Portland Timbers players just can’t get any respect from the MLS Disciplinary Committee.
For the third time this season (Hayner Mosquera, Troy Perkins and now Kosuke Kimura), a Timbers player has been struck in the face resulting in facial injuries and concussion-like symptoms and nothing has been done by the MLS Disciplinary Committee.
I probably wouldn’t have commented at all about this, but I saw a tweet this morning from @Greener105, pointing out an article by Paul Gardner from Soccer America (“Why did MLS ignore Cahill’s elbow?“).
After reading the article I wanted to see some video of this incident but couldn’t find any. On their Video Highlights page, MLS has lots of short videos from the match but no video of this incident. Interestingly, there’s a video of Mosquera’s “handball” that wasn’t called, but nothing on a dangerous play which knocked a player out of the match. Incidentally, there’s nothing in the match highlights either.
So I went to my account on MLS Live and pulled up the match to watch that part of it again. Here’s some screen caps I took of the play:
Cahill’s arm and elbow is already being raised to ward off Kimura. Note that referee Jasen Anno is watching the play.
Cahill makes contact with Kimura’s face and Anno is still watching…
Another angle. Hello Jasen, are you watching? You appear to be.
Cahill makes contact and Anno definitely witnessed the arm/elbow striking Kimura.
As Paul Gardner points out in his article:
“This is surely exactly the sort of incident the DisCom should pounce on. The DisCom’s Principles and Parameters include a statement that, in cases where the referee sees an incident but does not act … the Committee will not in general issue a suspension, unless … “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.”
He goes on to add:
“So we arrive at the secret hearings of the anonymous DisCom. I find it very, very difficult to credit that the committee would not have looked into this incident. And having looked, that it would not take action. Which raises some awkward questions for DisCom.”
Being that this is the 3rd time this has happened to a Timbers player this season, I agree that it does raise some important questions for MLS and the Disciplinary Committee.
I’m not a big conspiracy guy but not having the highlights on their website is definitely interesting. With all the inconsistencies and controversies so far this season in the MLS Disciplinary Committee’s decisions (timing of suspension announcements, David Beckham, Brek Shea getting 3 games for kicking a ball at a referee, etc…), I can’t help but wonder if they just looked at video of the incident and saw Tim Cahill stopping play on his own to rigorously defend himself of any wrongdoing, thereby indicating it wasn’t done on purpose. Below is the screen cap I took of Cahill indicating that Kosuke Kimura took a “dive” on the play.
If part of the point of the MLS Disciplinary Committee is to protect players involved in dangerous play, then it’s dropped the ball badly here. According to the Laws of the Game, Interpretations of Rule 12 (Fouls and Misconduct), Tim Cahill appears from video and photographic evidence to have actively engaged in the following:
Impeding the progress of an opponent
Impeding the progress of an opponent means moving into the path of the opponent to obstruct, block, slow down or force a change of direction by an opponent when the ball is not within playing distance of either player.
All players have a right to their position on the field of play, being in the way of an opponent is not the same as moving into the way of an opponent.
Shielding the ball is permitted. A player who places himself between an opponent and the ball for tactical reasons has not committed an offence as long as the ball is kept within playing distance and the player does not hold off the opponent with his arms or body. If the ball is within playing distance, the player may be fairly charged by an opponent.
Notice there’s no mention of intentionality there. How does kicking a ball in the direction of a referee (Barry Robson & Brek Shea) get punished more than for an incident injuring a player and knocking them out of the match and possibly future matches? If the Committee is looking at incidents based on intentionality of the action, then they’re missing the boat. If the MLS Disciplinary Committee is going to continue its’ work, it seriously needs to consider being more transparent and open about how it reaches decisions.