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Portland ball kid correct to deny Mario de Luna

May 15, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

De Luna-ball boy

Well, I am intrigued to hear what you guys think about this one.

Yesterday evening Major League Soccer confirmed that the ball boy at the center of controversy during Saturday’s Portland versus Chivas USA game, acted in the correct manner.

The whole incident occurred late in the second half, when Chivas’ Mario de Luna tried to grab the ball from the ball kid’s grasp and shoved him, after the youngster failed to let go of the soccer ball. Since then, de Luna has come under heavy criticism for his actions, but also the question of whether or not the ball boy acted in the appropriate way has been raised.

Now though, MLS have confirmed the ball kid acted in accordance to their rules found in the league manual.

They shall watch for signals from the referee/match commissioner/field supervisor or ball kid supervisor, to whom they are responsible throughout the game. The ball must be given to the appropriate team, as signaled by the referee (the referee will point his arm in the direction of the goal that the team is attacking to indicate which team has possession).

The key part here is, “the ball must be given to the appropriate team” because the referee and officials had signaled for a throw-in to the Portland Timbers. So the ball kid was just doing his job and holding on to the ball to give it back to a Timbers player.

(More: Oh, good grief! Another MLS ball boy incident?)

So de Luna trying to snatch the ball away from him wasn’t part of the deal and the ball kid, correctly, held onto the ball to try and give it to a Portland player.

Discussion over… Or maybe not.

Should de Luna face extra charges from the MLS Disciplinary Committee this week? He will. That shouldn’t even be a question. So how many games should he be banned for or how much should the fine be?


But let’s be careful to not blow this out of proportion. He acted incorrectly. Chivas USA’s manager apologized straight-away for the incident, the player was yellow carded on the field and maybe a small one or two game ban would be appropriate. Maybe even an order to coach youngsters for a few hours a week in the coming months would be enough.

De Luna knows he was in the wrong. But after Chelsea’s Eden Hazard was banned and lambasted for a similar act earlier this season, the incident has almost been forgotten by many. And cast your mind back to last season when San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch was banned for one game for “aggressively retrieving a ball.” 

Was de Luna’s act worse than that?

  1. digbysellers - May 15, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    He was stupid and lost his mind in the heat of the game. Things get intense down there sometimes and anybody who’s played can at least agree with that. He’ll get a couple games and the working with kids or something is a good idea as well. De Luna knows it was a dumb a$$ thing to do and he’ll take the punishment, sit on his butt a game or two or three (should be no more than than), then be back on the pitch.

  2. watermelon1 - May 15, 2013 at 8:50 AM

    Where I’m from… Best practice is for any ball boys or girls to drop the ball at the place the ball went out of bounds.

    There’s no need for interaction between players and people working the lines.

    • NikoGoes - May 15, 2013 at 11:37 AM

      That may be the norm, but the rules state the ball boy/girl is to only give the ball to a player from the appropriate team. In this case, de Luna is clearly in the wrong. I’m heading to Seattle for the World Cup Qualifier between the United States and Panama, keep up with me on my blog at or on the bird @NikoGoes

    • florean - May 15, 2013 at 5:01 PM

      The ball boy was correctly doing his job. De Luna’s conduct is indefensible. And right before assaulting the ball boy, at 85:22, he pushes over Rodney Wallace off the field of play, who is going for the loose ball that ends up on the ground right next to the ball boy. He should have gotten a yellow just for that. I’ve only seen a consecutive second yellow for dissent, but arguably de Luna deserved them. Sure, the ball boy could have shirked his duties and just dropped the ball, but criticizing him for doing his job is blaming the victim.

  3. dfstell - May 15, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    Two games for being a jerk.

  4. geojock - May 15, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    Oh course the league can quote some rule about how nothing was wrong. I have seen them do the same thing a hundred times to defend their referees. The kid had no idea which way the possession was. He got bailed out because it happened to be Portland’s ball.

    My opinion does not change. The ball boy was being a brat (despite not breaking any rules). De Luna was a little overly aggressive to try and get the ball and pushed the kid to separate the ball. The same way he would do with another player on the field.

    We want these players to be mentally prepared and play at the highest level in front of thousands of fans, and then expect them to come back down to earth at the flip of a switch.

    • lunasceiling - May 15, 2013 at 9:59 AM

      “The kid had no idea which way the possession was.”

      And you know this how? The ball kid was looking out onto the field, and the referee would have been in his field of vision. It seems more likely that he did see the possession indication.

    • chadmoon1 - May 15, 2013 at 11:11 AM

      Playing sports, even professionally, does not excuse boorish behavior. If he were to push a player on the field in such a way, it would be a foul and possibly a card. And the ballboy’s job is to know which direction the ball is going to go, so he did it correctly.

      • florean - May 15, 2013 at 5:02 PM

        He did push a player, but off the field of play, which is worse. At 85:22, he pushes Rodney Wallace to the ground while Wallace is chasing down the loose ball. He deserved two yellows for his conduct.

    • smorris793 - May 15, 2013 at 12:31 PM

      “My opinion does not change” Right, because why should anyone change their opinion upon learning new information? Ignorant prick. And I don’t care what level you ply your trade at, shoving a child is wrong. Period. End of discussion.

    • @C_Tobin - May 15, 2013 at 7:01 PM

      Did you watch the replay provided by the league?

      The referee was directly in line with the ball boy’s line of site pointing Portland’s direction. He was not “being a brat”, he was doing exactly what he was told to do. The league and ball boy were not bailed out because the kid was actually paying attention.

      Watch the video.

      The kid is fine, De Luna was stupid. One game suspension, done.

  5. charliej11 - May 15, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    Suspend him a game for being an idiot. Why he thought that was his ball is beyond reason.
    Maybe he was trying to stall while losing.

    Either way, suspend him for a game.

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