The Major League Soccer (MLS) issued a series of disciplinary decisions after the tumultuous 33rd round of the 2023 season, raising important questions about the state of discipline and ethics in modern soccer.
First and foremost, the one-game suspension and fine imposed on Richard Ledezma, midfielder of New York City FC, for spitting on an opponent is an appropriate measure. Soccer is an exhilarating sport, but it must be played with respect for opponents. Actions like these are unacceptable and should be punished rigorously. However, it is regrettable that such incidents occur at a professional level, prompting us to question the players’ values.
Álvaro Barreal, defender for FC Cincinnati, also received a fine for simulation. Simulation is a practice detrimental to the sport, and players need to understand that there is no place for theatrical dives on the field. Fines like these should be accompanied by educational efforts to eradicate such behavior.
Ethan Bristow, defender for Minnesota United FC, was fined for not leaving the field promptly during a match. While this may seem like a less serious offense compared to others, it highlights the need to respect the rules and the authority of referees. Players should understand that disrespecting the rules undermines the integrity of the game.
The most notable case involved the LAFC, which was found guilty of violating the Mass Confrontation Policy for the second time in the season. This is concerning and raises questions about the culture and disciplinary control within the club. The fines imposed on the club and coach Steve Cherundolo, along with fines for Giorgio Chiellini, Kellyn Acosta, and Ilie Sánchez, should serve as a warning for the need to reinforce sportsmanship values and personal responsibility.
Discipline in soccer is crucial for the integrity and respect for the sport. The MLS is taking steps to punish inappropriate behavior but should also focus on education and prevention. Players, coaches, and clubs must take responsibility for promoting a clean and respectful playing environment. Soccer is a sport that unites people worldwide, and it is essential that it is played with fair play, ethics, and mutual respect, both on and off the field.