match between NJ/NY Gotham FC and Angel City FC on August 28, an egregious officiating error was made in the 12th minute when a goal was incorrectly not awarded to NJ/NY Gotham FC after the ball had crossed the goal line between the goal posts.

The match officials misjudged where the ball had crossed the goal line, and wrongly awarded a corner kick to NJ/NY Gotham FC.

The officials involved in this error have been removed from their next PRO assignment(s).

Where do NWSL referees come from?

NWSL has a completely different referee structure than MLS.

PRO is primarily funded by MLS, and that includes full-time salaries for PRO referees. That’s why PRO’s main group of referees mainly does MLS games.

NWSL, on the other hand, pays on a per-game basis, and the league’s lower revenues and budget mean referees are paid comparably less than other leagues, just like the players are. With the small number of teams and wide geographic reach, it’s also difficult for the league to give most referees consistent work.

NWSL referees are:

  • A few lower tier MLS referees that don’t get as many games in that league
  • Referees who are second or third in line to MLS
  • A small handful of referees who primarily work NWSL (and usually also college)
  • Local referees (mainly ARs and fourth officials) who are climbing the professional ladder

NWSL has said for years it wants to improve the standard of its referees. For now, there are only distant rumblings that it might start investing more in its referees.

As for the next round of games, PRO has appointed World Cup referee Armando Villareal to Gotham’s next match. Whether this is a temporary statement or a sign that things are in the works remains to be seen.

Thanks for reading.

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