Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Banning of H.D.

At the recent Millennium Series Bitburg event a long time pro player, H.D., was involved in an altercation with a ref that resulted in H.D. punching the ref. Bits and pieces of the details can be found at PBN. While I am aware the name of the individual has been made public I'll be sticking with his initials. The point is that from my perspective the who isn't important. I have no intention of arguing the specific details or the merits of the ban given what transpired. My interest is twofold; documented rules that make enforcement transparent and consistent and a curiosity regarding league standards of conduct with respect to their representatives.
Okay, here's where it gets really tedious. Yep, we're delving into what passes for the MS rules. Sorry but it's necessary. All I can find is the rule book (2006) plus changes that are available on the MS website. In conjunction with those the MS also lists player suspensions for the current season. None of the changes listed includes any relevant to this situation documentation. Consequently I am relying on the only documentation I could find.
Throughout the rule book the phrase that is used for this situation is physical contact. See Penalties and Additional Penalties. Under section 39 [Suspensions, Ejections, DQs & Fines] it goes so far as to identify "intentional physical contact that could be construed to be assault & battery" in subsection 39.04 which results in an immediate ejection from the event and a one event suspension. The only place the language changes is in section 40 [Decorum] subsection 40.02 that stipulates up to a one year suspension can be handed out for a physical altercation. Those are the two areas that speak most directly to the H.D. situation. Within the commonly available rule book there is no banning penalty option--of any duration--unless you use ban for suspension interchangeably. Nor even a multiple event suspension option as 39.06 makes clear that continuing unsportsmanlike conduct after an ejection and/or suspension is to be handled with a fine. The only possibility of multi-event suspensions within the rules is covered in 39.05 that stipulates that should a player be suspended a second time in the same season [player] "will be banned for at least one more event." This could be interpreted as opening the door to multi-event suspensions but only under the very specific circumstances of a second suspension within the same year.
EDIT ADDED: Round 1 of contact with Mr. Ulrich Staehr of the MS is concluded. I neglected to ask permission to duplicate or paraphrase his responses on the blog so that portion will have to wait. With respect to multi-event suspensions the MS cites rule 39.04 as justification. In re-reading the sections highlighted by Ulrich it appears the league can reasonably make that case if one of the two events is currently being played at the time of the ejection and suspension. There is much more coming thanks to Ulrich's willingness to engage on this subject.
Btw, having found no supporting rules in any available variant of the MS rules I checked to see if the MS was subject--as a member of the EPBF--to any written EPBF rules governing the subject at hand. Turns out there aren't. Any such rules. (For your own look see go here.) As the EPBF appears to be intended to have direct oversight of Eurorefs I took a look there too for any applicable information or guidelines. That portion of the EPBF is to date incomplete. (See here.) And since the EPBF is (at some future date intended to operate) under the auspices of the UPBF as the world governing body I even took a look there. Sorta. Turns out I could have from GoDaddy today. (I passed.) The best information I could find on the UPBF is here. Bottom line, from all sources available it appears the decision of an 8 year ban is outside the parameters of the league's own rules. You may argue so were the actions involved. I would disagree given the language in some of the rules provisions. Regardless the point that remains is if the league can mete out arbitrary penalties to H.D. they can do the same at anytime to anyone else too. And that should be recognized as everyone's problem--and one that needs to be dealt with before a similar situation occurs.
If you don't think the issue is one that should concern you take a look at this page on the MS website. It's the current suspensions list for 2012. You will note that to date this year 3 players besides H.D. have received multi-event suspensions--contrary to the written rules.
EDIT ADDED: As noted above I rescind my claim that the MS has no basis for a two event suspension under the conditions that one of the two events is currently being played.
Now about that other business. Does the league hold its refs and other reps to any kind of standard of conduct? The question arises because part of the story that is coming out claims the ref who got punched lied (prior to the punch) in order to justify pulling H.D.'s card on the field (which constituted an automatic suspension and ejection.) If true it doesn't justify H.D.'s actions. It does go some way to explain how the situation escalated to the point where a punch was thrown. Again, if true, it seems to me to have a bearing on the final outcome. It means the ref shares some portion of the blame and makes the league complicit with the only guy paying a price for his actions, the customer. After all if lying about what occurred on the field is okay with the MS what else is okay? Drunken refs? Refs under the influence? If there are no standards there is no accountability.

In an attempt to assure accuracy and perhaps get a statement regarding the Mill's thinking in leveling a ban of this duration I have contacted the league's head of rules & officials with a series of short questions and a request for a clarification. I asked about justification of the ban in accordance with the current rule book. (Yes, I know but this is serious business so no laughing aloud--or allowed.) I asked about the outcome of any similar past incidents and I asked if the league had any formal or informal standards of conduct for their referees. When that reply is forthcoming VFTD will revisit the topic.


Anonymous said...

Baca, have you completely forgotten the number 1 rule in euroball?

There is no rulebook. Rules are told on event and they change depending who needs to win.

If you play the game by the printed book form 2006, you lose every point due "rule" violations.

Rules are shit for a reason, so they can't be used as an counter argument against the league when they pull or do stupid shit.

Bear in mind, that even staff and owners of PE have publicly written that their number #1 problem with MS is outdated rules and in reality, no rule book. If they can ignore such a force without blink of an eye, they will just bully you and your blog to silence.

I hope you are ready for the shitstorm due.

Anonymous said...

There is a rule book, Ulrich is proof reading it, guess he's just a slow reader!

Nick Brockdorff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick Brockdorff said...

I absolutely disagree with the statement that rules change "depending on who needs to win".

There is no such conspiracy in the MS, of that I am sure.... if there was, it would have been common knowledge by now.

There IS the occasional personally biassed referee, but I guess that is the case at any paintball event, be that bias against a person, a team or a nationality.

However, I am sure there is a lot of incompetence when it comes to the rulebook.... and I also know that Ulrich is in fact doing his best with the tools he have, without having the power to implement the changes he want.

Case in point... the new "touch back rule" - which is intended to allow for players making a false start to "re-touch" and continue playing, provided they have not fired at the opponents.

At the first event, because the rule is worded so poorly, on some fields, it effectively meant players (and in some instances whole teams) could run into the field after the starting signal had gone off, run to the base, touch it, and start playing.... I saw a game where the whole team entered the field after the starting signal, ran to the base, touched their barrels to it, and then won the point (yes, the opponents weren't that good :D)!

Upon prompting Ulrich to clarify the rule or re-write it so it did what it was intended to do, his reply was he was not allowed to, and that rules language was out of his hands!

This goes to show you why the whole rules area is in such a disarray!

That the rulebook has not been significantly updated since I did it myself in 2006, voluntarily and without receiving a dime for it, is laughable.

That the rulebook is regularly ignored, when something in the current game does not fall under the outdated 2008 rules, is anarchy.

That players are penalised arbitrarily and with no basis in the rules the league is supposed to be operating under, is catastrophic.

The MS can count their lucky stars the PSP has not yet set its sights on Europe.... but maybe that will change when the NPPL dies soon?

Anonymous said...

If the rules are apparently random to the player, then the cause doesn't really matter, does it?

If you can't even bother to have an up-to-date rulebook, you're just pretending.

L4F said...

I think the reff could use the same clothing (even mask, hat, etc) and the player can't identify who is who inside the field, in that way will be less personal, the reff will be the same person always.
About the ban for punch to somebody is ok, but no 8 years, that is too much.

Anonymous said...

The ref was lying story comes from a Portuguese source, only Portuguese at the event, Lisbon Benfica and Lisbon Benfica 2! I'd say the report may be a little biased and therefore a pinch of salt should be taken with it.

Missy Q said...

I personally always put a pinch of salt in my Portuguese sauce. It just adds a hint of the ocean and realy compliments the wine.

Baca Loco said...

Thank you, Missy.

I have updated the post after receiving a first reply from Ulrich. I followed up with additional questions and requested permission to use his responses on the blog as they rep the MS position and respond to some of the issues posed. More to come.

Anonymous said...

It is good the the MS is responding. Hopefully they are able to improve based on the criticism. Ben Franklin said: "Our critics are our friends; they show us our faults."

Nick Brockdorff said...

Ulrich is one of the good ones, you will find him informed and intelligent, albeit a little rigid at times ;)

What is still beyond me, is why he does not have permission to rewrite the rulebook or change it as he sees fit between seasons - and that the league is still saddled with a 7man rulebook from 2006.

I would really like to hear a reply on that one.

As for referee decorum, I am very interested in hearing what he has to say also, as that is most definitely within his purview.

I remember the "good old days" where every 7mam elimination was a debate and every game ended with captains and the ultimate arguing about calls..... and ofcourse we should not wish to return to that..... but in my view, the pendulum has swung too far the other way, so that refs are today more "the enemy" than impartial officials - and that has to change IMHO.

Missy Q said...

I had to have a '7 mam elimination' once. Each of my breasts was the size of 5 regular mams, and I had to get them shrunk down to a 'regular size' due to persistent harrassment, from Baca Loco.
However, even now they are 50% bigger than a regular breast and I fear I didn't do enough..

Anonymous said...

Every major sport has a discipline commissioner to handle cases like this and he/she will decide the consequences after reviewing the case. Not everything is in the rulebook and will never be. But yes, the MS rulebook needs to be updated.

Power tripping refs have always been a problem, but unless you have a wide selection of refs to choose from, what can you do? Train them? Yes..but you're still stuck with the small number of volunteers. You just have to pray that they are sensible people.

Maybe we need a batch of ultimate refs who actually watch the games. They would also evaluate refs performances and take action whenever needed.

Anonymous said...

The ref did lie.
I was there from start to finish. Also worth noting is that Hugo asked for Ulrich (rules Commisioner) and Jabba, the head ref, to be present to discuss what had happened. They were there and led Hugo into the refs tent to have the conversation. Hugo then spoke directly to the ref in question who did lie about what had happened on field that led to Hugos card being taken. When several witnesses to the events on field called BS and said the ref was lying, he back tracked and admitted he had lied. When Hugo asked him again to justify the decision to suspend him, the ref looked up, laughed at him and said, and I quote, " Sh*t happens". While all this was going on, the other refs were just stood behind this ref cringing at what was happening and Jabba and Ulrich just looked on unaware it was about to escalate but fully aware of the emotional state Hugo was in at this point. No attempt to diffuse the situation from either the refs or Ulrich and we find ourselves where we are now. Hugo had sent a letter of apology to the MS and Dye prior to the ruling.

I spoke to the MS in Bitburg and stated I had witnessed all the events and I was told that I would be spoken to before any decisions were made to clarify exactly what happened. No such communication took place.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Thanks for the clarification.

But, what happened onfield prior to the post match debate in the reffing tent?

What was Hugo eliminated for?
What escalated the call to a 141?
Why was his card taken?
Was the point going on or over when each thing in this scenario happened?
What did the ref lie about?

Anonymous said...

1. No idea. That is what hugo was trying to find out. It was the last of a long line of penalties assessed on Hugo during the match.

2. It was a straight 1-4-1

3. His card was taken when he tried to talk to the ref after the penalty was assessed. He tugged the bottom hem of the refs Jersey to ask him why he was being eliminated.

4. The point was still active. The game ended and then Hugo asked for Ulrich and Jabba so he could discuss/complain.

5. Initially the ref, stated that he took Hugos card because he grabbed his jersey around the neck region and then shoved him. When witnesses protested at his statement he then admitted that it didn't not happen that way. Hugo then asked the ref again, why he was eliminated and why his card was confiscated and well... you know how the story goes.

It was a number of events that took the incident to the level where punches were thrown and all of them could have been avoided. In my opinion, the MS are just as guilty of wrong doing but not enforcing a code of conduct for its staff and allowing a potentially volatile to escalate.

No one is condoning Hugos reaction but what is abhorrent is the way the incident has been handled. There are more people accountable for where we are now but it appears that Hugo is the only one being punished and by a ruling that bears no resemblance to anything in the "Rulebook".

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous Missy Q said...

I had to have a '7 mam elimination' once. Each of my breasts was the size of 5 regular mams, and I had to get them shrunk down to a 'regular size' due to persistent harrassment, from Baca Loco.
However, even now they are 50% bigger than a regular breast and I fear I didn't do enough.."


Anonymous said...


Missy Q said...

If I posted pics I would no doubt have to endure another round of midnight heavy-breathing phone calls from our host Senor Loco.
I just can't go through that again. Hope you guys understand.

Anonymous said...

eyewitness report:

and I trust this guy the most so far.

Sooo interesting......

Baca Loco said...

Last Anon
Nobody is disputing that HD punched the ref.
What your eyewitness left out was any of the conversation or even who was present.
I would also like to know in what capacity the eyewitness was present--it must have been as media--because no UK team was active in that set and the CPL pits are fairly closely monitored and restricted even to CPL teams when they aren't playing.

Anonymous said...

Paul, the witness, Steve, (Buns of Steel on P8ntballer) is a Photographer at many events. Used to play on and coach the Mayhem Tigers. I suspect you may know him.

He's a straight up guy and might respond well to being asked questions about what happened to get more clarity.

Nick Brockdorff said...

The guy is Steven Wilson who is a former Pro player and coach for London Tigers (back in the day) and now a photographer - so yeah, he will have been there as media :)

Pete said...

Re: Missy Q
Save the Mams! I'm organizing a charity paintball event during breast cancer awareness month in Los Angeles and I will go on record saying all mams are to be protected.

Missy Q said...

Sorry Pete, too late, they gave me the mams in a bag after the Op, but I sold them on ebay to someone called
If I had known I would definitely have saved them.