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MLS, learning nothing from the NFL, will open year with replacement refs

Posted by: Michael Rand under Soccer Updated: March 7, 2014 - 3:19 PM

In a move that will certainly result in Golden Tate scoring a controversial match-winning goal for the Seattle Sounders, Major League Soccer has announced it will start the season with replacement officials.

That worked great in the NFL, of course, so why wouldn't it be fine in soccer?

On a conference call earlier this week, MLS Commissioner Don Garber expressed confidence that things will be A-OK. That sentiment was echoed on Friday.

MLS said it will start its season on Saturday with replacement referees after an impasse between the league's referees and their employer, the Professional Referees Organization, forced a lockout.

MLS and PRO said the lockout of referees belonging to the Professional Soccer Referees Association took effect at 11 a.m. on Friday, according to Steve Taylor, the union’s vice president.

"Although it is regrettable that the Professional Soccer Referees Association rejected PRO’s offer to continue with the current referees while negotiations continue, we have great confidence in the plan for replacement referees that PRO has put in place," said Mark Abbott, MLS president and deputy commissioner.

The replacement referees come from a group that includes FIFA referees who have moved to North America from overseas, retired MLS referees, and referees from other professional leagues in the United States. In preparation, PRO said that the replacement referees attended a training camp last week.

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