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More on MLS tweaks for 2013: Stay on the bench; hands down; leave officials alone

Feb 27, 2013, 3:15 PM EST

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Steven Goff’s report went beyond mass confrontations, though that was the big one. The Washington Post’s reporter relayed a few other tweaks, all of which come down to enforcing certain standards of in-game (or, in one case, around the game) conduct.

In short: (a) Stay on the sidelines until you’re given permission to do otherwise; (b) Never (like, ever) make contact above an opponent’s shoulders, and; (c) Don’t bird dog the officials.

Or, as Goff more formally puts it:

1. Players, coaches and team personnel, aside from medical staff, are subject to suspension for leaving the bench area and entering the field. (The NBA has a similar rule.)

2. Any action involving a hand to the face or head of an opponent, even a light slap with the purpose of inciting and not injuring, is subject to fine and suspension.

3. A coach or staff member approaching match officials from the time they arrive at the stadium until they depart is subject to fine and suspension.

The third rule hits home for me, mostly because I’ve already used this space to talk about the issue. Following officials down the tunnel to plead your case — after the match is over, when it can’t possibly have an effect — is useless. Actually, that’s the best-case scenario. Often it involves a confrontation in a state of heightened emotion. It always involves the implication of physicality.

Not all players impose themselves when arguing with officials, but often, you have a world-class athlete infringing on the space of somebody who should be off-limits. Nothing good can come from that dynamic. While not all world-class athletes are that physically imposing, the rules for Kenny Cooper have to be the same as those for David Ferreira.

If an official royally blew a call, it’s often reflexive to yell and plead and potentially insult. But there’s no reason to precipitate a physical confrontation by getting in an official’s face. If your complaints are so important that you’re willing to resort to that, take your case to the league. Your on-field appeals will never work.

Jeff Agoos, MLS’s director of competition, told the Post the new rules intend to “make the game more entertaining and less of a spectacle [in terms of] the things around it.”

I don’t if they’ll work, but the changes certainly won’t hurt.

  1. pensfan603 - Feb 27, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    Why would you want to be tthe NBA, god the mls is being stupid. THe NBA’s ratins are taking a uge dive of late hwy cause they are using stupid rules that make it so players cant show intensity into the game which makes the games terrible and the product bad, I agree with the 3rd rule, that coaches should be talking to the refs outside of the alotted time in the game, and i agree that if yuor a coach dont come on the field, but god you arent allowed to touch your opponents head now god this is terrible. and rule 3 in a way goes against fifa regulations which is just sad. It says in ref hand books that players and coachs are suppose to confront refs about ingame fouls at halftime, and after the game, so the ref can help answer questions the coachs and players know what the refs are calling, if the refs can explain why they are calling things may be you should question the refs, im ok with that coaches shouldnt be coming up to them off the field and such, but as a ref it is your job to explain why you are making calls to the refs and players, after the game and during half time and if you cant, why are you making these calls, i mean granted coaches and players are screaming at the refs during the game, but the refs dont have to answer then, its during these alotted times that they are required to, i know most players dont go up to the refs and asked, but if you arent giving players the opertunity you arent holding your refs accountable, and it just seems like the mls is trying to defend their refs instead of getting good ones.

    So looks like MLS is going against fifa regs fun.

    • wfjackson3 - Feb 27, 2013 at 4:27 PM

      I couldn’t possibly disagree with you more. For starters, it doesn’t say they WILL be fined if they go ask them a question, it says they are SUBJECT to fines. This means sometimes but not always. It is pretty obvious that they want to prevent people from just harassing the refs, WHICH IS GOOD. It encourages sporting behavior and sets a professional tone. That isn’t what the NBA does. The NBA is getting terrible ratings because the product is bland. This won’t make the game bland. It won’t reduce the intrigue. It won’t be hockey, but it will keep the focus on the game at hand.

      • pensfan603 - Feb 27, 2013 at 4:58 PM

        its bland because the players dont care the players dont care because of rules that make it so 1. you dont have emotion or 2 you dont care. and if you do you get suspended its exactly what they are doing, is all great to think when they say subject it means they will barely ever do it, but when they say subject really i definatly could see refs using it to get out of having to explain bad calls to coaches, its jsut a stupid rule, if you wanted to get rid of coaches harrassing refs they could of jsut said, “Coach and training staff found to be harrasing refs outside of the field, before or after the game are subject to fines.” but they didnt they made it really shady so any ref can get away with whatever he wants this league has a deep history of protecting bad reffing and they are doing it again

    • florean - Feb 27, 2013 at 5:52 PM

      MLS doesn’t control the refs, US Soccer does. MLS appears to be putting pressure on US Soccer to improve referee quality, but it isn’t an overnight process.
      Yelling at refs does not improve referee quality.

    • CaliforniaRedskins - Feb 27, 2013 at 5:55 PM

      so yelling at refs = caring. probably not a realistic way of looking at things. how many people want to go to the stadium and watch players whine about calls all game long. also, anyone who says that NBA players don’t care has never sat court side or at least a few rows away.

      • joeyt360 - Feb 27, 2013 at 9:05 PM

        Not just unrealistic, I think it’s a little twisted.

      • pensfan603 - Feb 28, 2013 at 8:33 AM

        anyone who says this only watches the playoffs, ive seen so many regular season games were players dont care at all, ya you have a few Anderson Verajeos and Joakim Noahs but no one else tries in that league, look at popovich he never sends his Starts out on Long road trips because to him those games arent important enough and he knows his back ups will give 110% effort whilei his starters wont, anyone who doesnt understand this has mass dillusions about whats going on in the nba.

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