San Jose Earthquakes forward Innocent has been suspended by the MLS Disciplinary Committee for one week and fined an undisclosed amount.
Innocent was found guilty of foul play that endangered the safety of Real Salt Lake defender Luke Mulholland in the 41st minute of last weekend’s game.
The San Jose Earthquakes were also found to be in violation of the mass confrontation regulation after they surrounded referee Armando Villlareal immediately he blew following the collision.
It was clear that Mulholland had suffered a blow to the head and so the referee’s initial decision could only have been to stop the game. The San Jose Players, however, quickly surrounded the referee and there was some jostling. As this is the Quakes first violation of the season the committee issued a formal warning but no fine.
The video of Innocent’s collision with Mullholland appears to show him leading his leap for the ball with his left arm extended and it looks as if the San Jose player’s arm and elbow strikes the side of the RSL player’s head.
A question for debate is, given Innocent’s eyes were on the ball when he started his jump, how aware was he of Mulholland’s position at the moment he chose to leap for the ball? Indeed, how aware players should be of opponents’ positions and the potential for collision is a topic likely to generate a variety of opinions, and shades thereof.
The question of players confronting referee decisions can be frustrating, and not just for the players. Questioning authority is all well and good, in fact it’s one of our rights, but honestly when was the last time a player protest resulted in the referee saying something like:
"Gee, yes, I’m real sorry, you’re right. What was I thinking? Of course it was/wasn’t a foul. What a silly referee I am, please accept my apologies and have a free kick."
Whereas, it’s human nature to rail at decisions we think are unfair, one of the functions of the MLS Disciplinary Committee is to make sure that, right decision or wrong decision, there are no handbags aimed at the ref.