Clubs may request an appeal with the Independent Review Panel to request a review to rectify a case of clear and obvious error relating to an on-field disciplinary decision of the match officials for one of the following:

  • Red Card
  • Second yellow card in a match that results in a player suspension
  • First yellow card for unsporting behavior after an opposing player attempts to deceive the match official using simulation/embellishment
  • First yellow card for a  foul called that was later proven to reveal no contact on the play.

Within twenty-four (24) hours of the completion of a match, Clubs must send written notice on club letterhead to the Senior Vice President, Competition detailing the rationale for the appeal. Within 48 hours, clubs must submit documentation for the appeal, including any and all evidence (e.g., video, photography, written statements, other) supporting the appeal.

The Major League Soccer Players Association (“MLSPA”) will have the right to veto any appeal involving a player. As such, it is strongly recommended that a Club engage the player in the decision-making process as early as possible.

Review Procedure

Outlined below is the procedure that will be applied to the review of send-offs.

The applicable Ruling Body will review the appeal from the Club and determine, based on all available evidence (e.g., video, testimony, etc.):

1. Did the match officials make a clear and obvious error in respect to the disciplinary sanction in accordance with the Laws of the Game?

  • If the IRP member’s answer to the question is YES, then he/she votes to uphold the appeal (i.e., the appeal is successful).
  • If the IRP member’s answer to the question is NO, then he/she votes to deny the appeal (i.e., the appeal is unsuccessful). In cases where the IRP’s final decision is to deny an appeal, the IRP will then vote to determine whether the appeal deemed to be frivolous in line with the definition below:

A frivolous appeal is one that has no sound basis in fact or the Laws of the Game or that does not contain objective rational basis. In other words, an appeal is not frivolous if a reasonable observer with knowledge of the Laws of the Game would find that there is a rational basis for arguing that the discipline applied was not appropriate for the offense.

All IRP decision to uphold an appeal must be unanimous. Additionally, all decisions to classify an appeal as frivolous must be unanimous.

Appeal to review a Send-Off Decision

1. Prior to the start of the MLS League Season, Clubs must post a $25,000 refundable bond with the League Office for the right to make up to two (2) unsuccessful appeals during the 2021 season (including playoffs).

2. If an appeal is upheld (i.e., successful), then the send-off punishment will be rescinded.

3. If an appeal is denied, then the send-off punishment (and any supplemental discipline should it be administered by the MLS Disciplinary Committee) will stand and the Club will have lost one of its two allotted appeals for the current MLS season (including the playoffs).

4. If an appeal is denied and deemed frivolous by the Ruling Body that reviewed the case, then the Club’s bond will be forfeited and the Club will further lose the right to appeal any other decisions for the remainder of the current MLS regular season and postseason and the next regular season and postseason. Further, the send-off punishment of the player or coach/staff member will be doubled (i.e., an automatic suspension of two (2) games).

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Ruling Bodies

Red Card; Second Yellow Card – The three (3)-member Independent Review Panel, consisting of one (1) representative from the U.S. Soccer Federation, one (1) representative from the Canadian Soccer Association and one (1) independent representative nominated by the Professional Referee Organization, will oversee the review of any player appeal. MLS does NOT participate on this panel.

Coach/Staff Dismissals – The MLS Disciplinary Committee, not the Independent Review Panel, will oversee the review of any coach/staff appeal.

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