USSF Referee MemorandumsTo: State Referee Administrators
State Youth Referee
State Directors of
State Directors of
Instructors and Trainers
From: Alfred Kleinaitis
Manager of Referee
Development and Education
Subject: Automatic Suspension
Following an Expulsion from a Match
Date: November 14,
FIFA recently distributed
Circular 866 to clarify and confirm any doubts remaining from its earlier
Circular (821, dated October 1, 2002) regarding the issue of mandatory
suspensions for a player who has been expelled from a match. The
clarifications took the form of unambiguous answers to certain frequently
1. Any player sent off during
a football match shall automatically be suspended for the following match
(Art. 19, para. 4; Art. 39 FDC)
2. Any appeal against an
automatic suspension shall not have a suspensive effect. Under no
circumstances may a player take part in the following match while awaiting
a decision on his appeal, regardless of the reasons for his appeal.
3. Any appeals against an
automatic suspension as a result of an obvious error made by the referee
under the terms of Art. 83 FDC (principally an error regarding the identify
of a player involved in an incident leading to a sending off) can and must
be accepted or rejected immediately in order to allow any players who have
been erroneously suspended to play in the next match.
4. The disciplinary body
is able to reach an immediate decision with regard to such an appeal as
obvious errors, by their very nature, can also be confirmed without delay.
If any doubts remain, the referee has clearly not made an obvious error
and the appeal will also be rejected immediately.
We therefore ask the national
associations of FIFA to make use of the judicial instruments referred to
in the FIFA Disciplinary Code (Art. 134 and 140) in order to be able to
make an immediate decision regarding appeals: either allow the disciplinary
body to hold an immediate conference or permit a single judge to pronounce
5. If a player is unable
to serve the automatic suspension in a domestic or continental club competition,
the relevant bodies shall decide on how the suspension shall be carried
over to another competition.
6. The principle of automatic
suspension shall be applied in the same way, irrespective of the offence
committed by the player.
However, in the case of
particularly serious offences, the relevant body may extend the sanction
imposed to apply to all competitions organised under its jurisdiction in
order to prevent a player, after having committed such an offence, from
playing in any other competition.
All competition authorities
under USSF must ensure that their disciplinary procedures take these clarifications
. A one game suspension is
mandatory following a send-off (red card).
. The suspension may be
extended for more serious offenses but it cannot be reduced, no matter
what the reason was for the send-off.
. The suspension must be
served even if it is being appealed. Under no circumstances can the
fact of an appeal be used to suspend or delay the suspension.
. All appeals must be decided
quickly, before the match is played for which the affected player would
be suspended. If the send-off was erroneous due to an obvious error
in identifying the player, this appeal can be resolved quickly because
the error was obvious; if the error was not obvious, the appeal will be
quickly resolved by rejecting it.