NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush announced on Tuesday that Seattle Reign FC has been fined an undisclosed amount for comments critical of the match officials, which were made by general manager and coach Laura Harvey and the club regarding Saturday's game against the Portland Thorns FC.
Our own recap described the game this way: "what happened at Memorial Stadium on Saturday evening, when at least six Reign players went down at certain points in the game due to injuries, was terrifying".
In her post-match press conference (embedded above), Harvey said:
I thought the ref lost control of the game. I think everyone should look at Bev Goebel's face. I'm not saying anybody went out to hurt anybody. But the reality is that when the referee doesn't get a hold on the game, like he didn't, someone was going to get hurt. I kept saying it to the fourth official. I'm not saying it would have been one of our players or their players, but in rivalry games, when a referee doesn't get a hold of the game, things like that happen.
I'm not saying it was done on purpose, but things like that can't happen. The challenge on Elli Reed can't happen. They're dangerous. Unfortunately, when you have a referee that doesn't really get hold of the game quick enough, things like that happen.
Harvey shouldn't be surprised at all by the fine. As she left the press conference, Harvey muttered, "I'll probably get fined for that," but didn't seem to care. The last time the Reign got fined for criticizing the ref was in 2013. After losing to Portland 1-0, Harvey said of ref Margaret Domka without naming her specifically, "The referees are a joke."
Following this weekend's match, Reign FC also stated in its recap that "the referee apparently suffered from a strange form of paralysis that prevented him from pulling a yellow card from his pocket until late in the game, despite a plethora of bodies in blue that littered the field." Those comments have since been removed from the online recap.
Harvey wasn't the only NWSL coach to criticize match officials this week. Western NY Flash coach Paul Riley, in speaking with The Equalizer's Dan Lauletta, also had some words to say about Saturday's officiating after centerback Abby Erceg was sent off due to two questionable yellow cards.
I spoke to Paul Riley a little while ago. To say he is not pleased with Saturday's officiating would be a gross understatement #NWSL— Dan Lauletta (@TheDanLauletta) May 16, 2016
In a follow-up email to reporters, an NWSL representative noted that teams are given referee evaluation forms for every match for league/PRO to review. All fines collected by the NWSL will be donated to the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the exclusive charitable partner of the League. So at least some good will come of it.