In the continuing effort by Major League Soccer to rid its game of player dissent, the league announced yesterday its first penalties under the newly adopted administrative penalty points system introduced prior to the season.
Following the Kansas City Wizards’ overtime loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy on May 5, 2001, referee Kevin Terry reported two incidents of post-game dissent misconduct within the Referee Secure Area. As a result of this report, four penalty points were issued to Kansas City Wizards’ players Tony Meola and Brandon Prideaux for dissent within the Referee Secure Area.
In addition, Alex Prus, the referee for Wednesday night’s match between the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Tampa Bay Mutiny, reported dissent misconduct by the Mutiny’s Carlos Valderrama following regulation time. Consequently, Valderrama was issued four penalty points and fined a sum of $250, since he had already received a yellow card in that game.
The issuance of four additional yellow card penalty points brings these players closer to receiving a potential fine and/or suspension under MLS yellow card penalty point guidelines. These guidelines mandate a one-game suspension and applicable fine when a player accumulates more than 21 points over the course of the regular season. Additionally, if a player accumulates 11 yellow card penalty points over the course of three consecutive regular season games in which he appears, he is consequently suspended from his next regular season game.
Under MLS’ new system, a referee may report a player’s dissent misconduct to league officials following a game. If the referee does so, MLS will administer penalty points to the player following the game. A similar procedure is also used by the English Premier League.
Where penalty points are issued based upon the referee’s report, MLS shall administer the points and any applicable fine prior to the team’s next game. When the referee does not include dissent misconduct in the referee’s post-game report, but the MLS Disciplinary Committee finds evidence of dissent that would have justified the issuance of a yellow card but was undetected by the referee, MLS itself may issue post-game penalty points. In this case, where the dissent is not reported by the referee, the penalty points would be assessed in accordance with the normal practice of the MLS Disciplinary Committee, on the fourth business day following the game in question (Saturday counting as a business day).
Where the offending player has already received a yellow card in the relevant game, he will also be assessed a fine as though he had received a second yellow card but he shall not receive the automatic suspension received by a player who receives a red card. He may, however, receive a suspension if the penalty points assessed take him over a suspension barrier in accordance with the MLS yellow card penalty points guidelines.