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Major League Soccer sends a message - it is only cheating if you score

HARRISON NJ - JULY 15:  MLS Commisioner Don Garber speaks to the media during a press conference on July 15 2010 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison New Jersey.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls)
HARRISON NJ - JULY 15: MLS Commisioner Don Garber speaks to the media during a press conference on July 15 2010 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls)
Getty Images for New York Red Bu

Well if you follow me on twitter (@rslsoapbox) or read my blog you know that I fully expect the folks at MLS HQ to do nothing about the blatant dive in stoppage time that drew a PK by Dwayne De Rosario. I mean he didn't score the PK, so clearly it didn't meet their new revised for the 3rd time this year standard, so when Charile Davies dove against RSL the league opened a can of worms by fining him and in doing so they created this statement:

NEW YORK (June 24, 2011) - The Major League Soccer Disciplinary Committee today fined D.C. United forward Charlie Davies $1,000 for putting the game into disrepute in the 83rd minute of the match against Real Salt Lake on June 18. (click here to view the play)

"The MLS Disciplinary Committee ruled that Charlie Davies intentionally deceived the officials and gained an unfair advantage which directly impacted the match," MLS Executive Vice President Nelson Rodriguez said. "This type of behavior tarnishes the image of the League, is detrimental to the game and will not be tolerated."

Prior to this season, MLS players and coaches expressed to the League office that they wanted to see a decrease in diving, embellishment and other simulation intended to deceive the officials. This information was included in MLS' points of emphasis and reviewed with all clubs during preseason.

"Moving forward, all instances of behavior that serves to deceive and that directly impact the game will be subject to severe discipline, including a fine, suspension or both," Rodriguez added.

So a standard was set and the can of worms was opened, they continued down this path a little over a month later when they fined and suspended RSL's Alvaro Saborio for a dive on light contact. After the jump you can see their official statement on this instance:

NEW YORK (July 29, 2011) - The Major League Soccer Disciplinary Committee today suspended Real Salt Lake forward Álvaro Saborío one game and fined him $1,000 for putting the game in disrepute in the 61st minute of his team's game against the San Jose Earthquakes on July 23.(click here to see the play)

The Disciplinary Committee determined that Saborío fell in a deliberate attempt to deceive the officials and gain an unfair advantage. The subsequent foul and penalty kick goal had a direct impact on the match and will impact San Jose's next match because San Jose defender Bobby Burling was issued a red card on the play.

Players were warned by League officials against this type of behavior prior to the start of the season and again following the discipline levied against Charlie Davies on June 24, 2011.

"As previously stated, all instances of obvious simulation and/or embellishment that directly impact the game will be subject to severe discipline, including fine, suspension or both," MLS Executive Vice President Nelson Rodríguez said. "We will continue to impose sanctions, and even increase their level, if necessary, in an attempt to eliminate this type of behavior."

The MLS Players Union appealed on Saborío's behalf, but the Committee's decision was upheld by MLS Commissioner Don Garber. Saborío will serve his suspension during Saturday's game against the Columbus Crew.

The Disciplinary Committee also fined San Jose Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch $500 for making an obscene gesture during the game against Real Salt Lake on July 23.

You will notice a little difference in the statements, gone is the bit about deceiving the officials and in comes the obvious simulation and/or embellishment clause.

Both have included the statement that only when these actions directly impact the game clause as well. So that brings us to Wednesday night, DC United had a 2-0 lead but had given up 2 goals to Chivas to head into stoppage time tied up at 2-2, and then this which drew a stoppage time PK.

Now maybe it is just me, but I think a stoppage time PK attempt qualifies as "directly impact the game". However when Dan Kennedy made the save on the DeRo PK attempt and the match ended at 2-2 it changed everything. There was no media outrage like there was on the previous two events, in fact in their wrap ups of the match two of the biggest soccer writers out there each gave it just a sentence mention. Both of these guys had jumped up and down and screamed at the previous events, and while I am torn on whether MLS should or could actually enforce such a new standard, at least the public outrage over the actions was there.

Well this time, there was little outrage from the public and I believe that like MLS that they had adopted a "no goal, no foul" policy. Well yesterday we did hear one other voice start to say that MLS should punish this act the same way they punished the others, but no the league released no public statement via MLS Communications, they still haven't mentioned it on their website, nope this whole instance is being swept under the rug.

So we have a new standard in MLS, and it is one that doesn't really surprise me. It appears that diving is only against the rules when you get a PK awarded and you actually score, other than that diving is fine, diving in the area is fine, doing swan dives on little contact is fine, cheating is fine, unless of course you actually score a goal as a result of your cheating. Way to go MLS, way to set a standard and then walk away from it when it become difficult to enforce.

Now I know that all of these statements by Nelson Rodriquez aren't made directly by Don Garber, but it is clear that the guys in charge of our league simply don't get it. For me I have an outlet, I can say what I think here on my blog, but ask yourself what can you do?

Well emails are nice and I believe that MLS uses the format. You can also follow @MLS and @thesoccerdon on twitter and let them know what you think.

For me this is simple, diving happens and continues to happen, you can punish the players at random the new standard, or you can work with your officials to ensure that BS calls aren't made in the first place. There is an oft thrown around quote in sports, and while nobody knows who started it, the reality far too often is "If your not cheating, your not trying hard enough".