MLS Disciplinary Committee Principles and Parameters

Mission Statement: To preserve the integrity and reputation of the game and Major League Soccer, and to assist in ensuring player safety.

The Disciplinary Committee will use the following parameters in determining when it can act:

  • Where the referee does not see the incident (e.g., an off-the-ball offense) and therefore does not have the opportunity to act, the Committee will review any and all evidence and may act to discipline a player.
  • Where the referee sees an incident and issues a red card, the Committee may review the play for further disciplinary action, over and above the mandatory suspension and fine. The Committee will add suspensions and/or fines over and above the mandatory one game suspension for those offenses the Committee deems to be of an egregious nature, or where the Committee believes it must act to protect player safety or the integrity of the game.
  • Where the referee sees an incident and does not issue a red card, the Committee will not, in general, issue a suspension, unless:
    • The play in question is, in the unanimous opinion of the Committee from all available video evidence, a clear and unequivocal red card; AND
    • The play in question is of an egregious nature, such that the Committee must act to protect player safety or the integrity of the game.
  • The Committee will automatically review any incident that forces a player to be immediately substituted out of the game due to an injury through contact with an opponent.
  • Disciplinary Treatment When a Player Receives Two Yellow Cards: If a player receives two cautions in the same match, and then receives supplemental discipline on either caution, he will be suspended one match for the red card (two cautions) plus any additional supplemental discipline issued by the Disciplinary Committee (additional fines and/or suspensions which may be one game or greater).
    • If the player receives an additional suspension as supplemental discipline from the Disciplinary Committee on the first caution, the player will serve a multiple game suspension – one (1) game for the automatic suspension from the second yellow plus additional game(s) from the supplemental discipline issued by the Disciplinary Committee. Neither card will be applied to his Yellow Card Accumulation total.
    • If the player receives an additional suspension as supplemental discipline from the Disciplinary Committee on the second caution, the player will serve a multiple game suspension – one (1) game for the automatic suspension from the second yellow card plus any additional game(s) resulting from the supplemental discipline issued by the Disciplinary Committee. The first yellow card will be applied to his Yellow Card Accumulation total. The second yellow card will not be applied to his Yellow Card Accumulation total.
  • When a player routinely and regularly commits dangerous offenses, the Committee will:
    • Inform both the player's Club and the MLS Players Union that his behavior is being monitored.
    • If disregard for player safety or the integrity of the League persists, then the player will be subject to supplemental discipline irrespective of whether the individual incident meets the customary standard.
    • Institute a "probationary" period. A player can be cleared of the period with good behavior (i.e., no yellow/red cards or supplemental discipline) in three consecutive games.
    • Players on warning for violent conduct remain on warning for the remainder of the current season
  • In obvious examples of simulation/embellishment: In the event a player engages in simulation and/or embellishment, he will be fined. However, if such act has a material impact in the match the player will then be suspended and fined. Those instances of simulation and/or embellishment which, by definition, have a material impact on the match are as follows:
    • Opposing player receives a red card (player will be suspended regardless of the Independent Panel Red Card review decision)
    • Opposing player receives a yellow card, provided the caution:
      • Is the player's second yellow card in the match
      • Triggers the player's yellow card accumulation threshold
    • Opposing Team is awarded a penalty kick (player will be suspended regardless of penalty kick conversion)

Coaches and staff:

Red cards are not issued to coaches. Referees may, at their discretion, dismiss a coach or other team staff member from the sideline due to inappropriate behavior during a game. The dismissed coach or staff member will serve a mandatory one-game suspension during the next MLS League match.

Any coach or staff serving a game suspension will not enter the stadium tunnel area, locker rooms or field level ninety (90) minutes before kickoff until the conclusion of the game, at which point he may enter his Club's locker room. He may not sit in the Press Box or grandstands, but can sit in a stadium suite or VIP area. A suspended coach also is not permitted to be in communication with his Team during the course of the game.

Bench personnel may receive supplemental discipline in cases that include, but not limited to, the following:

  • The dismissal of a coach, staff member or player.
  • Coaches that leave the bench to protest an official's decision.
  • Instances in which multiple coaches are standing within technical area
  • Note: Goal celebrations and technical staff engaging in necessary activity will be exempt from this policy (trainer attending to a player, coach signaling substitution to the fourth official).

RELATED: Send-Off Review Procedure

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