Ok, I promise this is not going to turn into a soccer blog.
But, let’s look at football, baseball and basketball. We have all seen games in which an official makes an EGREGIOUS mistake. The players know it, the fans know it, the announcers know it. The next day the papers write about it. The bloggers can’t stop wriitng about it. Talk shows go on about it for days.
Yet the league will say nothing. And when the owner complains about it, he gets fined.
From a brand perspective, this is disastrous. By defending the official who made the error, the league is saying one of three things to the fans:
1) We told him to make a bad call.
2) We don’t care when they make bad calls.
3) Heck, we’re lucky the official didn’t make more bad calls.
Now I present you the English Premier League. A mere 30 hours ago, Liverpool played at home vs Chelsea. This is the equivalent of Colts vs Patriots, except imagine every Patriots fan has slept with the wife of every Colts fan, and the Patriots are owned by Osama Bin Laden.
Now, the ref makes a horrible horrible call to basically award Chelsea a game-tying goal, and as American soccer fans know, one goal in soccer is like 21 points in football. So imagine an NFL ref making 3 consecutive calls that award 21 points to the Patriots – and because of it, the game ends in a tie.
Fans here would be in outrage. And the NFL would sit in absolute silence, defending the integrity of the officiating crew. (If you don’t believe me, maybe you want to go back to Seahawks vs Steelers in the 2006 Super Bowl….)
But not here in the EPL. And to bring a sudden conclusion to this ramble, I will simply say that the league has BANISHED the ref for a week and the ref *gasp* admitted he made a mistake – and then apologized! This my friends is what makes the EPL great. The ref screwed up. He admitted it. He got punished. He said he was sorry. Move on to Week 4. I’m imagining Mark Cuban printing out copies of this article and bringing it to every subsequent meeting in which he gets fined.
You want to know how to build a brand – you be honest about it. End of story.
More on this at ESPN SoccerNet.