This past week, the MLS saw some pretty interesting and challenging incidents that kept the officials on their toes. However, none were as interesting to me as what happened late in the first half of the match between Toronto FC and New York Red Bulls. In the 43rd minute, Bradley Wright Phillips is bumped in the penalty area by Scott Caldwell. The referee, in my opinion, was correct not to award a penalty kick. The interesting part is what happened next…
Instead of the usual moaning and temper tantrum flaring of players when things don’t go their way, Wright Phillips gets helped up by Caldwell and then gives him a peck on the cheeck! Caldwell doesn’t seem too bothered by it, gives a friendly “way to go sport” pat on the back and they both get on with the game.
(Go to 7:28)
But what if Caldwell took offence to the gesture? Does Caldwell’s reaction, whether it be positive or negative, change or influence the interpretation of the kiss? If Caldwell’s reaction went the other way, the possible outcome could have have been disastrous for referee Edvin Jurisevic. There would most likely have been some shoving and maybe a few punches, but then how would you handle the misconduct? Obviously anyone caught with flying fists would be sent off…but what do you do about Wright Phillips and his puckered lips?
I am not going to claim to have the answer in this post because I just don’t know what I would do however, I will discuss my thoughts and feelings. Personally, regardless of how the other player reacted, I find this sort of action condescending and mocking at the very least. To kiss an opponent is to get into ones personal space and it crosses a line. In my opinion this act is unsporting at the least, making it worthy of a caution, and quite possibly teeters on the edge of an OFFINABUS gesture and may even warrant a sending off! If I ever saw this during one of my fixtures, I would almost certainly caution the player for USB.
This is definitely a topic for much discussion so please leave your comments below while I get the view of a very close National List friend of mine.
The Third Blind Mouse