DWelcome to the FOC Ombudsman page. This is a pilot program to have more direct and responsive communication with the referee cadre and to give the cadre a place to pose questions, lodge complaints which would not qualify as an official sanction and create a forum for the sharing of best practices.

I am Derek Cotton, the Ombudsman. I have been a member of USA Fencing for more than 30 years, have been rated referee since 1989, an international referee since 1994, a member of the FOC since 1997 and a former member of the FIE’s Arbitrage Commission. In the truest sense of the word, I am not an Ombudsman, because I am a member of the very body of which I am supposed to be objective, but it is a start. At our last FOC meeting, I suggested that we open a true dialogue with the referees to try to put to bed the “smoky room” idea of our work. I will grant you that the room can be a little hazy, but this is a real attempt to give clarity when possible and to give direct explanation for decisions and policies. I will also be critical of the FOC when necessary. Like any governing body, there are times our work and decisions are controversial, and I am hoping that through this site sunlight can be an antiseptic. I will use this blog to post longer articles about the FOC and the method by which the FOC makes decisions (e.g., rating changes, push list, tournament usage, etc.), while we will use our Facebook page and Twitter account to create a dialogue for more instant communication.

Working alongside me are six referees who were hand selected by me for this pilot program. All have been refereeing for years, some internationally, some domestically. Most importantly they are all actively working referees who you will see at local, regional, national and international events. They represent the full spectrum of refereeing in the United States. Your referee representatives to the Ombudsman are:

• Matthew Cox
• Dan Crocket
• Andria Hine
• Tasha Poissant
• Michael Ross
• Lisa Sapery

These individuals have accepted to put their knowledge and reputation out front in an attempt to foster better communication between the FOC and its cadre and to answer any questions on policies, operations and the work of the FOC.

Welcome to our little test. All comments are welcome, and we will work to address the ones which deal with the operations and decisions of the FOC. If you feel uncomfortable in making comments directly, please utilize your regional representatives. They will keep your comments in confidence and relay your concerns to the Ombudsman.

2 thoughts on “Introductions

  1. While this is a good idea, it’s disturbing that you brush off concerns about the fact that this group not only answers directly to the FOC but is headed by an FOC member. This has been the first response from literally every referee I’ve talked with about the new ombudsman program.


    1. SWEET! I get to be the first person to like it. While the very qualified and experienced Mr. Cotton is on the FOC and the ombudsman (a potential conflict of interest), I believe that he will work for the best interests of the cadre.
      Also, his regional appointees are some of the harshest and most honest critics of the FOC. I trust this group to act in the spirit of their described purpose.


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