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MLS Disciplinary Committee Principles and Parameters

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

Automatic Suspensions: The MLS Disciplinary Committee will continue to apply the FIFA and U.S. Soccer mandatory and non-appealable automatic one-game suspension for a red card offense for which a player is sent off by the Referee.

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. Any coach dismissed will serve an automatic one-game suspension in the club’s next match. A suspended coach may not be on the sideline during the game but may be in contact with team staff on the sideline and may speak to the team in the locker room beforehand, at halftime, and after the game. The Committee may add suspensions and/or fines if the coach’s actions are deemed to be egregious.

The MLS Disciplinary Committee reviews all games and all incidents that occur during regular season and MLS Cup Playoff games. Clubs, therefore, do not need to request review by the Disciplinary Committee. In determining when it will act, the Disciplinary Committee will use the following parameters:   
1. 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 or reckless nature, or where the Committee believes it must act to protect player safety or the integrity of the game, including in particular but without limitation the dangerous use of elbows, forearms and fists to the head and neck of an opponent.

2. Where the referee does not see the incident and therefore does not have the opportunity to act, the Committee will review any and all evidence and may act to discipline a player (e.g., an off-the-ball offense).

3. Where the referee sees an incident and either does not act, or rules only a foul or only a yellow card (i.e., anything other than 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 the video evidence, a clear and unequivocal red card; AND
•  The play in question is of an egregious or reckless nature, such that the Committee must act to protect player safety or the integrity of the game.
• In determining whether a play is egregious or reckless, all factors are taken into account, including the fact of injury to any player.  Where there is no injury, the Committee will not act except in extraordinary or exceptional circumstances.

4. When a player routinely and regularly commits dangerous offences. When a player routinely and regularly commits dangerous offences, the Committee will:

• Inform both the player’s Club and the MLS Players Union that  his behavior is being monitored.
• Consider supplemental discipline if disregard for player safety persists.
• Institute a “Probationary" period.A player can be cleared of the period with good behavior; consistent with current good behavior  incentive system for yellow cards.

5. In obvious examples of simulation/embellishment.

• Disciplinary Committee must be unanimous in its view of the incident.