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William Lai
William Lai
William Lai is a qualified soccer referee, instructor and assessor, and has also officiated in England and Australia. As an educator, scientist and social scientist, he is also interested in human behaviour which is why his column offers an alternative and rational commentary of what happens on and off the pitch.

It was the year when professionalism came to Hong Kong soccer, when more money than ever was invested, and when everything would be better. So how did the inaugural 2014-15 Hong Kong Premier League play out?

Pushy mums and dads as well as combative coaches - who are blighting the chances of youngsters making their way in the sport - need to take a step back

Some teams have all the luck, some teams have all the pain, some get all the breaks, while others do nothing but complain. The song lyrics - slightly amended - perfectly captures what happens every weekend on soccer pitches all over the world.

Eden Hazard and Harry Kane were chosen by their fellow counterparts for the Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards, respectively. But just how credible are rating systems for choosing the best in soccer?

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Goalkeepers are the oddballs because they do not have nifty footwork and any mistake will usually influence a match's outcome. As such, there has long been a sneaky suspicion that referees overly protect goalkeepers.

No matter how silly and infantile throwing tantrums and clumps of grass may be on the soccer pitch, they can still get you sent off. The latest example comes from the Spanish top-flight league where Celta Vigo striker Fabian Orellana lost his rag at the time-wasting antics of Barcelona's Sergio Busquets.

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The Red Devils centre back denied a charge of spitting at Newcastle United's Papiss Cisse this month and, after the FA found him guilty as charged, immediately maintained his innocence. 

In sport what is more important: playing the game or playing games? Nowhere else but in soccer is this distinction more apparent, with plenty of cheating and gamesmanship instead of genuine sportsmanship and model behaviour.

The term "Men in Black" is more likely to conjure up images of Will Smith blasting aliens into outer space rather than referees carding players off the soccer pitch. That's because the game's leading law enforcers are mostly kitted out in lemon yellow, lipstick red, sherbet blue and even fuchsia pink.

Technology in soccer has always been an abhorrent matter, with many "dinosaurs" in the game regarding it as pure evil. Last week, the game's panel of prehistoric "Powers That Be" reinforced its stubborn and narrow-minded reputation by voting against authorising a live trial of video-based assistance for referees.

What's the best way to stop Eden from passing you by? Hazard a guess? Several kicks ought to do it. Hazard is the most fouled player in the English Premier League this season. The Chelsea star was on the receiving end of some "special" treatment in last week's Champions League encounter with Paris Saint-Germain, when he was fouled nine times in a match where the referee issued only two cautions.