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Clint Dempsey could face lengthy suspension after ripping up referee’s notebook

photo by Joe Nicholson/USA Today Sports


Clint Dempsey lost his cool in a major way on Tuesday, and could wind up paying a much steeper price than he could have imagined.

Dempsey was ejected from the Seattle Sounders’ 3-1 extra time loss to the Portland Timbers in the U.S. Open Cup for taking referee Daniel Radford’s notebook out of his pocket during a stoppage in play and ripping it up. The Sounders had three players sent off in the game at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Washington.

The incident occurred in the 113th minute of the match after fellow Sounders player Michael Azira was given his marching orders. The ejection left Seattle down to eight men and set off Dempsey, who then walked up to Radford and pulled the match official’s notebook out of the front pocket of his shorts before picking it up and tearing it down the middle.

Radford responded by issuing a red card to Dempsey, who had to be restrained by teammates from approaching Radford.

The Sounders’ Designated Player could now face a ban of up to three months for referee abuse, according to U.S. Soccer’s bylaws and policies. He could receive a ban for “assault” of a referee, which includes damaging the official’s personal property.

You can see the incident here:



What do you think about Dempsey’s actions? Think U.S. Soccer will suspend him? What do you think should happen to Dempsey?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Mark LA:

    “Another thing to hate: how media SOP is to report and hype any rule that would result in the most drastic out of proportion punishment possible, and then all the unconscious zombies feeling not-so-secret joy in the prospect of the unfair punishment while preaching a version of “rules are rules”.”

    – Agreed. But isn’t that par for the Internet? This blog?

  2. To those who are calling for a 3-month band or beyond:
    First consider the human aspects of the game: it was a physical, tightly contested elimination match between two rivals, officiated by an official who was, by most accounts, in over his head. The actions taken were insulting and childish, yes, but certainly not violent or threatening, and they were done by a professional athlete who just had a FOURTH child. Put yourself in that situation… Being that frustrated and that overworked, many of us would’ve probably been equally pissed, although may not’ve taken the exact same course of action.

    Second, the major premise used to defend a 3 month ban is a legalistic one, which is shakey at best, even by the letter of the law (see Bac’s comment above). And by the spirit of the law, it shouldn’t be more than any other red card, because he didn’t even put anyone in physical danger.

    Lastly, to those of you who insist on calling this an assault, consider some other red card offenses and bans in the world of soccer, such as Luis Suarez… If anything should be considered an assault and worthy of a three month ban, it’s dangerous and malicious stuff like that, not ripping up a notebook.

    • Alex,

      What Clint did was assault. However, regardless of how it looked , Clint was nowhere near as bad as Neymar.

      He’s a big star so I’m sure he will get off lightly, (see Vidal, Arturo ) but I’ve never seen Clint’s childish actions to be as potentially dangerous as Neymar’s.

      I see where Clint got three games from MLS . Now, we’ll see if the USSF does anything. If anything I see them leaving him out of the preliminary GC rounds and bringing him back for the knockout stages..

      • According to Merriam Webster, the definition of assault is as follows: “a threat or attempt to inflict offensive physical contact or bodily harm on a person (as by lifting a fist in a threatening manner) that puts the person in immediate danger of or in apprehension of such harm or contact.” What Clint did was not assault. If you go by the USSF definition, it could be called assault, but the USSF definition is a specific, concrete, legal definition that was written to prevent referees from the broad concept of “assault,” so invoking that definition to label what Clint did “assault” breaks the spirit of that law, which was founded in the real definition of the word.

        And I agree, I totally see the three MLS games, but apparently there can’t be any kind of official sanction as far as a ban from the MNT is concerned, just a ban from the USOC or an additional fine. Which makes sense, he committed the foul as a Sounders player, so a suspension that affects his ability to play for a separate entity doesn’t make sense. But further than that, he doesn’t deserve more than what he’s already got, plus the something light from the USSF anyway; banning him from the MNT would be ludicrous

  3. USSF should not allow a totally inept ref who has given 65 yellow cards and 13 reds in his total of 11 games as ref (3 cup games and 8 NASL games and nothing but 4th official experience in MLS) in what is a de facto derby game with two bitter rival MLS teams. Terrible, terrible decision at the organizational level to think this asshat could control a full-on pro game.

  4. Clint Dempsey should NEVER be allowed to play any organized soccer tournaments ever again. He has lost any credibility that he may have had and is no example to young soccer players.
    He should be done. He should not even be allowed to play club soccer anywhere in the world.

    • I completely agree with Chuck. I hate to be the one to say it but Clint Dempsey is a soccer player. He is playing based on his abilities, not because he is a shining light to all the young children of America. While it would be great for him to be a great role model, he first and foremost is a soccer player. That is his job. With any other job, you hire someone because of their credentials, not because you could picture them being the best example to the futures of that profession.

  5. He deserves a lengthy ban. This problem has been brewing in world soccer for a while. You see crowding the ref in almost every match. Soccer needs to look to rugby for help in regards to how players speak to refs. Soccer should also adopt the yellow card gets a player off sent off for 10 minutes to cut down on cynical cards.

  6. Dempsey trots around the pitch like gods gift to the MLS, diving to the ground and rolling about, expecting the whistle every time. He was mad about not receiving a penalty the play before and just pitched a tantrum. I hope he sits all summer and reflects on what it means to exhibit some class. He’s a USMNT player, he represents the Stars and Stripes, he should be better than acting like my toddler at nap time. Maybe he can use his down time to record another chart topping rap album.

  7. Grant Wahl says they are deciding if it’s Ref Abuse or Ref assault.
    He said Abuse is a 3 game suspension, and assault is 6 games minimum, he also said the 3 months rule applies to amateurs, which is hazy because he’s not an amateur but it was the Open Cup. Then MLS will have to decide what to do.
    It will be conflictorated like everything and he’ll get 3 games and a fine. Maybe JK takes away the armband.
    Then the interwebs will explode
    Somehow JK will get blamed
    Lalas will throw a hissy fit no matter what the outcome
    Twellman will follow suit and say what Lalas says but in a different way
    Then he’ll do something good like score in the Gold Cup or the Copa America and everyone’s life will go on until the interwebs has to find another villain

    • Bravo Bravo!!!
      Bac, you did it!!! Brought reason to an unreasonable blog.

      Thanks for the insight well stated.

    • Bac,

      In 2012 at the USMNT January Camp, Jermaine Jones was in attendance.

      Normally the Euros are playing and don’t come to these but JJ had been banished to the outer darkness for “Violent Conduct”, intentionally stomping on Marco Reus’ already injured foot. It was a 8 game suspension, which was a very big deal in the BL at the time.

      So JJ had a little free time on his hands. Not only did he attend the camp but JK made him captain for the game following the camp. I thought it was a great idea and JJ was a marvelous captain..

      This is a different time and circumstance but don’t be so sure about Clint losing that armband over this..

  8. Many soccer pundits are calling for a three month ban for the assault on the note book. Here’s their argument for a ban on Jose Mourinho for his physical assault, on a human,.eye gouge, on Tito Vilanova……………………………………………………………………..None
    There wasn’t any call for a ban. And even when the two match ban was lifted, the pundits respectfully remained silent about their Special One.

  9. Another thing to hate: how media SOP is to report and hype any rule that would result in the most drastic out of proportion punishment possible, and then all the unconscious zombies feeling not-so-secret joy in the prospect of the unfair punishment while preaching a version of “rules are rules”.

  10. For the life of me I can’t figure out what compels someone to want to be a referee. Such a thankless job, at all levels. Reduce the suspension to two months for his antics being kinda funny, and make him referee some high school games for a month.


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