Three incidents this weekend are likely to draw further looks from MLS, although they can only do something about two of them. This weekend, Brian Mullan drew a red card for his tackle that broke Steve Zakuani's leg, Jonathan Leathers escaped any in-game punishment for his tackle that broke David Ferreira's ankle and Tony Tchani drew a second yellow card for entering the stands to celebrate with fans. All three are now drawing some scrutiny from the MLS office.
In Mullan's tackle on Zakuani, these guidelines from the MLS Disciplinary Committee's parameters come into play:
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 to contact above the shoulders through the dangerous use of elbows, forearms or fists.
Although Mullan was shown red, the awful challenge didn't just injure Zakuani. It was reckless and with little intent to win the ball. Based on that, Mullan will almost undoubtedly see further suspension from the disciplinary committee. The ruling from the league is expected to come down on Tuesday.
As for Leathers, he did not see a card for his tackle on Ferreira. That does not mean that the Committee cannot review it though.
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 available 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.
Because Leathers' tackle did break Ferreira's ankle, it seems highly likely that the play will at least be reviewed. But it seems unlikely that there will be any disciplinary action. Leathers' tackle did not draw a card for good reason. It was a clean tackle. There was nothing in it that would lead anyone to believe it was malicious and he did win the ball. It was an unfortunate incident because Ferreira's foot was planted and got caught, but that is the nature of the sport at times. There has not been the same kind of outcry surrounding Ferreira's injury, partly because there wasn't anything poor in the tackle besides bad luck.
In a week where tackles and further disciplinary action are the topic of conversation there is another incident that has nothing to do with tackles or injuries and yet the issues is revoking disciplinary action. Tchani was shown his second yellow card and sent off for jumping a fence and celebrating his goal with the home fans, a celebration that the referee deemed impermissible.
Paul Tamberino, MLS's director of competition told the Canadian Press on Monday that Tchani should not have been shown a card for his celebration, saying "In my opinion, the referee could have used better judgment." When asked about whether he should have seen a card, Tamberino said, "I don't, no. I absolutely do not. ... It didn't do anything that would hurt the game."
The rules stipulate that a player should be shown a yellow card for celebration if he climbs a fence to celebrate, but that is aimed at other parts of the world where high fences separate the crowd from the field and players might climb it to incite the fans. The rules also state that a player should see a yellow card if he leaves the field of play to celebrate AND does not return to the field of play as soon as possible.
Tchani certainly left the field of play, but he returned quickly and Tamberino also said that the leaving the field of play rule should have have applied to Tchani.
"It's ironic that from the time Tony scores the goal and returns back to the field, it's 15 seconds," Tamberino said. "It takes the referee 40 seconds to administer the second yellow card."
Unfortunately for Tchani and Toronto FC, the midfielder will still have to sit out the next match as part of his yellow card suspension. According to Tamberino, the rules only allow for red cards to be rescinded in the case of mistaken identity so despite being an acknowledged mistake, the Committee cannot take action.