PSRA: Dempsey decision 'is a serious step backwards'

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 ban.

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.

16 comments about "PSRA: Dempsey decision 'is a serious step backwards'".
  1. Joe Linzner, June 22, 2015 at 9:07 a.m.

    There is no question Dempsey acted in a petulant and despicably childish manner and has to understand such cannot be tolerated. However, is there no such mechanism in place for a referee. Continual biased calls, missed calls, wrong calls, using cards as a way of controlling a game when they should be a way of ensuring safety to the players all contributed to level of frustration that made a mockery of fair play. How much can be attributed to referee culpability to make the atmosphere during the game combative and loss of respect towards the arbiter. There has to be a mechanism in place to adjudge officiating culpability and how that applies to contributing to in-game conduct.... there is a reason the game becomes combative. Why is this referee not under scrutiny, because the instigator generally gets off and the guy who reacts, gets the card.....Typical, isn't it?

  2. James e Chandler, June 22, 2015 at 9:14 a.m.

    If FIFA wasn't in such a shambles with their Blatter retention problem, they could step in with their own sanctions.
    Perhaps a call to Klinsman can convince him that even though Dempsey's not officially suspended, he doesn't have to play him. No one is bigger than the game itself, and no one's that good that we can't move on without them. Just ask Donovan.

  3. James e Chandler, June 22, 2015 at 9:47 a.m.

    Joe, I disagree with your assessment. This match was adversarial as soon as it was scheduled. Look up some of Sigi Schimd's pre-game comments. Perhaps The referee schedulers put Radcliff on this match because they knew he wouldn't allow egocentric players to bully him without consequence. Either team could have objected to his assignment, but they signed off.
    Have you read "Law 18" that addresses how referee's are to use the tools the Laws provide, and outline player conduct? Players are put in the referee's book for misconduct, i.e., when they act like spoiled brats, or are trying to hurt someone.
    I watched the replay of this match, and multiple times play preceding the match critical events, and I've yet to see any officiating errors so egregious that warrant the harsh criticism, and the assertion that there was bias by the referee is just absurd. Maybe a look in the mirror is appropriate on that issue.
    There is a mechanism in place. Just ask any referee assignor how much forehead rubbing they do each week as they try to match their too small pool of officials with the level of competition. In that sense, referees are vetted every time they are assigned, and if they screw up, they won't get those "tough" games, or perhaps they won't be put in the center, only used on the line just because there's no one else.
    The referees that consistently have good matches, and are physically capable start getting the more challenging assignments.
    Here's another angle. If players would play according to the LOTG, and adhere to the concept of common decency, referees wouldn't even be necessary.
    Regardless of how good or bad the referee is, Dempsey can't make up his own rules just because he doesn't like how events have transpired.
    I've lost a lot of respect for him.

  4. Eric Piazzoni, June 22, 2015 at 9:59 a.m.

    Remember when Luis Hernandez step on a players head, was suspended from US Open Cup for a year, but not from any MLS matches?

  5. Joey Tremone, June 22, 2015 at 10:13 a.m.

    I also have to object to the first assessment here, for many reasons. 1) Yes, there is a mechanism for referees: they are simply not assigned the games, and the vast majority of them are only paid based on the games they're assigned. The only real missing element is the public humiliation to which many aggrieved fans seem to want to subject them. 2) This opinion seems to equate honest mistakes--if one even agrees they were mistakes, which in several cases I don't--with clear moral turpitude. 3) I don't see how we as fans can attribute such incompetence to referees and at the same time impute to them the skill of mind control that would allow them to do the Jedi mind trick on players who want to misbehave.

  6. Michael Saunders, June 22, 2015 at 12:32 p.m.

    Mr. Linzer's is persistent in his perspective as this is the second time he has responded in like manner. He believes that blaming the victim will solve the problem. Well Joe as I stated in an earlier response to your diatribe, justifying violence via your reasoning had been proven to be not only false but the data proves that it only enables the continuance of it. What part of that can you not understand?

  7. Amos Annan, June 22, 2015 at 12:42 p.m.

    Punishment was TOO HARSH. No other sport penalizes players to such a degree for petty little offenses. Referees need to be thicker skinned.

  8. Charles Stamos, June 22, 2015 at 1:39 p.m.

    I disagree with Amos and Joe. Dempsey got the benefit of being an important cog in the USMNT plans. He deserves 6 games. I believe he was given only three games only because of the Gold Cup schedule. I also watched the game replay and Radford called a reasonable and fair game. Dempsey's disdain is even more visible with his abusive gesture to the linesman as he leaves the field. He is acting like the petulant child who deserves, no demands appropriate punishment.

  9. Margaret Manning, June 22, 2015 at 1:48 p.m.

    Yes, I'm sure that the 4000 people in the stadium were all just overeager fans and that the commentators were as well and that Radford was superb.

    Nonsense. The Sounders objected to his assignment. The Sounders objected to the Timbers wearing dark green kits when they were wearing dark grey kits. Both ignored.

    So Radford no doubt had an attitude going into this game as well.

  10. Raymond Weigand, June 22, 2015 at 2:13 p.m.

    Lamar Hunt did what he could to help perpetuate a perfectly wonderful tournament ... a 100+ year tournament tradition filled with the underdog story of soccer ... the amateur vs. the professional, etc etc etc So many stories of one last shot at accomplishment. Of course, the Captain took his best shot at achievement - came up short and just ended up looking more like an amateur - but treated like the $6 million dollar man and given a pair of new legs to stable him and a hand to give a lift back up and some newly keen sight into the role of the Captain.

  11. Mark Landefeld, June 22, 2015 at 3:33 p.m.

    MLS had a 6 match ban rationale available to them -- 3 matches for referee abuse with the center and an additional 1-3 match suspension for the abuse delivered to the AR upon Dempsey's exit from the field, which is a separate incident.

  12. Ryan May, June 22, 2015 at 10:12 p.m.

    I was at the game, came from southern California to Seattle in order to watch it. Because of the ref the game was ridiculously out of control, and he should never ref again. He did nothing to protect the Seattle players from the Timber's fouls, and called everything one way against the Sounders. Because of this the Timbers did a whole lot of diving to the ground which in turn pissed a whole lot of people for their lack of punishment. Radford got what he deserved, if his notebook was the symbol of his professionalism and credentials to be out there than Dempsey only did what everyone else at the game wanted to. He hid at half field waiting for his police escort after the game because he knew he did the home team a disservice.

  13. Mike Jacome, June 23, 2015 at 10:58 a.m.

    @James Chandler "This match was adversarial as soon as it was scheduled. Look up some of Sigi Schimd's pre-game comments." This is the most heated soccer rivalry in the US, what you expect? They should have sent an experience referee, period.
    Ripping of a referee's notebook is light years away from assaulting (attacking physically) a referee, so the three games ban is to my eyes if unfair, nothing by excesive.
    And finally, stop already with the whining, it's not what you think it is, it's what the diciplinary commision after reviewing the facts and annalyzing the mitigating or agravating circumstances believe is appropiate, other than that is just a bunch of childish sore losers and whinners, like this PSRA people who instead of police themselves up are now after a witch hunt.

  14. Bud Freeman, June 23, 2015 at 2:35 p.m.

    Dempsey suspension well deserved… Should've been the full six games. Definitely assault as well as abuse of Referee! Very poor behavior for a team captain...
    Hopefully US soccer will take disciplinary action!

  15. Kily Gonzalez, June 23, 2015 at 5:38 p.m.

    Don't want to again see him wearing a captain's armband. He's been blessed with just about all of the best experiences a US player can have in this game. He's only perhaps bested in game/match/club/national experiences in totality by GK Tim Howard for a US player. Mr. Dempsey let his fans down in a big, big way. When do these guys ever understand the role model function that one is to have once over 30 and being specifically courted and selected to be the franchise and, yes, league standout marquee name? One sure wonders what has passed through Mr. Dempsey's head through all these past 13 years of pro experiences. I guess we fans never learn. Even in the twilight of a good pro career, they are just petulant, ingrate, overpaid selfish, and immature. (In other words: "Mammas don't let your sons grow up to be pro athletes.")

  16. Santiago 1314, June 23, 2015 at 10:36 p.m.

    @ Kily,... Correcta Mundo...There is only 1 Blessed One to Look up to..

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