SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Mike Petke’s anger has earned him an additional two-game suspension and a $25,000 fine.
Major League Soccer handed down the punishment for Petke’s post-game rant against referee John Pitti following last week’s 1-0 loss to Tigres UANL in the Leagues Cup Tournament.
Petke was already suspended for Saturday’s scoreless draw at FC Dallas, and will miss this Saturday’s home game against New York City FC as well as the August 10th game at Sporting Kansas City.
Petke will be required to attend anger management courses and issue written apologies to the league and to the referees.
Real Salt Lake released the following statement:
“We hold everyone in our organization – particularly the leadership – to the highest standards and expect them to treat everyone with dignity and respect. We have the utmost respect for the referees, PRO and Major League Soccer and will be working with the League to ensure that everyone in our organization treats all referees, players, coaches and fans with the dignity, respect, civility and professionalism that is consistent with our values. Although we appreciate Coach Petke’s passion and drive to win, it should never come at the expense of those values. We support and agree with the League’s decision on this matter. Real Salt Lake will additionally be suspending Coach Petke from all club activity for two weeks, without pay. In addition, he will be required to attend anger management courses to help remedy what has been a recurring issue and he will be required to issue written apologies to both the League and the individual referees. As a Club we apologize to our fans for this incident and going forward will continue to demand that all staff adhere to the highest personal standards, without excuse.”
MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement, “There is absolutely no place for this type of behavior in our society, and Major League Soccer does not tolerate the repugnant language used by Mr. Petke, “All MLS players, staff and fans must know that these comments are unacceptable, and I am extremely disappointed that a leader of one of our clubs used such insensitive language. We are committed to providing an environment in which all individuals are treated with dignity and respect at all times.”
Following last week’s game against Tigres, Petke explained why he got the red card.
“Go back and look at the videotape,” Petke said after the game. “I’m pulling five of my players away, I’m talking to my players and he gives me a red card. He must have thought I was talking to him. I don’t know. Afterwards, it was just extra. I was telling him what I felt. The red card though, I was honestly just pulling them away, telling them to get back into the locker room. Perhaps he was still thinking about the four minutes they put up, the cat running onto the field, allowing them to take a shot on goal over ten seconds later and then giving them the ball back. Then, for an additional reason after arguing with our players which took an additional minute, ending the game at exactly four minutes. All I was doing was grabbing my players. What I said afterwards would have gotten me a red card, but I said that after the red card.”
Assistant coach Freddy Juarez will take over as the acting head coach against NYCFC and Sporting KC, and the RSL players do not feel as though the team will skip a beat.
“Not at all,” said defender Aaron Herrera. “Freddy has been Mike’s right hand man this whole time, so he knows exactly Mike’s tendencies, and now it gives Freddy a chance to sort of add his own flare.”
“I don’t think there is a difference,” added forward Sebastian Saucedo. “Just as much as Mike wants to see us succeed, I think Freddy does too. I think we all have to buy into that and respect his style as well.”