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Colter Peterson, KSL

RSL coach Mike Petke suspended 6 total games, fined $25K for 'repugnant language' used in Leagues Cup match

By Sean Walker, KSL.com | Updated - Jul 30th, 2019 @ 5:09pm | Posted - Jul 30th, 2019 @ 3:35pm



SANDY — Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke's suspension wasn't for the one-off league match against FC Dallas after all.

Petke has been suspended for two more regular-season games in Major League Soccer play, as well as three Leagues Cup matches following an incident that occurred following last week's 1-0 loss to Mexican power Tigres UANL in the inaugural Leagues Cup at Rio Tinto Stadium.

The suspension was first reported by ESPN Tuesday afternoon, saying that Petke had been suspended for "up to three games" .

Petke was suspended an additional two matches beyond Saturday’s scoreless draw at FC Dallas by MLS commissioner Don Garber. In addition, the RSL head coach has been issued a $25,000 fine for the “use of unacceptable and offensive language as well as repeated confrontational misconduct towards match officials.”

Petke will also be required to attend management, sensitive and diversity training by the league, anger management courses by the team, and Real Salt Lake has placed the coach on two-week suspension, without pay, effective immediately.

“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,” Garber said in a statement. “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 provided an environment in which all individuals are treated with dignity and respect at all times.”

In addition to the MLS suspension, the Leagues Cup — an inaugural event co-founded by MLS and Liga MX in Mexico — has suspended Petke for three Leagues Cup matches. That suspension will carry over to future competitions.

"We hold everyone in our organization — particularly the leadership — to the highest standards and expect them to treat everyone with dignity and respect," Real Salt Lake said in a club statement released Tuesday afternoon. "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."

The fine and suspension are similar to punishments handed down by the league to players for comments to officials, fans and stadium personnel that reflect serious accusations, such as obscenities and slurs. It's unclear what Petke said to head referee John Pitti following RSL's 1-0 loss to Tigres, but Petke himself admitted there were words used that were not appropriate for television or media broadcast after he "was pulling away" his players to get off the field and into the locker room.

"Afterwards, it was just extra. I told him what I felt," he said. "(But) I honestly was pulling them away, trying to get them back in the locker room. Maybe he was still thinking about the 4 minutes they put up, the cat running on the field, and him allowing the player to take a shot on goal — and then giving them the ball back after all that arguing with our players. But all I was doing was grabbing my players.

"What I said afterwards would've gotten me a red card. But I said it after I got the red card."

It's not the first time Petke has been fined or suspended by Major League Soccer for verbal sparring. The fifth-year head coach who is in his third season with RSL received a $3,000 fine for criticizing league officiating back in 2017, then he was fined $10,000 a year later for another tirade.

Real Salt Lake was also fined $10,000 during one of those incidents for what the league deemed as inappropriate social media posts related to the criticisms.

"No other coach in this league steps up a little more than they should; I’m going to," Petke said after being ejected following a 3-1 loss to Minnesota United. "So drain my bank account; I don’t give a (expletive) anymore. OK?"

Petke was not available for comment Tuesday at RSL's training session in Herriman. He was not made available to speak to the media, nor was he present on the sideline during practice.

RSL assistant coach Freddie Juarez coached the team during last weekend's 0-0 draw with FC Dallas, and it is anticipated the former Real Monarchs head coach and RSL academy director will do the same Saturday against New York City FC and for the remainder of Petke's suspension.

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