In response to MLS suspending Seattle Sounders forward Clint Dempsey
for only three games, the Professional Soccer Referees Association, which represents pro
soccer referees in the United States and Canada, issued a statement condemning the punishment as "a light slap on the wrist."
MLS announced Friday that it had suspended Dempsey for three
games and fined an undisclosed amount by MLS for his conduct in ripping up the notebook of
referee Daniel Radford
during overtime of Tuesday's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match against the Portland Timbers.
He'll be precluded from
participating in any soccer competition until the suspension has expired, but he won't miss any national team action.
PSRA issued a statement tweeted
by ESPN FC's Jeff Carlisle
"PSRA is deeply disappointed with the decision of MLS to give Mr. Dempsey a light slap on the wrist by suspending him for a mere three games following a report of both referee assault and
abuse as those terms are defined under applicable policies. This type of conduct toward any Referee is a direct threat to the integrity of the game, and should not be tolerated under any
circumstances. The ceremonial discipline issued by MLS not only fails to deter such reprehensible conduct going forward, it conveys the message that a player can physically engage, destroy
property and threaten a Referee and suffer minimum consequences. In late 2014 MLS was moving in the right direction in their response to referee assaults. Unfortunately, this is a serious
step backwards. Referee safety is an important issue at all levels of the game and MLS should have used its high profile position to lead rather than regress."
MLS had jurisdiction to review the incident and levy sanctions per Policy 202(1)(H)-2 in
the U.S. Soccer Policy Manual. Dempsey will have been found to have committed Referee Abuse, which carries a three-game suspension, but not Referee Assault, which would have carried a six-game
Dempsey will serve his suspension during the next three Sounders matches, beginning with Saturday's game they lost at home to San Jose, 2-0.
He'll be able to join the national team for its Gold Cup tuneup July 3 against Guatemala in Nashville, Tennessee. A six-game ban would have put him out of the Gold Cup through the quarterfinals.
U.S. Soccer will impose any Open Cup suspension separately.