Clint Dempsey’s ‘referee abuse’ gets two-year or six-game US Open Cup ban from US Soccer (video)

Posted by | June 25, 2015
Clint Dempsey is sent off in the 112th minute after ripping up the referee's notebook. Photo: Video screengrab

Clint Dempsey is sent off in the 112th minute after ripping up the referee’s notebook. Photo: Video screengrab

UPDATED (6/26/15): Clint Dempsey issued an apology on Twitter.

The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup has been making mainstream media headlines this week, but unfortunately for fans of the competition, it wasn’t the exciting extra time games or the dramatic finishes. The Open Cup video clip (SEE BELOW) that fans saw on ESPN’s Sportscenter was Clint Dempsey of the Seattle Sounders making the bizarre decision to rip up the referee’s notebook and receiving a red card for his troubles.

The drama has finally come to an end today as the US Open Cup Adjudication and Discipline Panel suspended Dempsey for two years, or six matches, whatever is greater. That means, the earliest last year’s championship game MVP can return to the US Open Cup is if his team plays in six total games over the next two years, then he would be eligible in 2018. If his team does not play a total of six games in 2016 and 2017 combined, he will not be eligible until those six games are played. It’s unlikely, but the worst-case scenario would be if his team is eliminated in the opening game of the tournament six years in a row, then he wouldn’t be eligible for 2022. Dempsey would be 39 years old.

He has also been fined an undisclosed amount by the federation. Last week, Major League Soccer handed down a three-game league suspension for the incident.

Dempsey had not spoken publicly about the incident until nine days after the incident, on Thursday, June 25, when he posted on Twitter “I would like to apologize for my actions in the U.S. Open Cup.”

The day after the match, Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid addressed the media to talk about not only his team’s behavior in extra time, and his own reaction to the controversy, but the fans in the stands.

“I’m not happy with my behavior, walking away towards the end of the game,” Schmid said. “No matter what goes on on the field, I have to be better about that. I appreciated our fan support but, as fans, we’ve got to support our team. We can’t go overboard and throw things on the field.”

Last Friday, the decision came from Major League Soccer, who handed down a three-match suspension for Dempsey. His suspension will end just in time for Dempsey to depart for the 2015 Gold Cup.

In the 2014-15 USSF Policy Manual, Policy 202(1)(H)-2 (Professional Leagues Policy Against Referee Assault) three weeks would be the minimum ban required for referee abuse.

“Referee Assault” shall include, but is not limited to: striking, kicking, choking, grabbing or bodily running into a referee; spitting on a referee with ostensible intent to do so; kicking or throwing an object at an official that could inflict injury; or damaging the referee’s uniform or personal property (e.g., car, uniform, or equipment).

The MLS disciplinary committee ruled that it was referee abuse, which is covered as the following:

“Referee Abuse” shall include, but is not limited to: verbal and nonverbal communication which contains foul or abusive language and which implies or directly threatens physical harm; spewing a beverage on or spitting at a referee or the referee’s personal property.

The minimum sentence for abuse is three matches, and the minimum for assault is six, without pay (this can be found in 1(a) and 1(b)), which is what he has received from US Soccer for “damaging the referee’s uniform or personal property.”

Clint Dempsey sent off for ripping referee’s notebook