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SBI Question of the Day: What should Clint Dempsey’s punishment be?



The pending punishment faced by U.S. Men’s National Team captain and Seattle Sounders star Clint Dempsey should surface at some point today, and there seems to be a wide range of opinions on just what should happen to Dempsey for tearing up a referee’s notebook in the middle of a match.

Early reports suggested Dempsey is obligated to sit a minimum of three months in all competitions, but further investigation revealed that the three-month punishment is not the minimum based on the established guidelines as they pertain to this particular incident.

In my latest piece, I took a closer look at the situation, and what will be a more likely punishment for Dempsey. A three-match ban in MLS play and one-year suspension from the U.S. Open Cup seems like a reasonable punishment for Dempsey, with MLS set to announce by today just what the punishment will be (U.S. Soccer will decide on his U.S. Open Cup punishment at a later date).

Here is the question for SBI readers. What do you think would be a fair punishment for Dempsey? Cast your vote after the jump:

[polldaddy poll=8940512]

What punishment did you vote for? Think he should be punished harshly, or think having him miss any of the Gold Cup would be too severe?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Since grabbing a ref is listed under the same clause for assaults as grabbing property, lets give Dempsey the same penalty administered for grabbing a ref.

    Oooh, most of the time that is one game or nothing at all.

  2. We’re so much better with MB as captain. The whole mentality of the team is different when MB is the focal point. So I’d rather Deuce not be available to captain the nats at the GC. Let the team maintain the momentum with MB as captain…I’m going for three months suspension.

    At this point, is there anybody outside of Nacogdoches who wants Deuce to remain captain over MB…now is the time to make the move.

  3. Is there any precidence for any of this? Didnt Espindola get 6 games for bping into a ref..closest i can think of.

    If thats the case id say 6-8 games in all comps. Seattle has 4 games before Gold Cup, then the Guatemala game and the 3 group stage games (8)

  4. U.S Open Cup = U.S Soccer = MLS (among other leagues), he should be punished hard. That might as well have been a slap in the face to the referee. Lets not be a joke like CONMEBOL and the Neymar fiasco. US Soccer already has an overly dramatic girl in Hope Solo, we dont need another one. give dempsey some milk, it helps with pms.

  5. As much as I know that this kind of behavior can not be tolerated in any way shape or form………………………. I can not lie… I also felt quite satisfied… like Clint was channeling me and what I would want to do watching that, and more than a few other MLS matches as well.

    Clint’s actions need to be dealt with. As does MLS officiating. Behind the scenes, they need to do a little self examination and get their own house in order. Has a huge effect on the credibility and quality of the league.

    • MLS officiating? LOL. It was NOT a MLS game, and I don’t believe that ref has ever head officiated an MLS game.

      • LoL Yeah… quite true. The post was absurd from the beginning and I knew it writing it. Reveals my knee-jerk response, frustration with and disdain for MLS refs. Bad as they are, CONCACAF refs are often worse. And unfortunately…. I don’t see CONCACAF doing any kind of self examination and overhaul of officiating….. maybe ever.

        MLS still needs to do something. Ha!

  6. Well, MLS and US Soccer had an opportunity to step out front of the “referee abuse” issue that seems prevalent everywhere these days and stumbled instead.

    How on Earth does ripping up the ref’s notebook escape the definition of referee abuse (destruction of the ref’s personal property)?

    I like Clint and certainly would rather have him on the GC squad than not but, he should have gotten at least the minimum mandatory punishment of 3 months. Deserved to have the book thrown at him for a such a stupid and disrespectful act.

    MLS might have deemed this as throwing the book at him but, the book was made by Nerf.

  7. Apparently the MLS decision is in.

    Three matches. That’s it.

    Which also won’t impact on his participation in Gold Cup, although I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

    You just have to laugh.

    • So much for the “three months for referee assault” rule people were citing a few days ago.

      And so much for our collective assumption that MLS is subject to USSF.

      • Actually, according to the very USSF Policy Manual cited by MLS, shouldn’t it be a minimum six-game suspension for referee assault?

      • That’s what I would have thought. In their statement, the USSF handwaves why they’re deferring to MLS. And MLS, of course, was never going to seriously punish one of their revenue drivers.

    • I wonder if they were going to give him the 6 match ban similar to Espindola, but offered him a deal. Miss the three games and forfeit three games worth of pay so you can play in the gold cup. It would be similar to what the Steelers did for Bell. He could have had a max 4 game suspension but only got three after forfeiting a games worth of pay.

  8. Players should never be allowed to do that to the refs, no matter how bad they are. This ref clearly was horrible but that does not mean players can disrespect them to that level. Clint Dempsey hurt his team by doing this, he needs a punishment of 6 MLS games and at least a year of Open Cup. MLS needs to make it clear that they don’t play favorites and every player must respect the refs- it’s that simple.

    • Agreed. There is entirely too much mobbing of the ref. With regard to CD, just follow the rules. No exceptions. His fault. Maybe a bit more than the minimum given that he actually destroyed property, something explicitly prohibited.

  9. I’m on Dempsey’s side here–I loved what he did. Having said that, it was absolutely disgusting and unacceptable behavior. They need to bring the hammer down, HARD. MLS is under the U.S. Soccer umbrella, so he should get a momth-long MLS ban and perhaps be banned from the rest of this current U.S. Open Cup run. I think that’s harsh enough to make a point without going overboard.

  10. I’m all for 6 MLS matches (Gold Cup until the semis) and one year U.S. Open Cup. I’m a Dempsey fan but what he did was ridiculous and his star power should be used to send a message – not buy him a softer punishment. From the USMNT perspective, it may be better for the team long-term if Dempsey isn’t on the Gold Cup squad. Give the armband to a legit captain (Bradley) and give the younger forwards some experience in a big tournament (this assumes Wondo wouldn’t be his direct replacement). If the U.S. doesn’t win the Gold Cup, Dempsey will probably be available for the Confederations Cup play-in match.

    • Are you suggesting an MLS suspension and a USMNT suspension? Because an MLS suspension doesn’t affect USMNT availability for Gold Cup.

  11. 1 year of jail time.

    No, I think Ive’s suggestion is fair. But I could also see US Soccer taking it a bit further and suspending him for 3 international games. Which would make him available for the last Gold Cup group game and in the knock rounds which matter.

  12. i chose “3 months for all competitions” because that’s how the written policy reads to me, and that’s the minimum suspension allowed.

    and then i think they should revisit that policy; that’s a really harsh penality for simply ripping up a piece of equipment.

  13. If they are going to hang Demps then I think they need to investigate and possibly suspend the ref also. Five red in one match is ridiculous whether they were on accumulated yellows or straight red, he clearly lost control of the game and the entire stadium.

    • There were only 3 red and, from what I can tell, all deserved. Seattle was missing a fourth player due to use of all available subs and then having another injury.

    • Two yellows on Evans were clear, he didn’t argue either one.

      Then Azira elbows a guy in the face and lands cleat on shin. Maybe accidental but not much you can argue (and ridiculous that people are even suggesting it was a flop).

      Then Clint goes ballistic.

      Tell me which call is ridiculous. And how the hell does the ref “control” the stadium? If a-hole fans want to throw debris at the other team’s players, there’s nothing to stop them except common decency, which clearly they didn’t have.

  14. The poll asks us what we think the punishment should be.

    I think another interesting poll would be “what do you think USSF will decide?” and “what do you think MLS will decide?”

    I mean, I think he should be punished pretty severely — you don’t mess with the referees. But I can’t imagine that MLS is actually going to do anything significant to him. MLS is a business, first and foremost, and so they’re going to be guided by what makes the most business sense.

    • True but it’s not like 3-6 regular season matches isn’t going to kill Seattle. Even though the timing is pretty poor for them, with Martins out and this running into the Gold Cup. However then a lot of teams will also be missing players then.

    • Agreed, it should be strong and that IS strong.

      He didn’t assault anyone, he ripped up the refs paper.

      • 1. By the bylaws, that *is* assault on a referee. It says so verbatim.

        2. By assessing a far weaker sanction than they could have, MLS sends a clear message: this sort of action towards a referee is not a big deal. Or at least, it isn’t a big deal when a DP who plays for the national team does it.

        In the end, MLS is a business, and they made the decision that made the most business sense. They couldn’t get away with giving him a free pass; but there’s no way they were going to hurt either their own revenues or the national team by giving him a significant penalty.

  15. I voted for the 3 MLS games and 1 year US Open Cup. Needs to be strong to send a message that the conduct is unquestionably not acceptable, but not so harsh as to cripple the team for the MLS season.

    I also think the Sounders should be forced to play all games in the Open Cup AWAY for at least 2016 if not also 2017 due to the fans behavior.


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