Skip to content

Mass confrontation is a complete embarrassment, and MLS is doing something about it

Feb 27, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT

Ricardo Salazar, Marvin Chavez, Tim Ream

Compared to every other league in the world, Major League Soccer proves very proactive. Last year, they formalized an aggressive system of retroactive review. They jumped to the front of the line trying to be guinea pigs for instant replay. And now they’re tackling one of the more annoying issues in world soccer, something they’ve labeled “mass confrontation.”

Just reading those words should immediately conjure an imagine. There’s a disputed call, most likely during a tense moment in the match, and one team starts crowding around a referee. They’re in his face. They’re attacking with numbers. Often, they’re implicitly using their physicality to intimidate.

We saw it yesterday in the Copa del Rey. Andres Iniesta fell in the arc and earned a whistle. Real Madrid disagreed. Next thing you know, Alvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Angel Di Maria, and Gonzalo Higuain are all crowding around Alberto Undiano.

And I know this is going to come as a great shock to you, but Undiano declined to change his call. I know, right? Turns out the mass confrontation was pointless. Who knew?

This year in Major League Soccer, mass confrontation will be worse than pointless. It will be detrimental. From the good work of The Washington Post’s Soccer Insider, Steven Goff:

Troubled by swarms of players disrupting a match, the league’s board of governors has approved a rule that would penalize teams and coaches when three or more individuals confront a referee or opponent.

The MLS disciplinary committee would issue a warning for a first offense. Subsequent incidents would result in a fine for both the club and head coach. The league declined to specify amounts, but multiple sources told the Insider the committee would levy penalties of $5,000 for a team and $1,000 for a coach.

I’d love to see the word “suspension” in here, but I don’t get the feeling there’s the will for that. So this is a good step one. If it doesn’t work, we could see tougher punishment next year.

And if MLS is serious about killing mass confrontations, they’re going to give this more teeth. These fines are not going to change behavior, especially when they don’t hit player pocket books.

But as with anything involving management and labor, this is a process. And as far as processes go, this is a decent first step. Anything to address this inanity would be a decent first step.

Mass confrontation is really one of the worst things that happens between the lines. It’s not the worst, but it’s arguably the most inexplicable. It’s one of the moment where every petty complaint about rich athletes looks justifiable. It’s where you get to see the kind of  immaturity, lack of perspective and spoiled behavior that many people consider endemic to professional athlete culture.

That’s why mass confrontations are so aggravating. You know these guys aren’t really like that, but when they throw these collaborative fits, how do you argue the point? “They’re not normally like this.” No, but they’re like this right now!

Address the issue is another example of Major League Soccer being proactive. A lot of their ability to do that is enabled by their league’s structure, but as we see from other leagues, being proactive about the game isn’t a given with these organizations.

Latest Posts
  1. MLS Snapshot: Real Salt Lake 5-1 Colorado Rapids

    Sep 20, 2014, 12:25 AM EDT

    alvaro_saborio_real_salt_lake AP

    Real Salt Lake demolished the Colorado Rapids, 5-1, at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

  2. WATCH: Real Salt Lake nets five consecutive goals to lead Colorado, 5-1

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:55 PM EDT

    javier_morales AP

    Five consecutive goals have Real Salt Lake ahead of the Colorado Rapids tonight, 5-1.

  3. Premier League Preview: West Ham vs. Liverpool

    Sep 19, 2014, 10:52 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Borussia Dortmund - Pre Season friendly Getty Images

    Preview of West Ham v. Liverpool match on NBC at 12:30 p.m. ET this Saturday.

  4. Watch Live: Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids (Lineups)

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:55 PM EDT

    Edson Buddle, Nat Borchers AP

    Watch Real Salt Lake encounter the Colorado Rapids live on NBCSN or NBC Sports Live Extra at 10:00 p.m. ET tonight.

  5. Premier League Preview: Aston Villa vs. Arsenal

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT

    Arsenal v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    Preview of Aston Villa vs. Arsenal match on NBCSN at 10:00 a.m. ET this Saturday.

  6. Pellegrini, Mourinho have different views on Lampard’s Chelsea exit

    Sep 19, 2014, 8:21 PM EDT

    41361 Getty Images

    Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho hold different rationales about midfielder Frank Lampard’s Stamford Bridge exit this year.

  7. UEFA president Michel Platini to keep gifted watch despite FIFA’s dislike

    Sep 19, 2014, 7:17 PM EDT

    EURO 2016 Steering Committee Meeting Getty Images

    UEFA president Michel Platini doesn’t wish to give into FIFA’s pressure to return a watch gifted to him at the World Cup.

  8. Seattle Sounders ink Nigerian defender Onyekachi Apam

    Sep 19, 2014, 6:31 PM EDT

    Olympics+Day+15+Football+57gftmf5b8fl Getty Images

    Seattle Sounders FC have signed Nigerian defender Onyekachi Apam.

  9. WATCH: Coritiba striker Joel vanishes into hole during goal celebration

    Sep 19, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT

    Joel+Coritiba+v+Chapecoense+Brasileirao+Series+hdtIomrwmOml Getty Images

    Coritiba striker Joel brought out a one-of-a-kind goal celebration vs. Sao Paolo.

  10. Chicharito admires Sir Alex Ferguson for spearheading “European dream”

    Sep 19, 2014, 3:35 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer League Cup AP

    Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez has sung the praises of former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who the forward believed was instrumental in getting himself exposure in Europe.

  11. At “massive” Madrid, Bale hails Spurs fans, mentions possible return

    Sep 19, 2014, 3:06 PM EDT

    Gareth Bale, AP

    Gareth Bale could one day return to Tottenham, but his waxing poetic on White Hart Lane is likely nothing more than political fare.

  12. Van Gaal has interest in Ronaldo, doesn’t think Real Madrid will sell

    Sep 19, 2014, 2:24 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Of course it’s possible that Louis van Gaal could bring Ronaldo to Manchester United, but he doesn’t believe his current team is interested.

  13. WATCH: Ronaldinho’s brutal PK attempt mars Mexican debut

    Sep 19, 2014, 1:46 PM EDT

    Ronaldinho AP

    How many times in his life has Ronaldinho performed this task with flair (or at least adequately)?

  14. Americans Abroad preview: Guzan looks to keep Villa rolling

    Sep 19, 2014, 12:55 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    Tim Howard’s stint as No. 1 USMNT backstop may be on hiatus, but the battle of who’s the top American goalkeeper in the Premier League is on

  15. Premier League Preview: Queens Park Rangers vs. Stoke City

    Sep 19, 2014, 12:05 PM EDT

    niko-kranjcar-qpr-stoke-64064-1928575_613x460

    An even rivalry heads to Loftus Road to start its season series on Saturday, kicking off the Premier League weekend.

  16. WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 5

    Sep 19, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every PL game during Week 5, right here.

  17. Awaiting trial on domestic abuse charges, Hope Solo plays on. Fair?

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

    Mexico v United States Getty Images

    A Washington Post report asks why Hope Solo is being celebrated for her on-field efforts while awaiting the results of her not guilty plea to domestic abuse charges.

  18. Di Vaio seems ready to call time on prolific stint in Montreal, career

    Sep 19, 2014, 10:32 AM EDT

    Di Vaio

    It’s not about the Impact, the CONCACAF Champions League or the club’s record. For Di Vaio, it’s about home.

  19. Benoit Assou-Ekotto suspended for comments on Anelka quenelle gesture

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:25 AM EDT

    Benoit-Assou-Ekotto-tweet-2932591

    Perhaps the investigation took a bit too long, but it seems many athletes did not understand the depths of their joke usage.

Featured video

Breaking down Man City vs. Chelsea