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USL Supplemental Discipline Explained

The USL sometimes has to take action after the match is finished. Here are the guidelines.

Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images

One of the best parts about being a sports fan is passing judgement on the decisions made by players, coaches, and referees in the public eye. In soccer, that often means second-guessing discipline, or the lack thereof, in the course of the match. But the tangible consequences of what happens on the pitch and the sidelines can’t always be dealt with in the moment.

One example of how this is handled by the USL is an incident that recently took place in Arizona, when a straight red issued during the game was followed a few days later by an additional one-game suspension. These decisions, as well as those determined in real time, are compiled and released weekly by the league, in response to the previous week’s events and how they affect upcoming matches.

When I reached out to the league for an understanding of which incidents get reviewed further, I was offered the following statement by Vice President of Competition & Operations, David Wagner:

The USL has the ability to review any incident that was not seen by the match officials and implement supplemental discipline. The USL’s current policy is that we will not re-referee matches. This means that we will not supplement a referee’s judgement and add discipline to an incident which the referee crew felt did not warrant it. The main reason for this policy is we do not feel comfortable with the current technology across the league that we will have a consistent platform to correctly review all of these decisions. Moving forward as we continue to upgrade our league technology we plan on reviewing these decisions.

In short, incidents seen by the referee and issued yellow or less will not be further acted upon by the league. A common example would be a bad tackle that receives a yellow when some fans may have called for red. That call will stand. However, as referees do not see everything that takes place on the pitch, and cannot issue discipline more severe than a red card and its immediate consequences, the league does step in on occasion. This policy has been consistent across the USL for at least the past two seasons.

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