Press Release: Ontario Fury Owner Calls for Need to Improve Player Safety

by Ontario Fury

Citing Need to Improve Player Safety, Ontario Fury Owner Calls for MASL Review of Referee Training and Soccer Ball Weight 

Players suffered serious head and leg injuries during a Jan. 26 match; four other serious injuries occurred in matches over the weekend. 

Ontario, Calif January 31, 2022 -- The owner of the Ontario Fury called on the Major Arena Soccer League leadership and fellow owners to take immediate and significant action to review ball safety and referee hiring, training and qualification requirements after two Fury players suffered serious injuries last week. 

During a Jan. 26 match, San Diego Sockers goalie Boris Pardo broke Fury forward Willie Spurr’s leg during a violent collision which did not draw a penalty during the run of play. The next day, the MASL Discipline Review Committee (DRC) acted unanimously to issue a red card, a fine and two-game suspension against Pardo for committing “a very reckless and dangerous challenge.” 

In the 4th quarter of the same match, Fury goalie Chris Toth was knocked down and obviously concussed after a ball kicked from just a few feet away struck him full-force in the head. Despite MASL rules that rightly call for an immediate stoppage of play when a player suffers a head injury or gets injured and is down on the pitch where continued play could cause further injury, play continued around Toth who laid defenseless in front of the goal, while the Sockers continued to pass around him until they scored. 

“From the MASL league offices to the DRC, our owners, coaches and fellow competitors, player safety should always be our top priority. I call on our league to take immediate and significant action to review ball safety and referee hiring, training and qualification requirements. It’s incumbent upon owners to also take steps to identify any potential conflicts of interest among league officials, owners, and referees that could influence outcomes and decisions affecting games and the decision-making process of our league,” said Fury owner Jeff Burum. 

Four other MASL players suffered serious injuries requiring medical assistance over the weekend, including the Baltimore Blast and Harrisburg Heat goal keepers. 

“The additional serious injuries that occurred further underscores the need to undertake a thorough examination of our league protocols to ensure we are promoting player safety,” Burum said. 

During a game, MASL soccer balls can travel at speeds in excess of 120 mph. This year’s official league ball is heavier and harder than in the past, putting players at greater risk of suffering head injuries and concussions. 

“As an owner and an organization, the Fury culture is rooted in our commitment to our players and player safety, to continually elevate the quality of the game, and to increase fan participation and enjoyment. The events of Jan. 26 underscore that our players are at grave risk, and it is critical to make changes to enhance player safety moving forward,” Burum said.