June 24, MLS issued three large fines for three different transgressions in an apparent crackdown on wayward activity within the League. Two of the fines revolve around MLS officiating, which has been justifiably under harsh criticism all season.
MLS says no to diving
D.C. United’s Charlie Davies was fined $1,000 for “putting the game into disrepute” when he dived in the 83rd minute to earn a penalty to steal a point from the game Real Salt Lake had pretty much wrapped up as a win on June 18.
“He even looked at me,” RSL’s Chris Wingert said to the Salt Lake Tribune, “and was kind of like smiling. He knew. He said, ‘That’s football.’ That’s what he told me.”
Davies bragged about his actions to the Washington Post.
“I wouldn’t use ‘dive’,” Davies told the Post, “I’d use embellishment. It’s selling it, that’s the word I’d use. Great players do whatever they can to change the game, it’s something you shouldn’t be ashamed about.”
The League informed club preseason that they wanted to see a decrease in diving, embellishment and other simulation intended to deceive the officials.
“The MLS Disciplinary Committee ruled that Charlie Davies intentionally deceived the officials and gained an unfair advantage which directly impacted the match,” MLS Executive Vice President Nelson Rodriguez said. “This type of behavior tarnishes the image of the League, is detrimental to the game and will not be tolerated.
Moving forward, all instances of behavior that serves to deceive and that directly impact the game will be subject to severe discipline, including a fine, suspension or both.”
Davies returned to MLS after a failed European career and involvement in a fatal car accident in which a young woman died and he incurred multiple injuries. Click here to see Davies’ video documentation of his scarring and here to read a Goal editorial by Zac Lee Rigg about Davies’ questionable philosphies.
ESPN recently released a humorous video that mocks diving in soccer, perhaps sending a message to MLS.
MLS says no to criticizing the League
MLS Commissioner Don Garber fined Red Bull New York $10,000 for general manager Erik Stoler’s public criticism of League officials on Monday. Stoler took issue with Thierry Henry’s ejection for angrily tapping Adam Moffat on the back of the head in the 93rd minute of the 3-3 tie with the Portland Timbers.
“The level of refereeing was absolutely below the standards of what is required for a MLS match and completely unacceptable,” read Stoler’s statement. “First, the red card given to Thierry Henry was inexplicable. There was no violent conduct on his part whatsoever and this decision was made by a linesman who was more than half a field away. Second, in any soccer game, there is no way that one team can draw 20 more fouls than the other team, especially in a match where one team drew just five fouls. I have never seen this occur in my 30 years in the game.
We are aware that U.S. Soccer and MLS are working hard to improve the officiating in this country and we support those efforts wholeheartedly. However, if we want to continue increasing the level of play, we cannot let these types of refereeing performances occur. We look forward to speaking with the League to appeal Thierry’s automatic red card suspension and expect that it will be rescinded so that he is available for our match Thursday in Seattle.”
Needless to say, Henry’s red card was not rescinded, but the fact remains that game-changing poor calls by referees have overshadowed 2011 MLS games. In a league where brutal fouls often go unpunished and players regularly harrass and intimidate referees, Henry’s red card was unquestionably harsh. In order to regain public trust, the League needs to take immediate action explaining who has been responsible for overseeing referees in 2011, where they went terribly wrong, and what specific actions they’re taking to remedy the situation.
“The statement released by Red Bull New York this week undermines our substantial efforts to continue improving all aspects of our competition,” said Garber.
MLS says no to falsifying injury reports
MLS fined the LA Galaxy $5,000 for violating the League’s policy regarding injury reports ahead of their June 18 match against the Colorado Rapids.The League determined that the Galaxy deliberately omitted David Beckham’s name from their injury report despite knowing that he would miss the game because of back spasms.
MLS requires its clubs to submit an injury report twice a week during the regular season and those reports must be as accurate as possible. MLS has good reason to tighten up on injury reports. In a 2010 interview with Declan Hill, the author of The Fix, Hill told me that some MLS players profit by providing gambling organizations with inside information about player injuries.
“I met a couple of MLS players who said that their teammates were working for the gamblers, reporting stuff… [to] private gambling syndicates, guys that are actually trying to make money,” said Hill.”They wouldn’t be fixing, they would just provide them with information, useful if you try to beat the bookmakers.
‘So and so is going have a strain and don’t worry, this guy will be back from injury sooner,’ and they were on the gambler’s payroll for that.”
Fines collected are donated to MLS W.O.R.K.S., Major League Soccer’s community outreach initiative dedicated to addressing important social issues affecting young people and serves as a platform for both League and club philanthropic programs.
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