League Announcement

2024 MLS Send-Off Review Procedure

MLS Appeal Process

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

  • Red Card
  • The second yellow card when a player receives two (2) yellow cards in a match, resulting in the player being sent off from the match
  • The first yellow card (when a player receives two (2) yellow cards in a match resulting in a suspension) in circumstances when the first yellow card was issued for Unsporting Behavior and, in the opinion of the IRP, the opponent attempted to deceive the referee.
  • A yellow card that triggers a suspension due to yellow card accumulation when the yellow card is a consequence of clear and obvious simulation or embellishment by an opponent.

NOTE:  Clubs may not appeal any previously earned yellow card that counts toward the player’s yellow card accumulation total.

NOTE: Incidents occurring off-field will not be considered by the IRP

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:

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

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.

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 2024 season (including playoffs).

2. If an appeal is upheld (i.e., successful), then the disciplinary punishment (i.e., yellow card, suspension, and/or fine) will be rescinded.

3. If an appeal is denied (i.e., unsuccessful), then the disciplinary punishment (and any supplemental discipline should it be administered by the MLS Disciplinary Committee) will stand and the Club will lose one of its two (2) 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 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).

Ruling Bodies

Red Card; 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.