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2011 Referee Week in Review - Week 4

Major League Soccer – Week 4

The Situation: New England at Vancouver are tied 0-0 in the 56th minute.

The Play: A Vancouver player converts a penalty kick to give the Whitecaps  a 1-0 lead. The player removes his jersey and leaves the field of play to celebrate the goal. 

The Decision: Following the celebration, which included the player throwing his removed jersey into the stands, the referee cautions the Vancouver player.  

My Take: Referees are expected to use common sense when dealing with goal celebrations and players should be permitted to celebrate so long as the celebration is not excessive or in violation of the Laws of the Game. Even though the player in question is wearing another jersey underneath, according to Law 12 (see below) the referee must issue a caution to the player. 

The Laws of the Game: Law 12 (Fouls and Misconduct) states that a player must be cautioned when committing the following acts during a goal scoring celebration:

  • making a provocative or inflammatory gesture
  • climbing onto a perimeter fence
  • removing a jersey or covering the head with a jersey
  • covering the head or face with a mask or similar item. 

Michael Kennedy is a current MLS referee and has officiated in the league since its founding in 1996. In addition to serving as a professional referee, he has also represented U.S. Soccer as both a FIFA referee and assistant referee.