Well, I am intrigued to hear what you guys think about this one.
Yesterday evening Major League Soccer confirmed that the ball boy at the center of controversy during Saturday’s Portland versus Chivas USA game, acted in the correct manner.
The whole incident occurred late in the second half, when Chivas’ Mario de Luna tried to grab the ball from the ball kid’s grasp and shoved him, after the youngster failed to let go of the soccer ball. Since then, de Luna has come under heavy criticism for his actions, but also the question of whether or not the ball boy acted in the appropriate way has been raised.
Now though, MLS have confirmed the ball kid acted in accordance to their rules found in the league manual.
They shall watch for signals from the referee/match commissioner/field supervisor or ball kid supervisor, to whom they are responsible throughout the game. The ball must be given to the appropriate team, as signaled by the referee (the referee will point his arm in the direction of the goal that the team is attacking to indicate which team has possession).
The key part here is, “the ball must be given to the appropriate team” because the referee and officials had signaled for a throw-in to the Portland Timbers. So the ball kid was just doing his job and holding on to the ball to give it back to a Timbers player.
So de Luna trying to snatch the ball away from him wasn’t part of the deal and the ball kid, correctly, held onto the ball to try and give it to a Portland player.
Discussion over… Or maybe not.
Should de Luna face extra charges from the MLS Disciplinary Committee this week? He will. That shouldn’t even be a question. So how many games should he be banned for or how much should the fine be?
But let’s be careful to not blow this out of proportion. He acted incorrectly. Chivas USA’s manager apologized straight-away for the incident, the player was yellow carded on the field and maybe a small one or two game ban would be appropriate. Maybe even an order to coach youngsters for a few hours a week in the coming months would be enough.
De Luna knows he was in the wrong. But after Chelsea’s Eden Hazard was banned and lambasted for a similar act earlier this season, the incident has almost been forgotten by many. And cast your mind back to last season when San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch was banned for one game for “aggressively retrieving a ball.”
Was de Luna’s act worse than that?