Initial television replays didn't reveal the foul, and when Baharmast read the newspapers the next morning, he was stunned. One called the play "an imaginary penalty." "Scandalous," read another. A third said Baharmast had "robbed" Morocco. "I thought they had gone crazy," says Baharmast, who like all World Cup referees was under a gag order during the tournament. "I wasn't worried for my safety, but I was concerned that American businesses or the American consulate might become targets in some of those nations."
That was when the Internet came to the rescue. In Columbus, Ohio, Mark Christopher, a friend of Baharmast's, was surfing the Web when he found the site of a Norwegian television network, NRK, which had the smoking gun: a still photo of the Brazilian defender with a fistful of Norwegian jersey. Christopher E-mailed Baharmast's wife in Denver, and she faxed the Web site's address to her husband in France. Baharmast then informed the referees' committee of FIFA, the international soccer federation, which unveiled the vindicating evidence at a press conference in Paris.
A consummate official (even off the field he wears two wrist-watches in case one malfunctions), Baharmast is the only U.S. ref to have worked a World Cup. He hung up his whistle after the MLS All-Star Game on Sunday and will take over as U.S. Soccer's Director of Officials. Yet he's still troubled by the notion that he was correct only so long as the cameras proved it. "Let's assume the tape wouldn't have shown the penalty," Baharmast says. "In the eyes of the world I would have been guilty. Instead, I went from being guilty to being a hero. There's something wrong with that."
The New Cradle Of Coaches?
When Frank Layden retired as coach of the Utah Jazz in 1988, the rotund clown prince of basketball figured two things were certain: He would never again be able to squeeze into an airplane seat, and he would never again coach in the pros.
Yet there was Layden on July 27, thin as a scarecrow, guiding the Utah Starzz to a 90-80 victory over the Phoenix Mercury in his WNBA coaching debut. Layden, 66, had been hired to replace the fired Denise Taylor. "I like teaching basketball, and I wanted to help the women's game grow," says Layden, who will remain the Jazz's president.
Layden isn't the only high-profile NBA figure in women's hoops. Last Friday the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks elevated assistant coach and former NBA star Orlando Woolridge to replace fired coach Julie Rousseau. Erstwhile Dallas Mavericks coach Jim Cleamons has signed on to guide the Chicago Condors of the ABL next season, joining Boston Celtics legend and New England Blizzard coach K.C. Jones in that league.
Why would men with marquee names coach in a women's league as opposed to taking over a men's college program or serving as an NBA assistant? "Success at any level gets you noticed," says New York Knicks president Ernie Grunfeld.
Unlike Cleamons and Wool-ridge, Layden has no interest in coaching in the NBA. He has lost 175 pounds since his non-salad days in the Show, and his goal is to transform the Starzz, who began the season by losing 13 of 19 games, in similarly dramatic fashion. "One of the reasons I quit coaching in the NBA was because much of the fun had gone out of the game," Layden says. "I don't see that in this league."
High School Scandal
Readin, Writin' And Rotisserie