MLS suspended New England Revolution midfielder Jermaine Jones for the six games of the 2016 regular season and fined him an undisclosed amount for referee assault. The
suspension would rule Jones, out of contract with the Revs, out of the USA's two March World Cup 2018 qualifiers against Guatemala if he remains in MLS.
The incident took place in
stoppage time of the Revs' play-in match at D.C. United. New England trailed when referee Mark Geiger failed to whistle what should have been a penalty kick for a handball by United defender
Sean Franklin. When Geiger did not call a penalty, Jones raced 30 yards to confront the referee, making contact with him several times. Geiger gave him a yellow card, his second of the game
that earned him a red card. New England lost the game, 2-1.
Geiger's reason for not awarding the penalty was that the "defender's arm was in a natural position. Because of the short distance, there was also no time to react. Case of ball-to-hand." Replays
suggested Franklin's arm was extended when Jones' pass struck off his arm and then his chest.
An early handball penalty was called on Revs midfielder Scott Caldwell though the spot
kick was missed by Chris Rolfe.
Jones is out of contract. If he moved to another league -- the Revs retain his MLS rights -- the suspension would carry over to his first six
competitive matches.Jones is ineligible to play in any soccer competition while serving the suspension. The MLS Players Union appealed the decision on
behalf of Jones, but MLS commissioner Don Garber upheld the six-game suspension.
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The suspension is identical to the one handed to D.C. United
forward Fabian Espindola for assaulting an asssistant referee in the 2014 playoffs. The reason the Argentine played in the 2015 Concacaf Champions League was he had not yet begun serving
his MLS suspension because the season had not yet begun.
After the incident, Jones apologized but insisted a penalty kick should have been awarded.
"I think everybody who came today could see it, it was 100 percent a penalty,” Jones said. “My passion then after maybe went a little bit high, but I think it’s normal. It's
only two minutes to go, and then you’re out. For what happened after, I would say I’m sorry, maybe because I play with the national team it cannot happen, but it happened. People who know
me, they know that I’m not a good loser. In that moment I was really upset, I think if you give Scotty ’s penalty, you have to give this penalty, too.”
-- Sporting Kansas City forward Krisztian Nemeth was suspended for one regular-season match and fined an undisclosed amount for a foul on Portland forward Lucas Melano in
their play-in match the Timbers won on penalty kicks.