The Memories & Spirit of the Game, as only Ken Aston could teach it...
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-= There Is Only... One Referee =-
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Everything is different in soccer...

ago in... [1964], a British Soccer Referee named Ken Aston was walking the streets of London when he came up with one of the differences.

"It was all quite simple," Ken Aston said here recently. "The traffic slowed down when the yellow warning light came on, and stopped when it turned red."

The next day, enlightened, he began holding up red and yellow cards on the playing field --- yellow to warn a player of a rules infraction, red to eject him.

It was an idea that took hold...

"Soccer is played in 154 countries, and today every Referee uses the cards," he said. "You don't have to communicate in all those languages. You just have to know red from yellow."

Everything is different in Soccer. After rules infractions in, say, an NFL game, football players aren't warned, they're instantly penalized.

"You have to call them as you see them in baseball, too. Or basketball,"   Ken Aston said. "But not Soccer..."

"The Referee's responsibility in Soccer is to keep the game moving. The (nature) of the infraction is balanced in with the good of the game, the safety of the players, fair play, and other things.

"Normally, (a foul) shouldn't be called on a Soccer (field) unless it matters to the game. In Soccer, every call is a judgment call."

Ken Aston, a former English Prep School Headmaster, should know. At 76 [1992], he is probably the world's most prominent Soccer Official. A veteran of years as an Instructor of Referees, he has worked all the big International Matches as well as England's FA Cup final, the game that is the British equivalent to the Super Bowl.

Best known for his role with the red and yellow disciplinary cards --- which are now mandatory everywhere in organized Soccer --- he makes two California stops each year, serving youth organizations at the Ken Aston Referee Camp in Long Beach and the Ken Aston Cup series in Mission Viejo.

A tall, grey, courtly son of a soldier, Ken Aston doesn't run either the camp or the tournament. They were simply named for him because of his stature in Soccer.

"A successful Referee will always be successful in any business or profession," he told 250 amateur officials, most of them business or professional men in their 40s, at the three-day Referee camp sponsored by the...
AYSO --- American Youth Soccer Organization.

"It takes the same personal qualities," he said, listing... honesty first and then dedication, initiative, and the ability to manage people.

In Soccer, however, everything is different...

"I come to you as a liberator from the American concept of team play," Ken Aston said. "Soccer is about enjoyment... The Referee is there to assure that the players enjoy themselves. Whether the score is 7-1 or nil-nil, everybody wins in Soccer. If they enjoy, they have won..."

In adult Soccer, obviously, things aren't quite the same. But the function of the Referee is precisely the same, according to an Ken Aston --- trained Los Angeles-area Referee Administrator, Bruce Davy, a Sound Engineer.

"During the World Cup matches, you will notice that the Referee has the same three responsibilities," Davy said. "He'll be out there to maintain a safe environment, to keep the game flowing, and to see that the players and spectators all enjoy it."

Everything is different in Soccer. At the World Cup final at the Rose Bowl in 1994, the officiating will be done by one person, as it always is.

On the same field where the NFL uses seven Super Bowl Officials --- a Referee as coordinator and six others who are virtually autonomous in their areas --- the Referee will again be the only World Cup authority.

Two Assistant Referee's/Linesmen or women will help him keep track of the action, but as it says in Soccer Law 6, "The Referee may or may not (accept) their advice."-+ Law # 6 +-

Said Ken Aston: "You'll have just one whistle on the field."

One whistle --- and 105,000 voices.

"The final will be a sellout," Ken Aston said, Referring to the last of Pasadena's eight World Cup games. "The enthusiasm in California will be all it was for the (1984) Olympics. I predict there won't be a crowd under 30,000."

"Under 50,000," said civil engineer Bill Mason, founder of the Ken Aston camp, and now Co-Director with Brian Davis, who is also an aircraft company engineer.

Ken Aston noted that Soccer was the National Game of both America and England 150 years ago, when both called it Football. In this country, it was transformed into American Football with hundreds of rule changes before the dawn of the 20th Century.

Why have Britons, at the same time, kept the game virtually unchanged?

"We English are sure of who we are after centuries of being English," Ken Aston said. "Americans have been seeking a true national identity.

"In (Britain), from one day to the next, from the southern coast of England to the northern tip of Scotland, you never see the Union Jack flying anywhere --- at Banks or Schools or even Parliament.

In America..., the Stars and Stripes fly everywhere...

"See you on the...PITCH"

Ken Aston, MBE, Football Referee, born on September 1, 1915. Died on October 23, 2001, @  86 years.

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Page updated on... Friday, October 03, 2014 @ 20:23:24 -0700 PM - GMT
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