Baltimore Blast owner Ed Hale called nine-year veteran Toros Kibritjian "the worst referee in the league" yesterday, and said Kibritjian shouldn't be allowed to work any more Baltimore games.
"When he [Kibritjian] is on the field, we don't get a fair deal," Hale said. "I think he costs us games. He waves his finger in front of our players' faces and plays the role of an intimidator to Tim Wittman, Billy Ronson and Mike Stankovic, instead of a mediator."
Hale said he has decided to speak out about Kibritjian, 56, after an incident involving Kibritjian and Ronson a week ago in a 5-4 loss to the San Diego Sockers here.
"Kibritjian said to Billy Ronson, 'Go ahead and say something, so I can throw you out,' " said Hale. "It's not proper for a referee to act that way. I know Earl [Foreman, league commissioner] will fine me big-time for these comments, but I can't stand by and let this happen anymore. To protect our team, he shouldn't be allowed to work any of our games. He's the worst referee in the league."
Foreman was preparing to leave for Zurich, Switzerland, where the St. Louis Storm will be playing in an indoor tournament, and could not be reached yesterday.
Herb Silva, Major Soccer League director of officials, couldn't be reached for comment, either.
Kibritjian also could not be reached. In the past, most MSL officials have declined repeatedly to comment about their roles on the field.
Ronson confirmed yesterday that Kibritjian had make threatening remarks to him in the San Diego game. Ronson also said Kibritjian seems to make more calls against him, Wittman and Stankovic.
"It's just like he's looking for a reason to make a call against us or throw us out of a game," Ronson saids. "Last Saturday night zTC wasn't the first time that he has said, 'Go ahead, say something so I can throw you out.' "
Hale said the past two games Kibritjian has refereed at the Arena "have been the worst-officiated games I've seen in the year and a half I've owned the team. I hope we never see him again in one of our games at home or away."
Hale said he asked other league owners at the first meeting he attended as Blast owner last year: "Why is a guy who's so bad allowed to referee?"
Hale said he was told that Kibritjian filed a lawsuit against the league that allowed him to come back and work "after he was fired for writing a telltale book about the Major Soccer League."
John Griffin, MSL director of communications, said yesterday that Kibritjian had written a book in 1986 that "blasted some players, owners and coaches in the league. The league had a problem with that book."
A league source confirmed that Kibritjian, a native of Aleppo, Syria, wasn't invited back for the 1986-87 season and filed a grievance that led to his return for the 1989-90 season.
Hale said he has told Silva: "There has to be better referees around than Toros Kibritjian."
Hale said Silva wouldn't respond to his remarks about Kibritjian.