Mike Petke is mad as hell and he’s not going to take this anymore!

The Real Salt Lake manager was ejected in their 3-2 loss to Minnesota United FC after arguing that Minnesota’s first goal shouldn’t have stood. Petke argued that a foul by Darwin Quintero that he felt was missed that set up Minnesota’s first goal. Petke also took offense to an earlier foul by Rasmus Schuller that he felt should have been a straight red instead of a yellow.

Petke has felt the sting of league officials over the past few games and he has had enough. In an open moment of sheer honesty, Petke told the media what he felt about MLS referees and didn’t hold back.

Many coaches in all sports get fined by their league for criticizing their officials. Mike Petke made sure that if he was going to get fined, he got his money’s worth and then some.

Petke’s big criticism on the Schuller foul was that there was no discussion from the center referee Alan Kelly to even talk about reviewing the play. VAR is used for clear and obvious mistakes and a potential red card foul like this would have made it eligible for review. But like anything conducted by humans, there’s even going to be mistakes with deciding to review so that could be the case here.

Petke later goes on about how over the last few games, when he would raise issues with the officials, they seemed to give him the run around by saying they were aware of Petke’s concerns but Petke felt they didn’t do anything about it. Then Petke targeted MLS where he revealed that all he hears from the league is they just tell him “Stop criticizing the referees.”

MLS isn’t the only league who does this. Every league in every sport keeps their officials off limits to the media, to the teams and just about everyone. So when it comes to actually discussing and trying to get the point of view of the official, it’s either not given or they’re protected by the league and we only get so much info.

I get why officials shouldn’t be completely open in being scrutinized. I reffed a few high school games and it’s a tough job. Being a referee is difficult, it pays like crap and everyone hates you. I honestly don’t know why anyone would want to be a referee but whatever, I agree with Petke in that some sort of explanation from the officials themselves would at least give us the perspective of the official and what they saw. I’m not saying it was the case with RSL but maybe something was the wrong call but standing in their position, it was the right call. And then when it comes to VAR, it wasn’t reviewed because it was determined it wasn’t a “clear and obvious” mistake.

Anyone in PR knows that when there is a crisis, it’s best to get out in front of it so you can control the story instead of the story controlling you. That may be easier said than done sometimes but it’s usually the best strategy. By not letting officials talk to the public (sometimes MLS officials speak to a pool reporter), it lets fans, the teams and the media to come up with their own conclusions and that usually isn’t complementary to that official and that league. I would even take that the official doesn’t take any questions from the media or the team. Just say what happened on this play, in your own words, and explain why you made that call.

This is ultimately a forgiving society and we know referees will make mistakes; that’s the point of having VAR. I don’t know if Alan Kelly still believes he made the right calls but if he felt he made a mistake, an admission of a mistake and an apology would smooth things over. I don’t know if Petke and the rest of RSL would immediately forgive him but it would over time. Hell, one of the most famous story involving an official was Jim Joyce blowing Armando Galarraga’s perfect game. We all knew it was an out but Joyce called the runner safe, denying Galarraga a chance at baseball immortality. Joyce could’ve stayed away but he faced the music, admitted he made a mistake and felt horrible about it. And Galarraga and everyone else forgave him because he was human and set aside his own ego for a second to admit to a mistake.

Will that happen here? I highly doubt it. That’s kinda the reason why Petke made this rant in the first place. If the same thing is happening over and over and over again and it seems like no one is doing anything about it, you eventually reach a breaking point.

Petke reached that breaking point and knew that he was going to get fined. In fact, Petke called MLS out to fine him saying “Fine me. I don’t care anymore. No other coach in this league steps up a little more than they should. I’m going to. So drain my bank account, I don’t give a shit anymore. OK!”

I mean, if you’re going to drop the mic (or the headset in this case), drop the mic on that statement.

[Salt Lake Tribune]

About Phillip Bupp

News and soccer editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. I also do video highlight game coverage for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

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