U.S. Soccer suspends Marrufo two matches for Jersey-Gate

Jair Marrufo (ISIphotos.com) 

                                                                      Photo by ISIphotos.com

U.S. Soccer has suspended referee Jair Marrufo for two matches for receiving a jersey from Chicago Fire player Cuauhtemoc Blanco after last week's Chicago Fire-Columbus Crew match.

"The initial step in dealing with the situation was to remove Jair Maruffo from his assignment for this weekend," U.S. Soccer spokesman Neil Buethe told SBI. "After careful consideration, the decision has been made to officially suspend him for this week and the following week."

Marrufo, the 2008 MLS referee of the year, was suspended after witnesses saw Blanco toss a jersey into the referee's locker room after last week's Fire-Crew match, a match that included a controversial red card issued by Marrufo to Crew defender Gino Padula for a foul on Blanco. That red card helped spark a two-goal comeback by the Fire, which had been trailing, 2-0.

What do you think of the suspension? Is two games fair? Not enough? Too much? Think Blanco should have been reprimanded?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Major League Soccer, MLS- Chicago Fire, MLS- Columbus Crew, U.S. Soccer. Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to U.S. Soccer suspends Marrufo two matches for Jersey-Gate

  1. Nick says:

    Two games is okay. Now where is Blanco’s suspension for bribery?

  2. Willardo DuPont says:


  3. ImaGoalMan says:

    Overreaction…a Blanco jersey, it’s a token gift, an inconsequential sum.

  4. Derek Droeger says:

    He should be banned for life!!!
    That is absolutely ridiculous.
    That red card was the sole reason Columbus didn’t win.

    Not only should he be suspended for life, but MLS Should fine and suspend Blanco for at least 5 games.

    This is absolutely absurd!!
    Columbus should be given an automatic 3 pts and deduct the point from Chicago.

    Further action must be taken!!!

  5. SSFC09 says:

    ya, Blanco is a Turkey! how can they punish the ref and not the player involved too.

  6. RedLine55 says:

    ha, LOL Derek. that was excellent to read

  7. Joamiq says:

    Whoa. I thought the paid vacation was the end of it. Props to US Soccer for handing out an actual penalty. Hopefully Marrufo learns his lesson. I would have supported a harsher penalty, but this is better than nothing.

    ImaGoalMan: The value of the gift is completely beside the point.

  8. brad j says:

    Blanco tossed the shirt in his locker room. Was he supposed to toss it back, and then they get into a tossing match. Blanco needs to be suspended as well.

  9. kahlva says:

    I would love it if US Soccer actually reviewed the referees actions ON the pitch, and then fined/suspended most of them for bad refereeing.

    How about THAT?

  10. Skinn says:

    I still don’t think two is enough. Perhaps 4 or 5. Even if it’s true about Blanco just leaving the jersey, he should have refused it and reported it. And ImaGoalMan, it isn’t the value that’s important, but the precedent and the principle. The appearance of impropriety is a blemish on USF refs and on MLS–where do you draw the line on gifts? It’s best to say that none are acceptable.

  11. Michael F. - SBI MAFIA ORIGINAL says:

    Does he get to keep the shirt?

  12. jjf3 says:

    not enough on the ref – I could see 10 games easily. Blanco should be suspended for just as long…this is a very steep, slippery slope that MLS can NOT afford to start sliding down…

  13. Aljarov says:

    2 is fine. I’m just glad they gave it an official stamp of disapproval, rather than the initial attempt to just sweep it under the carpet.

    I’m satisfied. Hopefully, this takes him immediately out of Ref of the Year running too….he should never have won last year. He’s terrible.

  14. John in FL says:

    does the suspension open the door for an overturn of the red card?

  15. Justin O says:

    Joamiq & Skinn – In a case like this I think the value of the gift is one thing that should be taken into consideration. Not the only thing of course, but you don’t TOTALLY disregard whether the item in question was a jersey or something much more valuable. I mean, it would be a real stretch to say the ref fixed the match to get a souvenir jersey. Not so if it was something worth thousands of dollars.

  16. Justin O says:

    John in FL – It certainly shouldn’t impact the red card, as that was, as I understand it, never part of the investigation. If it was thought that Marrufo gave a red card to get a jersey, he would be banned for life in a second.

  17. JKS says:

    Blanco should definitely get fined/suspended. I’m surprised there isn’t more talk about this.

    @ kahlva: Maybe they should just get rid off all referees because everyone makes mistakes, especially when you have just a split second to make a decision on something that you get to see only once from an angle that may or may not be obscured by other players. No opportunity to review your own decisions either. Try being a referee first before making such comments.

  18. Kevin says:

    Why isn’t Blanco being punished as well? Say, a lifetime ban from MLS so we don’t have to deal with him anymore. God I am sick of him. There is literally not one man I hate more in all of soccer.

  19. Kyle says:

    This is not the first time the Crew got screwed by the ref this season. Iro’s sending off at Chivas was BS too. Leave out the bad officiating, a few moments of bad luck, and playing at my skill level against RSL, and the Crew results would look very different. They’re playing good overall, the results will come.

  20. Gary says:

    10 games for a “mistake” by conway and parke (and before anybody chimes in with “they should know what they take,” the “banned” substance is a BYPRODUCT of something else, meaning they didn’t take anything illegal, but their bodies metabolized it from something legal), and only 2 for this douche? it should be AT LEAST 10 games, for cheating, and an investigation into his past. also, a lifetime ban from MLS playoffs, USOC, superliga, CONCACAF CL, and any other tourneys he might officiate in.

    i ALWAYS thought his calls were suspect….even compared to the rest of MLS refs.

  21. Leonardo says:

    i doubt he’ll get another Fire game. still, i think this puts a needed spotlight on the refs – get more full-time, a review panel, and protect them against bitchy players. i hate whiners.

    P.S. bad officiating only goes so far. ur team just blows.

  22. DC Josh says:

    “The initial step in dealing with the situation was to remove Jair Maruffo from his assignment for this weekend,” U.S. Soccer spokesman Neil Buethe told SBI. “After careful consideration, the decision has been made to officially suspend him for this week and the following week.”

    What the media omitted was the quote from US Soccer talking about buying Blanco a new car, a house in Mexico AND the US, lifetime supply of Papa John’s meat lovers pizza, XBOX 360 with one extra controller and HALO 3, free upgrade to Comcast HD, visit to the Playboy mansion lifestyles included, free MLS 2008 All-star calendar, and a 4-day all-inclusive round trip to a destination of his choice.

  23. This Guy says:

    I think they should suspend Gaven for surpassing Blanco as the biggest diver in the MLS.

  24. c y says:

    So much for an American referee at the World Cup. Maybe we can get one in 2014.

  25. Å vejk says:

    The punishment should have been harsher, as this ruling sets a precedent. I don’t want MLS to be a league where David Beckham can tempt Brian Hall with a signed pair of boxers, where Kyle Beckerman can beguile Alex Prus with a batch of magic brownies, or where Sacha Kljestan can entice Michael Kennedy with a lock of his hair.

    Hung, drawn and quartered sounds about right, both of them. Tough but fair.

  26. sean monaghan says:

    hahahah to the last comment^^^

    Ives the fact you called it jersey-gate made me crack up hard,very nice as usual sir haha

  27. hardhead says:

    So…is the MLS going to make a ruling on the Padula card appeal–or just ignore it? Time is running out to make a call one way or the other considering he’s suspended for tomorrow’s match.

  28. Joamiq says:

    Justin O: That line of thinking is too limited though, because it’s not just about fixing an individual match. One jersey can be a reflection of a relationship between a player and an official that is just impermissibly close, or just a reflection that a referee doesn’t understand that there are lines that simply cannot be crossed. I don’t think that the jersey was payment for services rendered, and I don’t think that’s the point. If a ref doesn’t get punished for accepting a jersey, maybe he’ll get more jerseys, or cleats, or whatever, and maybe it’ll happen repeatedly from the same players, and maybe that’ll have an effect on the way he calls games in the future. That is why even the appearance of impropriety must be strictly avoided – once you start down that path, your league’s integrity is ruined [insert joke about MLS not having integrity to begin with here].

  29. A-Zilis says:


    First off, I’m a Chicago fan. With that out of the way, I doubt MLS seriously considered overturning the red card. They’ve never done it before (at least I don’t think they have), and there have been much worse red card calls than that one in the league’s history (even this year).

    There were two non-calls in the Chicago-Columbus game alone that were worse than the red card decision IMO: Brunner’s tackle on Nyarko and Soumare pulling down Marshall in the box in the first half. From the referee’s angle, Padula’s challenge looked bad (one of the replays FSC showed was from pretty much the same angle).

    About the whole jersey issue . . . I really think there’s not much to it. If there had been any deal between Blanco and Marrufo to exchange a red card for a jersey, they would have conducted the trade at a less public place and time. Even so, the league absolutely has to set a precedent for officials receiving gifts from players and the referee is going to get hit much harder than the league’s 2nd most important player.

  30. Alberto says:

    Wow talk about an overreaction. Are any of you self righteous know it all’s aware that Collina and Poll both have extensive jersey collections. Yes, jersey received after matches. This is a complete travesty of justice. People do you really believe that Blanco would get the benefit of calls from Marrufo for a sweaty jersey coming off the back of one of the most acrimonious players in the history of not only MLS, but CONCACAF as well.

  31. john says:

    alberto, you are a complete idiot if you think referees accept jerseys after matches. provide your source…don’t have one? that’s what i thought.

    and to whoever said this, “So much for an American referee at the World Cup. Maybe we can get one in 2014.”

    Marrufo is NOT an American. Anyone who would accept a Blanco jersey is not an American. He’s a Mexican.

  32. Jacob A. says:

    Just a pet-peeve of mine, but jersey-gate is a bad name for that. Anything “-gate” is. The hotel was Watergate, not Watergate-gate.

    Just a pet peeve, ignore if you wish.

  33. Isaac says:

    3 games for the 3 points he effectively cost Columbus. Other than that, kudos USSF.

  34. teh Conde says:

    Non-issue from a non-event stemming from a game played terrible by the terrible playing bottom of the table team.

    It’s over, if you want out of the cellar you have to do more than bitch and moan, although if you are willing to continue to grasp at straws, the rest of the league is willing to laugh at you

  35. Pat says:

    Well, that’s 2 less games that Marufo will be fouling up, and 2 more that some other boob will be making a monstrosity of.

    You can’t take gifts from players. The official takes more blame in this than Blanco, imo. Blanco wasn’t trying to bribe him after the fact.

  36. hardhead says:


    I agree with you on all points. As has been noted several times here, I’m more upset about the inconsistency in refing this season than any individual call (e.g., Iro’s terrible tackle earlier this season surely deserved a red, but then so did so many others that weren’t called…).

    That said, this whole Marrufo investigation started because Columbus appealed the Padula red card. Maybe there was communication behind closed doors–but I feel the public deserves a ruling (“We decided not to grant Columbus their appeal”) and maybe even a one-sentence justification since they’ve clearly agreed Marrufo screwed up.

    I’m not (nor do I think CBus is) arguing the card/jersey was a “deal”…but it definitely seems shady and I think this appeal deserves some consideration. Like the Marrufo suspension…if European leagues will acknowledge referee gaffes through disciplinary actions, so to will they turn over bogus card calls (e.g. Friedel’s red card)–can’t a mickey mouse league like MLS, figure it out?

  37. ThaDeuce says:

    anelka scores in first minute against fulham. I need a link! anybody got a link? I need a link I can watch on apple. ATDHE.NET is windows only for this game, BLAH.

  38. ThaDeuce says:

    Fulham scores!!!

  39. ThaDeuce says:

    wow, holy schnikes, its 2-1 chelsea in 10 minutes!!!!

  40. ThaDeuce says:

    found link
    link to justin.tv

  41. ThaDeuce says:

    anelka, malouda, and nevland

  42. garbaggio says:

    Brunner committed a red card worthy foul in the penalty area and got away scot free. Padula came in high with his studs showing and from some angles may have looked like he was trying to injure an opponent. Refs make incorrect calls frequently but fans are almost always wrong when they think there is bias involved.

    Marrufo has made his share of mistakes this season. None of them were payment in exchange for unsolicited sweaty jerseys.

  43. Alberto says:

    John you are the idiot. Clearly you are not a referee. If you were you would know that this is a common occurrence in Europe.

    I quote from Pier Luigi Collina’s own book, The rules of the Game. Page 204, Me and … my memories.

    “I have some truly special items in my collection, above all the shirt Ronaldo wore in the World Cup Final in Yokohama. And then Dieter Hamman’s from the same match, Jaap Stam and Mehmet Scholl’s from the Champion League final between Manchester United and Bayern Munich, Zinedine Zidane’s from Franc Spain in Euro 2000. My daughter Carolina has taken possession of the shirt Beckham wore in the match against Argentina in the last World Cup…”

  44. Alberto says:

    John next time before you open your mouth and make a comment, back it up with facts. Never assume it makes an ass out of you.


  45. jh says:

    I would be surprised if there was not a rule regarding referees acceptance of gifts. Maybe some sort of agreement they sign before signing a contract with MLS to ref games.

    I don’t know of one for an instance like this, but if there is a rule in place that states a referee can’t accept any sort of gift, it doesn’t matter if there is accepted practice in Europe. A rule is a rule, and if it was broken, the discipline is proper.

    Again, I don’t know of any rule, just suggesting an explanation. It would surprise me, especially after what happened in the NBA two years ago, if there was no rule concerning bribing or gift acceptance.

  46. Joamiq says:

    Alberto, while that’s a good point, Pierluigi Collina is almost above reproach. Among referees in the history of soccer, he is an exception, a figure who was almost bigger than the game, and was high profile enough that everything he did was highly scrutinized, so that in itself served as a form of accountability. Jair Marrufo is obviously not of the same stature, so I don’t think that’s a fair comparison to make.

    Also, Marrufo is American.

  47. Joamiq says:

    (that last sentence was in response to john, not a part of the preceding point)

  48. Jason says:

    Chicago should be docked a point and Columbus should be given two.

    The match was essentially fixed, so that should be the result.

  49. Chris May says:

    “Chicago should be docked a point and Columbus should be given two.

    The match was essentially fixed, so that should be the result.”

    The internet sure brings out the crazies.

  50. Chris May says:

    IIRC in Seeing Red, a book by Graham Poll (former top ref in the EPL) he talked about getting signed photos and stuff from players for friends/family, w/o it being a big deal.

    Anyone who thinks this was a “bribe” is an idiot.

  51. Alberto says:

    As I posted earlier Poll, Collina and many other referees have gotten token gifts like jerseys from players. Think about the tradition of exchanging jerseys between players. If Cristiano Ronaldo accepts a jersey from Cech does that mean he’ll sky one over his goal? Of course not. Totally out of control.