Mastroeni Responds to Questionable Suspension Decision From MLS Disciplinary Committee

NEW YORK - (Colorado Rapids Media Relations)- (This Story Updated 5/5/05) Reactions were revealed today from Rapids Team Captain Pablo Mastroeni and Rapids Head Coach Fernando Clavijo to the Major League Soccer Disciplinary Committee's descision yesterday to suspend and fine Mastroeni following an incident in dispute from Saturday night's match.

The MLS Disciplinary Committee had announced yesterday that Colorado Rapids midfielder Pablo Mastroeni has been fined $1000 and will be suspended for the next two MLS regular season games for violent conduct displayed in the 88th minute of the Rapids' 3-1 loss to the MetroStars on Saturday April 30 2005.

(Was the suspension justified? Judge for yourself by watching video of the incident by CLICKING HERE. Turn down the volume on your speakers if you don't want to hear the biased commentary of the MetroStars announcers!)

In the closing minutes of Saturday's match Mastroeni was held by MetroStars forward Abbe Ibrahim who grabbed Mastroeni's jersey in an attempt to slow his run into the box. In an attempt to break free of Ibrahim's illegal hold Mastroeni swung his left arm back while running into the penalty area striking Ibrahim in the face.

Despite the fact that the incident in question took place directly in front of the referee the incident was not seen by the officiating team and no foul was called during the match.

The MLS Disciplinary Committee later reviewed the play and issued the fine and suspension against the 28-year-old due to what they considered the "violent nature of the action."

There has been no word on whether the MLS Disciplinary Committee will also penalize Ibrahim any caution points or cards as a result of his jersey-pulling infraction which was also not witnessed by the referee during the match.

The Denver Post reported Wednesday that Mastroeni said after Saturday's match he didn't expect to be punished because Ibrahim had a hold of his jersey and he only snapped his arm back in an effort to free himself.

(Read the entire Denver Post article by clicking here).

In an interview with the Rocky Mountain News Thursday Mastroeni 28 said he believes the episode is not being represented correctly.

"It was an inadvertent elbow not even an elbow - I hit him with my forearm said Mastroeni who practiced with his teammates Wednesday. "It was so light that I didn't even know that I made contact with the guy. I was simply trying to move his arm off my shoulder twice.

"The second time that forearm could have hit him in the chest hit him in the shoulders. It just happened to hit him in the face. . . . I think those kind of plays happen a dime a dozen while a corner is taking place."

Rapids coach Fernando Clavijo said he spoke with the league office about the episode and voiced polite dissent.

"The decision with Pablo I completely disagree Clavijo said. "There's nothing I can do about it the Rocky Mountain News Reported.

(Read the entire Rocky Mountain News article by clicking here).

The suspension issued to Mastroeni will be appealed. The Rocky Mountain News also reported that Mastroeni was scheduled to have a conference call Wednesday with commissioner Don Garber in which Mastroeni hoped to make the case that he was trying to free himself from Ibrahim's holding tactics on the corner kick.

Mastroeni believes his appeal might be one of the first under MLS' new contract with its players.

"It came about with the collective-bargaining agreement Mastroeni said of the first such accord for the league which was signed late last year. "Last year there really wasn't an appeal process so we're taking steps forward anyway."

Under terms of the agreement the commissioner can uphold decrease or eliminate Mastroeni's punishment but he cannot increase it. After hearing Mastroeni plead his case Garber will issue a written decision that is binding.

Should the suspension be upheld Mastroeni will miss the Rapids' game Sunday against the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Home Depot Center and their May 14 home game against Chivas USA.

The appeal is subject to MLS terms as described below:

The MLS Players Union may submit an appeal to the Office of the Commissioner for supplemental discipline imposed as a result of an on-field incident resulting in (a) a fine equal to or greater than $750 for Senior Roster players; (b) or a fine greater than $250 for Developmental Roster players; (c) or a suspension for any player equal to or greater than two games. Any appeal is required to be submitted within 48 hours of receipt of notification of the disciplinary decision by the MLS Players Union.

Once a notice of appeal is received the Commissioner will schedule a hearing to be held with the party involved. A suspension cannot be delayed if a hearing was not conducted prior to the next game.

The Office of the Commissioner will render a written decision following the conclusion of the hearing which will constitute the final resolution of the dispute and will be binding on the player(s) involved the MLS Players Union and MLS. Any discipline imposed may be upheld reduced or dismissed by the Commissioner in an appeal but may not be increased.

The Disciplinary Committee also fined FC Dallas defender Clarence Goodson an additional $150 for provoking an incident which led to a 77th minute yellow card in FC Dallas' 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy last Saturday night. Goodson was automatically fined $100 for the caution received for the lack of respect for the game.