Was Brian Mullan’s Punishment Too Harsh?

Steve Zakuani goes orange

Photo by WSDOT

MLS has handed down the punishment for last weekend’s tackle by Brian Mullan that broke Steve Zakuani’s leg, and it’s a doosy.  The league suspended the veteran midfielder for an additional 9 games on top of his one game red card suspension and fined him $5,000 (plus $250 for the red card).  The suspension is the longest for an on-the-ball tackle and equals the longest MLS suspension ever: Ricardo Clark was suspended nine games for kicking Carlos Ruiz during a match in 2007.

“The Committee felt the egregious nature of the foul and the severity of the injury warranted the discipline issued,” executive vice president of competition and game operations Nelson Rodriguez said in a statement on the MLS website. “The Committee believes the challenge showed an utter disregard for Zakuani’s safety.”

Brian Mullan does not have a reputation as a violent player in MLS, in fact his last red card was in 2006.  However, the horrific nature of the tackle and the desire by MLS to quash such incidents as much as possible led to this suspension.  It is hard to argue that a suspension was not warranted, but it’s easy to make the case that MLS was reacting to the result and not the play itself.  Maybe, though, that is eaxctly what MLS needs to do.

What’s telling is the fine – Mullan’s fine was less than Clark’s $10,000 fine.

What do you think?  Was the penalty to harsh, too lenient, or did MLS get it right?

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6 Responses to Was Brian Mullan’s Punishment Too Harsh?

  1. Abram says:

    It really looks like MLS took a stand, good for them. Now they will deal with the inevitable backlash of taking a stand. Too bad for Mullan, but it still doesn’t bring Zakuani back.

  2. Charles says:

    They took a stand…sort of.

    I think he went after Zakuani intentional ( not just because I am a Sounder’s fan, initially I thought those things happen ).
    Watching the replay, he could have kicked the ball, but he wasn’t going for the ball.

    He was showing up the ref and SZ got hurt.

    Should have been the season.

    • SSReporters says:

      He deserves probably a longer ban from that. What he did borders on criminal assault.

      No way was he going for the ball. Dellacamera and Martino put up the most dishonest and garbage commentary on that incident I’ve ever heard.

      Quite clearly Mullan’s goal was to make his presence felt regardless of consequences. This isn’t a “these things happen” story. That was thuggery on a stick.

  3. Michael says:

    I don’t mind 10 games as long as they are consistent throughout the year. The major question is if they are punishing the tackle or if they are punishing the result of the tackle, ie the broken leg. There have been some bad tackles already this year, just players have been lucky to walk away from them. If you are punishing intent, they have to ramp up the suspensions. It is a fine line to walk for the committee. I don’t like that they can’t review tackles unless a red card is shown.

  4. Michael says:

    Yeah, I see Colorado fans already griping that “MLS had better hand out this same punishment to every bad tackle, regardless of injury.”

    Nowhere in society do you get punished for battery if you actually MISS with the punch, or for murder if the gun misfires. (The exception seems to be DUI, where MADD seems to be hell bent on punishing anyone arrested on suspicion, regardless of whether there’s even enough evidence to charge, but that should be the exception that proves the rule.)

    Regardless of Mullan’s statement about having made that exact tackle “hundreds of times”, there’s not one shred of doubt this one was a reckless tackle borne out of frustration. It wasn’t up to even the “hard-nosed” Mullan’s professional standard – THAT’S what some of us were hoping he would apologize for: a moment of egregious unprofessional recklessness, not “just another tackle” that turned into a “freak accident.”

    That’s why this deserved 10 games + fine: it wasn’t an ordinary tackle. And anyone who thinks it was doesn’t watch much soccer.

  5. Oh_yeah says:

    I hope that other MLS players will learn from this experience.

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