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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Decision and Statement of the WPS Commissioner, Tonya Antonucci

The following press release was provided courtesy of Rob Penner, Communications Director of Women's Professional Soccer.


Re: Washington Freedom v. Saint Louis Athletica, May 3, 2009


Having reviewed footage of the match, the referee report, the coaches reports, and having heard from representatives of each Team, the Commissioner has determined that further discipline of certain Players in the Freedom v. Athletica match is warranted.

Washington Freedom v Los Angeles Sol

1. Washington Freedom player #20 (Abby Wambach) is hereby suspended from the next Freedom game for which she is available to play (e.g. not injured or called to national team duty) based upon a tackle in the 80th minute that was reckless and resulted in a potentially season-ending injury of an opposing player.

WPS: APR 25 Sol at Athletica

2. Saint Louis Athletica player #6 (Kia McNeill) is hereby suspended from the next Athletica game for which she is available to play (e.g. not injured or called to national team duty) based upon persistent egregious conduct toward an opposing player.


This week the League Disciplinary Committee completed its review of a number of on-field incidents in the May 3, 2009, game between the Washington Freedom and Saint Louis Athletica. In the Committee’s collective opinion, none of them met the very specific criteria for over-ruling the decisions of the game referee and therefore further disciplinary measures were not imposed. Under the relevant rule, the Committee must be unanimous that the play in question is a clear and unequivocal red card. That was not the case for any of the incidents reviewed. Under the framework of this rule, the egregious or reckless nature of any given play is not a sufficient basis for a suspension absent the Committee’s agreement on the red card.

The decision of the Committee not to suspend any player is not appealable. However, under the League Operating Agreements and consistent with the player contracts, the Commissioner may independently exercise her discretion to further review the match and assess penalties based upon conduct that is detrimental to the best interests of WPS, the integrity of its matches and the protection of its Players.

A suspended player may appeal the suspension by providing notice to the league within seven days of the decision to suspend. Any appeal would be heard by the Commissioner.

"I elected to review the circumstances of the Freedom-Athletica match out of concern that the nature of play, if left unchecked, could lead to circumstances in future games that might pose a threat to the safety of the players and to the integrity of the league. In addition to the issuance of the discipline in the Decision above, I have directed that the circumstances of this match be brought to the attention of the US Soccer Federation, which provides referee assignments for WPS matches, and that serious consideration be given to avoiding these circumstances when making future referee assignments."
Update from Mr. Penner on 08 May:

McNeill, Wambach Have Seven Days to Appeal One Game Suspension

On Thursday evening, May 7, 2009, the WPS Commissioner suspended two players for one game each. League policy provides that a player shall not play during the period of the appeal process unless the Commissioner, in her discretion, determines otherwise.

One suspended player's team (Abby Wambach #20, Washington Freedom) does not have a game scheduled until after the seven-day appeal period, the second player's team (Kia McNeill #6, Saint Louis Athletica) has a game scheduled for Saturday, May 9.

The Commissioner has determined that the one-day window between the Thursday-evening decision and the Saturday game is a unique and extenuating circumstance and will make a one-time exception to allow McNeill to play this weekend during the pendency of any appeal, should there be one.

Neither player has formally appealed to the league. They have until Thursday, May 14.

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