A Club may request a review of a send-off to rectify a case of serious and obvious error of the disciplinary decision of the Referee.
Within twenty-four (24) hours of the completion of a match, Clubs must send written notice on club letterhead to the Vice President, Competition detailing the rationale for the appeal and include any and all evidence (e.g., video, photography, written statements, other) supporting the appeal.
The Major League Soccer Players Union (“MLSPU”) will have the right to veto any appeal involving a player. As such, it is strongly recommended that a Club engage the player in the decision-making process as early as possible.
Appeal to review a Send-Off Decision:
Prior to the start of the MLS League Season, Clubs must post a $25,000 refundable bond with the League Office for the right to make up to two (2) unsuccessful appeals.
If an appeal is upheld (i.e., successful), then the send-off punishment will be rescinded.
If an appeal is rejected, then the send-off punishment (and any supplemental discipline should it be administered by the MLS Disciplinary Committee) will stand and the Club will have lost one of its two allotted appeals for the Season.
If an appeal is deemed frivolous by the Ruling Body that reviewed the case, then the bond will be forfeited and the Club will further lose the right to appeal any other decisions in that League Season and the next one. Further, the send-off punishment of the player or coach/staff member will be doubled (i.e., an automatic suspension of two (2) games).
Red Card; Second Yellow Card – An independent three (3) member panel comprised of one (1) member of US Soccer, one (1) member of the Canadian Soccer Association and one (1) member of PRO (MLS does NOT sit on this panel) will oversee the review of any player appeal.
Coach/Staff Dismissals – The MLS Disciplinary Committee, not the independent panel, will oversee the review of any coach/staff appeal.
Outlined below is the procedure that will be applied to the review of send-offs.
The applicable Ruling Body will review the appeal from the Club and determine, based on all available evidence (e.g., video, testimony, etc.):
Did the referee correctly identify the offense in accordance with the Laws of the Game?
Is the disciplinary sanction applied appropriate for the offense?
If the answers to questions 1 and/or 2 are YES, then the appeal is NOT upheld (i.e., unsuccessful) and the Ruling Body will determine whether the appeal was frivolous in line with the definition below:
A frivolous appeal is one that does not contain any objective rational basis. In other words, an appeal is not frivolous if a reasonable observer with knowledge of the Laws of the Game would find that there is a rational basis for arguing that the discipline applied was not appropriate for the offense.
If the answers to questions 1 and 2 are NO, then the appeal will be upheld (i.e., successful).
The decision must be unanimous (including if determining frivolous); where there is any discrepancy on the answer to the first two questions the Ruling Body will review the game tape together and come to a decision. If no unanimity can be achieved then the decision automatically defaults to YES. Remember the Ruling Body is not re-refereeing the game; it is rectifying obvious errors in the referee’s disciplinary decisions. Therefore if it is not OBVIOUS it does not need to be rectified.