Whitecaps coach Vanni Sartini banned 6 games for ref outburst

Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach Vanni Sartini has been suspended a total of six matches and fined $20,000 by MLS on Thursday for multiple violations of league policy that occurred both during and after the team's playoff loss to LAFC on Nov. 5.

Sartini, 47, also must complete a league-approved behavioral assessment and comply with any recommended treatment, per the MLS.

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He will serve a one-match suspension for the red card during the Whitecaps' opening match of the 2024 season and an additional five matches to complete the punishment announced by the league.

Sartini was shown a red card in the 95th minute of a 1-0 setback to LAFC, which swept a best-of-three first-round Western Conference playoff series. Sartini's additional punishment stemmed from his entering the field of play in a confrontational manner and public criticism following the match.

He labeled referee Tim Ford's performance as "disgraceful" and made a joke saying he'd be a suspect if Ford was found dead following the match.

"Following our last match, I have taken the time to reflect, listen, and will always continue to learn," Sartini said. "As I shared at our end-of-season media conference, I am deeply sorry for my actions on the field, as well as my poor choice of words.

"I know that it is not easy to be a match official. This was not a good reflection of the respect that I have for the work that they do, so for that, again, I am sorry.

"I also regret that because of my actions, l will not be on the bench for the start of our MLS season. I have already been in contact with the league, and I am committed to all recommendations and will also look for additional opportunities to learn and grow."