Was Brian Mullan’s Punishment Too Harsh?
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.