Referees - what can we all do to improve the situation?

Discussion in 'SoCalScene' started by Paul Spacey, Sep 24, 2018.

  1. Paul Spacey

    Paul Spacey Bronze

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    I noticed there are a number of threads regarding refs and parental/coach behavior recently. Here's another.

    Below is a link to a video clip of a recent game I just saw online. Yes, the ref seems incompetent based on this short clip and the craziness of it just reminded me of what I’ve seen every weekend since the fall season kicked off (I’ve watched or coached around 20 games so far).

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/socalsoccer/permalink/1129930933842712/

    It’s nothing to do with sour grapes or moaning because my team or club lost a game (conversely, you’ll see from our CSL record that we are winning most of our games so far and I think that’s important to point out because often ref complaints come about when people are annoyed about a loss), it’s about addressing an issue which is a problem and feels like it is getting worse every season.

    That could be my personal perspective but based on comments I read and hear regularly from other coaches and parents (and based on games I watch every weekend), it does seem to be the case that refereeing standards (and attitudes, importantly) are certainly not improving, even if at best they are not regressing.

    This isn’t intended to be ref-bashing by the way; I’ve been a ref myself for a long time and try to support them as best I can. I just feel it’s reached a point where I’m struggling to now support the majority of the referees I see on a weekly basis (it’s not all refs but it is many of them unfortunately) because they are having issues with two things which directly influence how games progress and develop (and this affects the safety of players):

    1. The laws of the game and knowing how to interpret them correctly.

    2. Attitude and communication with players and coaches. There is a huge ‘us vs them’ issue (perhaps on both sides) and refs are increasingly rude and dismissive, refusing to communicate at all with either players or coaches.

    The second point might be similar to how people sometimes explain police arrogance and brutality; police have to deal with a lot of sh*t and referees are in a similar position. Often, their decisions are questioned even when correct and so there is naturally probably an element of frustration and lack of patience on many referees’ parts. However, I personally don’t feel this has to be a case of “I know better than you so don’t dare question me” which is how I see and hear many refs reacting to any question, regardless of how the question is voiced.

    At the risk of sounding arrogant, based on the level I officiated both in the UK and here in SoCal, invariably the opposite is true when I ask a question; I usually already know the point of law but I think it is fair to give refs a chance to briefly explain what they saw. Even better, I hope and pray they will do what I did plenty of times as a ref…admit they made a mistake! It’s ok, we all make mistakes. When you make one and cannot admit it, regardless of the situation (refereeing, life, whatever), invariably your refusal to admit an error makes a situation worse. If referee courses and information encouraged budding refs to be honest and admit errors, I can promise from experience that referees’ lives would be easier.

    CSL have introduced a center referee rating system that I’m told will be shared with ref assignors so this might help them assign more games to the more competent refs. With the ref shortage though (there is still a shortage, right?), they can probably only do so much on this front. Does SCDSL have anything similar? I saw Michelle's email saying that they deal with ref issues swiftly but does anyone know exactly what they do?

    Ideas and thoughts anyone? I’m always interested to hear what people’s views are on topics like this and I know this board has a lot of very informed parents and club officials, as well as many respected and knowledgeable referees.

    I think it's fair to say that everyone contributes towards issues getting out of hand; coaches, parents and referees (even players sometimes). If we can come up with any measures or ideas to make the game experience better for our kids, we should put ego's aside and make it happen.
     
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  2. myself

    myself Bronze

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    Parents are the big driver of animosity towards refs, but most parents don't understand the laws of the game and just shout at random. The best thing most parents can do is volunteer as a ref at the rec level, learn the laws of the game, how difficult it can be to make the correct call, and how it feels to be harassed by parents.
     
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  3. Paul Spacey

    Paul Spacey Bronze

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    I agree. Parental education and involvement would make a massive difference.

    That doesn’t address the refs’ attitudes but it’s a good suggestion for an improvement to the situation.
     
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  4. Sheriff Joe

    Sheriff Joe Silver Elite

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    Yes, parents should shut up and referees should speak English, at least know how to say "Where are your cards?" They did know how to ask for their payment, they pointed to the game sheet with the dollar amount on it.
     
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  5. Mystery Train

    Mystery Train Silver Elite

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    This is a good idea. Additionally, ref training could include training on communication and conflict resolution.

    The single most effective tool to avoid conflict in all areas of life is to establish high quality communication first. By "high quality," I mean that it must be clear, it must be understandable, and it must be "real." Every good relationship is founded on common ground first. This is easily and quickly done and I've seen it employed by the better refs.

    It involves saying "Hello" to the parents on the sidelines and introducing yourself to the coaches. It involves things like, "How are you all doing today?" The refs that politely engage in some pre-game banter with the coaches and parents immediately establish a connection where it makes it harder to scream at them later. I've even seen some refs who begin each game by telling the coaches and players, "I'm going to make as many mistakes as you do today, so let's all promise we'll do our very best at our jobs, and we'll all have a great game."

    Obviously, some people are gonna be abusive a-holes no matter what, but a little bit of this goes a long way.
     
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  6. pique2002

    pique2002 Bronze

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    I do feel in youth soccer besides enforcing Laws of the Game, player safety should always come first, everything else should be secondary. If Scdsl feels Discovery league is a privilege to join, please make sure they have the highest standard of referees available by paying a bit higher wages to these qualified referees. They should be able to select a wide range of referee pools if they were willing to do the work and give them extra incentives to be out there. Random monitoring of refereeing and sideline hehavior should give Scdsl an idea what triggers those events. Parking revenue alone should cover the extra wages many times over by forcing all games plays there instead of sticking to parents again with the heat, driving and parking fees.

    As far as the mis-behaving sidelines, coaches and/or players, Scdsl already seem to have rules and regulations in place. Available Security personnel for the safety of the referee if deems necessary after heated games.

    One sided refereeing with players injury with limited recourse or after facts could trigger mis-hehaving sidelines in real time. What would Scdsl higher ups behaves if their offspring were hurt due to repeated refereeing neglicence or incompetence?

    Or on less serious but real life situation that referee basically deciding a tight game with less than obvious inflection, sideline misbehaving could be expected unless referee explain clearly what was his/her decision. Perhaps even a peer review at later date could determine referee’s judgement or ranking to make sure referee are hehaving properly as well, just like parents, coaches and players. Referees do make mistakes, some honest, some not so much, side line behaviors might be the reflection of that.

    Not commenting on last weekend games, just from past experiences.
     
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  7. jpeter

    jpeter Silver

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    The most difficult role in officiating: assisting a poor referee
    https://www.socceramerica.com/publications/article/75956/the-most-difficult-role-in-officiating-assisting.html

    Yes in favor of some sort of rating system like you mentioned
    "CSL have introduced a center referee rating system that I’m told will be shared with ref assignors so this might help them assign more games to the more competent refs"

    When refereeing becomes a paid service, the consumers have expectations and they tend to expect a certain level of quality.

    One of the big complaints I've heard is the perceived lack of accountability, for parents & paying customers they don't have any visibility on how refs are assigned, reviewed or rated at all basically.

    Might not work for officiating but giving the Uber model where both driver's and customers are rated and you can choose your services or not based on those numbers something like that for the educated customer might work but of course they would have to be competent in the laws first, passing a quiz might knock out half the intial bunch but at least that would force them to learn before a rating was accepted.


    I would be willing to pay more or less depending on the ratings, heck I would even leave a tip for a job well done.

    [​IMG]

     
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  8. Grace T.

    Grace T. Silver

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    Having been through the USSF and AYSO refs systems now, as a new referee I got to say that the AYSO system is just so much supportive. It's harder to get even your AYSO regional license than it is your level 8 club. AYSO provides (because it can force the parents) ARs even for U10 games (whereas every USSF non-cup game I've seen has only the CR). AYSO provides new referees with mentors to help them advance up in the ranks. And I've found the AYSO refs to be more supportive of me in my learning process. My first year I got discouraged being a USSF ref so I'm liking being able to cut my teeth on some AYSO games, including some Extras ones. Learning a lot. It's neat just hanging out at the AYSO tent and learning from the experienced old timers.

    The downside of USSF providing mentoring, additional training, and ARS at lower levels is that it would raise the cost of club soccer even more (since unlike AYSO they can't force people). But here's where some more cooperation between the 2 organizations could help (many AYSO senior refs, for example, ref high school games during the week). Part of the problem with the referee shortage and retention problems isn't just the parents misbehavior....it's that there isn't sufficient intervention to bring along new referees. The education in some regions is lacking (I'm specifically thinking of the rollout last year of the build out line and why so many referees didn't understand it and called it differently....I'm still seeing some confusion for both USSF and AYSO but AYSO has a lot of mechanisms to make sure the refs are calling it correctly as the weeks go on). AYSO's big problem is retention...as kids with soccer experience drop out or move up to club, they lose the parent expertise too so they sometimes struggle to put experienced CRs into the mix.

    The other thing CalSouth is struggling with is the sharp divisions between the "let them play" school of referees. Some refs call it tightly, some refs have an expansive definition of what is trifling, and CalSouth hasn't really provided a whole lot of guidance, and that's become a problem.
     
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  9. Surfref

    Surfref Silver Elite

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    Humor me on this. To start out with, referees are taught how to communication with the coaches and players, and to not talk to the spectators. The majority of coaches are not a-holes to referees, but there are a-hole coaches out there that yell at the referee just to see if they can influence or get the Referee rattled. I know several coaches very well that still yell at me until I ask them to stop then they stop.

    I have not made it a secret that I have not been happy with a few of my ARs recently. Sorry accidentally hit post and edit will not give me enough time to finish typing so this will continue in the next post.
     
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  10. GunninGopher

    GunninGopher

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    SD County Association has a referee ranking system and auto-assignments, but I honestly don't know how often assessors are out there. I would rather be assessed and given feedback from an assessor than have rankings solely decided by team official feedback. I'd gladly take less or more pay based upon my performance, and be assigned games that a competent assignor and assessor feel I capable of doing. I really don't care about the paltry money. I'd be happy to join other referees to put $10 per game into a pot that goes to the sidelines we vote the best.

    I agree with Grace above and I felt that the AYSO Regional (now called something else) referee training is better than what I hear Cal South offers for Grade 8. In the region I occasionally work, there is often a very experienced referee at the field to mentor new referees. I got my grade 8 because an AYSO Intermediate referee automatically qualifies as Grade 8, so I didn't take the class, but I have heard from those that have.

    I'm certainty not the best referee, and I'm definitely not the worst. Fall competitive league is very emotionally draining. I have a lot of trouble disregarding some of the sideline comments directed toward me. For the last 2 seasons, at the end of fall league, I pretty much decided to quit competitive referee and just go back to AYSO. The parents usually appreciate me a lot more and the exercise is about the same. The kids in rec are at least as fun to run with. My ref fees are taxed at the highest rate (40% or more), then deduct gas, and what I have to spend to keep my wife from griping about me being gone for 8 hours a weekend so I'm definitely not in it for the money.

    I don't understand what happened to civility in today's society. I can't believe how people feel so entitled. If more rational parents spoke up, the less offensive of the bunch might chill out and the worst offenders might quit, or at least be concentrated into teams that tolerate the behavior, and we could fix that quickly.

    I had a game Sunday where a parent was into me from the first whistle. About a minute into the match she used a bad word. The ball went out of play and I told the coach that she was becoming a problem. This is 1.5 minutes in and the coach already was warned. The coach and a few other parents got her to chill out and the coach was good to work with.

    This parent did graciously offer to video my performance for the rest of the game for me. Instead of relaxing and enjoying her daughter play, she video taped a fat old man running up and down the field, and I do run the whole field. Since it is all about me, I should say I had a pretty good game, despite these 05 girls starting to exercise their inner teenager. This all for about $30, which I had to skip lunch and rush to earn after my daughter's game 45 minutes away. I hope she sends the whole video in. While she would not be any of the following, I welcome constructive comments from competent critics. There are a few things I would have done differently and/or better with hindsight, but referee's don't have hindsight.

    Unlike all coaches and spectators, we're accountable for our decisions. Everyone else can have an opinion and nobody can rebut them because their opinion doesn't matter. Everyone has an opinion on the referee and his/her decisions.

    One thing that needs to be said is: if a referee is having a bad game, he probably knows it, and yelling only makes it worse. Your coach knows what is going on and if he is a good coach, he will quietly bring something up with the referee. Yes, a few of us are real arrogant arse holes, and they can take the shine off of the most of us that just want to have a fun day and do our best. If you want to get the best out of the referee, no matter how good or bad he/she is, it is best to just shut up and enjoy the game. We're all just doing our best.
     
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  11. Surfref

    Surfref Silver Elite

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    I have not been happy with more than a few of my ARs recently. The bad ARs continued this past weekend and the coaches didn’t help keep things calm during a B18 game. I should have known I was going to have problems when during my pregame the 20 y/o AR says “I’m a starting keeper at “JC name” and know all of this.” My other AR was only in his year and has not done centers over U13 and has not worked many B19 games as an AR. My pre-game is very thorough and takes at least 10 minutes to go through everything. The game is going really smooth with few fouls and the players are not giving me any through the first 35 minutes. The 20 y/o AR is on the Red parents side and those parents are being very vocal. Easy foul call, I am about 10 yards behind with a great angle to be able to see the jersey hold and stretched a foot behind the player, on Red 30 yards from goal near the sideline. A good 3-4 seconds after the call my AR starts waiving his flag and points the other way and yells, “you got it wrong the foul was on Blue.” I wave his flag down and the Red players start to yell at me that the AR said it wasn’t a foul. I herd the players into position and whistle for the kick. Kick hits the top bar bounces down and comes out into the penalty area and a red player kicks the ball up field. I could not tell if the ball had crossed the line and look over at my AR who was running up field with the players then he starts waving the flag while running. Now I am confused. I blow the whistle to stop play and ask him what the foul is for (he waved the flag which means a foul) and he yells that the ball went into the goal. All hell breaks loose from the Red players, coach and spectators. I get the game restarted quickly. Half ends and I straighten my ARs out on the proper mechanics for a goal that only the AR sees.

    First 10 minutes of second half are going smooth. Then we have a corner kick on the inexperienced ARs side. Ball gets kicked out just beyond the penalty area and I am focusing on the players going for the ball that gets headed out for a goal kick. I look over and the keeper is on the ground holding his face and says a Blue player punched him. I ask my AR and he says he was watching the ball instead of where I told him to focus on during the pre-game. All I could was apploigize to the keeper for missing the punch. I knew there was going to be retaliation and had to tighten up the game and continue to stay close to play. 10 minutes later Red crosses and the ball goes 4-5 feet over an offside Red players head and another Red player runs onto the ball and scores. I look over at my AR and he is waving the flag like crazy. I start to jog over to him, but he yells “the Red player was offside no goal.” Blue players are happy and Red players and coach yelling at me and the AR. I get the players away from us and ask him quietly which Red player and he says, “number 19 the ball went over his head and distracted the defenders.” I tell him that was not offside and he says loud enough for the players to hear, “that was offside, you have it wrong.” It took every bit of control not to tell him to leave, but I quietly told him to go to his sideline, do his job and not to publicly question me. I indicate the goal was good and we restart. I spend the remaining 20 minutes calling almost a foul a minute and had to warn both coaches once. We ended in a tie with no injuries and two yellow cards per team. Red coach tells me I suck. Blue coach says, “you did a good job considering who you had to work with.”

    A lot of the issues you brought occurred in my game, but not because the Center Referee didn’t know his shit or do a bad job. But, because of the ego and lack f knowledge of the LOTG and the other ARs inexperience.
     
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  12. baldref

    baldref Silver

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    most referees are fine. some are poor. most coaches are fine, some are poor. i believe this thread tends to focus on the poor referees and it's not the norm. most of us will talk to a coach if that's what he/she tries to do, unless it's every call, or it's yelling and complaining and not a pertinent question. you want an explanation or two during the game, most of us are more than happy to give it. parents deserve no explanations because 99% of them don't know what they're watching to begin with. and this "we're the consumer we have a right to complain" is total garbage. just enjoy your kid's game. the game is always, always about the players. never about the parent. ever. get that through your heads.

    i'm ok with ratings as long as it's someone non-biased who is watching the performances. ratings from team managers and coaches are useless.

    again, sure there are referees who do a shitty job. sure there are referees who do a mediocre job. but it's a difficult job, and it's made that way mostly because of poor parents and coaches who think it's ok to abuse, or at the very least try to influence the referees. acting in that manner only hurts your players. It NEVER helps your players.

    I think you start there. coaches control yourselves and your parents, and if once that's accomplished, you have a crap referee that's nasty and doesn't want to be there, then you address it through proper channels.
     
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  13. Paul Spacey

    Paul Spacey Bronze

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    H
    I agree with you that there are many poor coaches out there (and parents who have zero idea or understanding of the laws of the game). Like I said, I’m a long-standing ref so consider myself part of both groups (referees and coaches) and I have to tell you; based on my experience for the last 6 years in SoCal (coaching, reffing and watching all levels of soccer) my assertion is that it’s a majority of both refs and coaches, not a minority, who are closer to the ‘poor’ end of the scale. This is mostly down to attitude and ego.

    I feel for referees at times because it looks like a difficult job with some of the abuse they get but the reality is that coaching and refereeing are not difficult jobs; they are made difficult by the attitude and actions of each ref and coach.

    As a referee; if you are honest, prepared to communicate well with everyone, willing to put a smile on your face and have a good understanding of the LOTG, the job is easy and can even be enjoyable.

    As a coach; if you are honest, prepared to communicate well with parents, willing to smile and understand how to relate to and inspire kids, the job is easy and can be enjoyable.

    For referees like you @baldref who turn up to games armed with a smile (you sound like a smiler), a good grasp of the LOTG and a willingness to engage with parents/coaches, we should all be hugely grateful and pay you guys extra, quite frankly (I’d be happy to pay extra tips to solid refs at the end of any game). For those refs that turn up with almost the opposite attitude and approach, we need to find a way to engage and help them, hence this thread looking for ideas.

    Your advice to coaches on controlling themselves and their parents is spot on by the way.
     
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  14. baldref

    baldref Silver

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    while i don't agree with you 100% on some of the minor details, i think we are on the same page in theory.

    and yes, i almost always have huge smile when i'm in the middle of a game, because it's so much damn fun. i have been doing it for a long time and have learned to deal with the fact that i just facilitate things. i don't cause coaches to get tossed. I don't cause the 16 year old boy that got fouled to come up swinging. i certainly didn't force that moronic parent to scream obscenities because i may have called a throw in the wrong direction so i had to demand they go away and miss sally's game. i'm at peace with those decisions, but it takes a long time, and some attitude adjusting, and the younger and less experienced referees don't have that yet. so i can understand why they get abrasiveness, defensive, and mean when dealing with the people who unfairly put that pressure on them. plus, like you say, some of them are rotten douchebags. that's the world today.

    so maybe part of the referee "education" system can be geared at demeanor and how to teach them that they shouldn't feel bad about what they have to do. even when you're throwing out a numbskull coach in a 7v7 U9 game, you can do it with a smile on your face? and you can go home and not let it bother you?
     
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  15. MA0812

    MA0812 Bronze

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    Absolutely agree! When we are lucky enough to get refs and AR's that smile and engage all parties, it made for a great experience and even when there were misses or perceived misses by the uninformed parents all sides were much more forgiving and could chuckle about it. Parents apologize and refs/ar's acknowledge that something was missed. That sets a great example for the kids as well by taking ownership. There was mutual respect and the games were smooth. Maybe that is unrealistic to expect all of the time given how large the pool has to be to accommodate the number of games in CalSouth. It does work however and there really are some great officials out there but unfortunately there are some bad apples and some rotten ones too that spoil it. (parents/coaches fall into this as well) The league has a responsibility as well to ensure they are providing a quality product for those who are investing in their product and to ensure the safety of the players and the refs. Once it goes south it's too late. Just as much as parents, players, coaches, and refs need to own their side of the equation so to does the league. The stern talking to and mass emails only addresses one side of the responsibility. Sending an email doesn't address the in-house problems and accountability. Police yourself before you police others.

    Thank you to all of the good refs out there who are a positive part of the game. It sounds like we have several who have commented on this thread. (Surfref, etc)
     
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  16. Eagle33

    Eagle33 Silver

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    I will have to disagree on this. Poor refereeing is actually becoming the norm. What I've noticed lately most of the issues coming from experienced referees who for some strange reason act like they know it all and don't give a shit about anything. I also start seeing referees making up Laws as they go (per examples bellow). I'm not saying all referees are bad, but the good ones are very hard to come by lately.

    Just past weekend I've seen following:
    Game started with goals not being checked and one of the goals being 5 yards behind the field
    Game started with AR still checking the net
    Coach was Red carded for not wanting to substitute player per referee request
    Player was Red carded for not wanting to leave the field per referee request
     
  17. baldref

    baldref Silver

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    totally disagree. i'm guessing, i wasn't there and can't be sure, that you're exaggerating and or wrong. i do know you have bias. i don't know, but suspect, that you really don't know what you're looking at.

    It's my contention that the problem starts with you and people like you. most referees are competent. most. very few are arrogant assholes that make shit up. very few. most and very few are different things.
     
  18. jrcaesar

    jrcaesar Silver

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    I'm doing AYSO 16s and below. I see this tip about checking in with the parents every so often. I'm there to positively interact with the players and coaches - especially the players - and I really could not care less about saying a word to the parents. If the game is flowing well, I'll let the parents know that we're having fun on the pitch (maybe a random "this is well played" comment when I'm close to the touch line) but walking up and saying "hello" before the match to the fans - not for me.

    That written, every now and then my son's team (2005s) will have a referee who does the "hello speech," which is nice. One of those guys we see every now and then is in the upper 10% of those we see, so maybe there's something to it? :)
     
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  19. Eagle33

    Eagle33 Silver

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    I'm not wrong or biased and has been referee for a long time, currently I'm grade 15.
     
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  20. espola

    espola Silver Elite

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    Ratings:
    +4,336 / 197
    I agree. You're guessing.
     

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