Sandra Serafini, the Strategic Initiatives Manager of the Professional Referees Organization, backed up referees who handed out red cards to Carli Lloyd in separate NWSL matches last weekend. Additionally, an NWSL spokesperson confirmed that there is currently no mechanism for players or teams to appeal red cards.
“The red card is definitely supported,” Serafini said about Lloyd getting clear up high on Mallory Weber in stoppage time of Saturday’ Dash draw against the Thorns. “The broadcast feed wasn’t clear on the point of contact which is kind of the deciding factor in that play. And we did see some photos that came out that clearly showed the point of contact of the studs into the knee area. With the amount of force that was used, the red card for serious foul play is supported.”
Serafini added that referee Christina Unkel was well positioned to call the play which was inconclusive based on angles available on the game’s webstream. She also said that referees are instructed to raise their awareness when a bouncing ball becomes a 50/50 ball.
“Those are always situations where we want officials’ radar up because both players have hope. I wouldn’t deny that there as an attempt to play the ball but ultimately Lloyd doesn’t play the ball and the amount of force she has at the point of contact with the cleats into the knee raises it to serious foul play.”
On the play in the 83rd minute when Bruna Benites goes studs up into Tyler Lussi was in fact, not a studs-first challenge according to Serafini. Though Bruna goes in studs first, contact was more with the side of her foot, making the play worthy of a yellow card.
Earlier in the night, Groom was sent off after raising a hand to the face of Erica Skroski who had fouled her by pulling her arm from behind. Skroski received a yellow on the play. The red card set the stage for Sam Kerr’s second half dramatics to lead Sky Blue over FC Kansas City, 3-2.
“Shea Groom is fouled clearly, and the retaliation is above the shoulders. One hand gets the side of (Skroski’s) face. The foul has been called so the play is dead. When this occurs when the ball is out of play, anything that is into the face and head area, for FIFA is considered violent contact unless the contact is negligible. I think the contact was more than negligible. She was lashing out and gets her in partly the neck but also the side of the face. That’s pretty straight out of the FIFA directives.”
Asked about referee Amber O’Connor losing control of the match leading up to the yellow on Skroski and red to Groom, Serafini said it was “a bit of a stretch” and added that the players remain responsible for their actions.