When the Seattle Sounders were reduced to eight men during their US Open Cup 4th Round Tie with the Portland Timbers, Clint Dempsey did something that many a player has wanted to do over the years. He snatched the notebook (or a card) from the referee, tossed it at the ground, picked it up, ripped it up and then promptly received his own red card.
Right before our eyes, Dempsey’s rush of blood to the head became one of the more memorable meltdown moments I have witnessed watching this game. Eric Cantona going airborne to kick a fan at Crystal Palace, and Zinadine Zidane’s head butt in the World Cup Final might have been on grander stages but in all my years watching this game I have never seen a player snatch and destroy something from a referee in a fit of rage.
Refereeing standards might not be great in this neck of the woods, but the referees do need to be respected and protected. USSF Policy is clear. An assault upon a referee is described as following:
And the penalty of a proven assault is:
This is assuming that the USSF deem a rage fueled shredding of equipment to be ‘slight’. I think it probably is. Will Dempsey get the three month suspension the USSF documents imply he should? This is the million dollar question. With the Gold Cup looming this presents a considerable Catch-22 to the USSF who need to protect their officials and ensure their own law is applied, however they no doubt also want one of their biggest national team stars available at a crucial time.
At a time when we are looking to see our governing bodies act in the interests of the game and not themselves I wonder just how this cookie will crumble. I don’t want Dempsey to be banned for three months, but he really should be.
You can find the USSF Policy Manual here, you are looking for section Policy 531-9.