PALO ALTO ADULT SOCCER LEAGUE
PLAYER CONDUCT POLICY & DISCIPLINARY SCHEDULE
Adopted June 6, 2017
Palo Alto Adult Soccer League ("PAASL") is a non-profit organization established to provide and maintain an adult soccer league, which aims to deliver an organized, recreational soccer experience to individuals in Palo Alto, California and surrounding communities. In order to best provide such an experience, the League Board of Directors ("BOD") passed a resolution on June 6, 2017 that a detailed Player Conduct Policy and corresponding disciplinary schedule (collectively the "Code") would be in the best interest of the organization and the individuals it serves.
The goals driving the creation of the Code are two-fold: (1) To adopt and sustain transparent behavioral and disciplinary guidelines which players, referees, and the BOD can reference and (2) To allow BOD enforcement thereof, and create a uniform and therefore predictable trajectory for disciplinary measures related to the infringement or violation of the Code (e.g. suspension, removal, etc.), thereby taking the guesswork out of disciplinary procedures for the BOD and clarifying the scope of BOD involvement in disciplinary issues for players and referees.
II. Adoption and Amendment of FIFA/IFAB Rules for Soccer and Delegation to Referees; Intent of Code.
It is not the objective of this Code to dictate any activity related to actual gameplay; thus, it should be noted that for the purposes of all soccer related activity, and/or all physical gameplay, PAASL has adopted, and shall hereby continue to adopt, enforce, and utilize official FIFA/IFAB Rules of play, unless not possible or feasible for practical or fiscal reasoning. PAASL has made several amendments updating these rules for adaptation to its recreational league experience, including limitations on slide-tackling, relaxed or "free" substitution rules, and so forth. PAASL rules may be found on the website.
The BOD does, and reserves the right to, delegate such enforcement and regulation of actual gameplay regulation to any referee(s) or referee association it contracts with, hires, or otherwise engages to monitor such gameplay. In doing so, the BOD also incorporates such referee deference to its own decision-making process with regard to behavior: the BOD may hereby utilize referee statements as the basis for disciplinary investigations. Referees shall act as an extension of the BOD on the field for investigative purposes, and referee statements shall be deemed as true and correct unless otherwise undermined or contested by additional statements (e.g., from players) to the extent the BOD deems referee statements to be overturned.
While this Code does not aim to regulate gameplay, it is possible that gameplay issues may overlap with, transform into, or simultaneously occur as behavioral incidents deemed worthy of BOD investigation. The BOD hereby grants the referees power to officiate gameplay, and in doing so, shall rely on referees to issue reports of behavioral concerns, including, but not limited to, red cards, repeat offenders, incidents of verbal or physical conduct, and so forth.
The intents and purposes of the creation, enforcement, and/or exercise of any PAASL disciplinary policy stated herein are to (a) protect players, referees, and any other individuals, (b) foster a safe and enjoyable experience for participants, (c) avoid any potential liability, and (d) maintain the good reputation of the League in Palo Alto and surrounding communities, including protection of the PAASL brand, the facilities it utilizes, and the service provider(s) it employs (e.g. referees).
Referees are to be given full authority and control over any match for which they are employed, contracted, or otherwise control under PAASL direction. While players may submit referee complaints to PAASL, on-field decisions must be honored, and referee decisions will be presumed affirmed by the Board. PAASL strives for consistency but also recognizes referees are individuals and may differ in rule interpretation, strictness or leniency, or level of involvement with players beyond active game duties.
III. BOD Investigative Powers and Scope of Authority
The adoption of referee(s) as an on-field extension of the BOD, for investigatory purposes, is hereby authorized and placed into effect; therefore, referee reports, whether verbal, written, or otherwise, may be deemed credible evidence in any BOD behavioral incident investigation. Additionally, the BOD also reserves the right to investigate actual or possible behavioral issues or concerns in any manner which it deems appropriate or useful, including, but not limited to, player statements, BOD observations, or any other statements or evidence presented which the BOD deems relevant. While referee reports are to be given substantial analytical weight, such reports' may be altered, disregarded, or overturned based on extrinsic or additional statements or evidence. Furthermore, such reports or statements need not be present to initiate a behavioral review, and the BOD is hereby authorized upon action of this Code to review any behavioral instance(s), based on any input of information, to analyze whether any infringement(s) or violation(s) have occurred, with or without a referee report.
The BOD may, at its discretion, elect and maintain a Behavioral Committee of three (3) to five (5) members of the overarching BOD in order to vote and decide on (a) the classification of behavior as an Infringement or Violation and (b) the proper disciplinary response. Upon election by the BOD as a whole, the Committee may, if elected, make and approve such behavioral investigations decisions without the entirety of the BOD; however, the outcome of such investigation shall be disclosed to the BOD as a whole.
The BOD shall only aim to engage in behavioral overview of conduct which occurs immediately before, during, and immediately after scheduled PAASL games, and which occurs on or in the direct vicinity of PAASL playing fields. The BOD shall further only aim to regulate behavior by registered players, as available reactionary measures taken by the BOD shall be limited to suspension and/or permanent or temporary removal as described below; however, the BOD may consider activity which involves unregistered participants if a sufficient nexus to a registered PAASL player is found, as well as requisite complementary ties to an official PAASL game and playing field (e.g. the known or continual furtherance of allowing non-registered players to play in official PAASL games may equate to a behavioral action against a registered player, even if that player did not exercise any per se prohibited conduct himself or herself).
Scheduled PAASL pick-up game sessions shall fall within the jurisdiction of BOD behavioral review upon adequate witness statements or BOD observation. Furthermore, "Ringers," or registered players from a current session attempting to play for a team other than their registered team in a game other than that player's scheduled game, shall be considered within the same behavioral framework as players assigned to any game in which an incident in question occurred. PAASL does not allow any players not currently registered for a current session to play in any PAASL game; thus, if a player is found to be playing in any PAASL game without confirmed registration in the current session, that player may be subject to any such behavioral action applicable to such person, which is likely to be the banishment from future sessions.
The BOD, or any designated Behavioral Committee acting on its behalf, may elect to investigate, whether formally or informally, any conduct it feels may be an encroachment of the policies contained within this Code. Such investigation may be initiated by, based upon, or otherwise engaged in due in part to of any of the following: referee reports, player testimony, player or public complaints, BOD observation, information from the City of Palo Alto or any designated representative, agency, or contractor (e.g. Peace Officer, field maintenance, etc.), or any other source the BOD sees fit and credible.
IV. Infringement and Violation Structure
The BOD issues and shall hereby utilize a simplified behavioral classification structure consisting of Warnings, Infringements, and Violations in order to ensure it is able to provide an enjoyable experience for players, as well as a consistent pattern of behavioral review and analysis, uniform disciplinary responses, and the enforcement thereof. The BOD shall adapt its behavioral review to such a structure that, after review by the BOD, or its Behavioral Committee, allots for the categorization of any such offense or action deemed to be "reviewable behavior" as described above, as either (a) No Action and/or Warning, (b) Infringement or (c) Violation.
The nature or classification of any such reviewed behavioral incident(s) shall allow full discretion of the BOD and/or any designated Behavioral Committee to select the nature of the offense (e.g. Infringement or Violation) and the appropriate reactionary response from the BOD or Behavioral Committee as prescribed by the structural pathway below.
Red Cards issued by any referee in a PAASL game are automatically cause for the issuance of a referee report, thus triggering automatic BOD review. The BOD then shall have the same privileges of review it sustains with any other conduct (whether in-game or not, or whether disciplinary action was taken in-game by referees or not) to apply to the player issued the red card; however, regardless of a full BOD behavioral determination, red cards are cause for a minimum one (1) week suspension, to be incurred whether or not the BOD subsequently deems the offense as further Infringement or Violation of this Code. Red Card suspensions may be extended as the BOD sees fit; any such suspension period shall run concurrently, simultaneously, or in lieu of any suspension period applied by the BOD for behavioral conduct, unless the BOD deems the nature of the red-carded offense to be rise to the level of removal.
Players agree, by the terms of registration, to follow the Code of Conduct and/or agree to abide by any such consequences of any Infringement or Violation thereof. Players shall not be issued any refund(s) for games missed or enrollment(s) terminated.
Any suspension(s) issued shall be comprised in "week" increments, rather than by "game" increments. Any such suspension is meant to cover the equivalent of the following week's game of the same League, and shall include any other PAASL games the player may be registered for which falls in between. Thus, if a player receives a one-week suspension due to an incident in the Evening League, and player is also enrolled in the Sunday League, said player shall miss his or her Sunday game and the following week's evening game (therefore a one-week suspension may equate to a two game suspension). Furthermore, if a one-week suspension is issued due to conduct in an Evening player's Tuesday night game, and the player's next game is on Thursday of the following week, a "one-week" suspension is meant to cover the following week's game, even if technically longer than one week chronologically.
A) Categorization of Conduct
The following categorizations are applicable to any behavioral incident for which the BOD or Behavioral Committee officially or unofficially chooses to investigate. The BOD reserves the right to investigate any behavioral incident which takes place before, during, or after, and within the vicinity of, any officially sanctioned PAASL activity. Upon a decision, the player(s) shall be notified of any subsequent penalty; players, however, shall be notified of any automatic suspension due to a red card before their next game.
Incidents, actions, or conduct occurring within PAASL oversight jurisdiction as described above, which, after review by the BOD or Behavioral Committee, are deemed to be unworthy of any suspension, shall result in a No Action and/or a Warning to the player. Any such incidents, even without any action taken by the BOD, may be recorded and utilized as evidence toward future investigations and corresponding suspension or removal proceedings. Red cards may be included in this category; thus, if a player is issued a red card, including the corresponding automatic/minimum one-game suspension, the BOD may decide the red card suspension is enough and consider the conduct as a Warning rather than an Infringement or Violation.
Infringements of this Code shall be defined as actions or behavior which substantially affect the integrity of the game, substantially degrade the player experience, jeopardize or dilute player safety standards, reflect poorly on the good standing of PAASL within its community, or any other similar acts seen fit by the BOD or Behavioral Committee to be treated as offenses or behavioral incidents which require suspension. Such incidents shall equate to suspension whether or not a red card was issued.
After full review, each Infringement, shall result in a minimum one-week suspension, or more at the discretion of the BOD. If the Infringement is tied to red card incident, the suspension period shall run concurrently to the mandatory minimum red card suspension period; however, the BOD may choose to extend the suspension period at its discretion. If the Infringement is not tied to a red card incident, the BOD may still issue any suspension period it sees fit in order to maintain a safe, enjoyable league. A written report informing player of the outcome of behavioral review shall be issued to the player within seven (7) days of receipt of the complaint or receipt of the associated referee report (if any), whichever is later.
A single Infringement may be upgraded to a Violation if the BOD, upon analysis of evidence presented or observations made, suggests. Multiple Infringements may equate collectively to a Violation, or any incident which may have otherwise been an Infringement may be treated as a Violation if the player in question has established a pattern of non-compliance with the PAASL behavioral Code and thus is deemed to negatively affect the experience for fellow players.
Violations of this Code shall be defined as actions or behavior which severely or repeatedly affect the integrity of the game, or cause immediate, actual, and bona fide safety concerns or other issues for players, referees, or others, and/or the accumulation of three (3) Infringements.
After full review, a Violation of the Code of Conduct shall result in removal, without refund, from the player's current session. Player may also be banned from any and all future sessions at discretion of the BOD or Behavioral Committee. Removal and/or exclusion from future sessions shall be Organization-wide, meaning that removal from the Evening Session shall result in removal from both Evening and Sunday Sessions if player is registered in both at the time of removal; neither shall include any refund. A written report informing player of the outcome of behavioral review shall be issued to the player within seven (7) days of receipt of the complaint or receipt of the associated referee report (if any), whichever is later.
Repeated Infringements of this Code may equate to a Violation, whether or not any single incident alone was deemed a violation, or the BOD may elect to treat any action that may have otherwise been an Infringement as Violation if the behavior is an ongoing incident or the player has repeatedly affected the PAASL experience, at the discretion of the BOD and based on the nature and severity of the repeated behavioral offenses. The BOD reserves the right to remove any player at any time, without refund, however pending Player notification and an informal hearing, if requested.
V. Code of Conduct
The following Code of Conduct is drafted in the interest of (a) Providing an enjoyable and positive experience for all registered players, (b) Protecting players, referees, and bystanders during and immediately before or after official PAASL games and on or within the direct vicinity of PAASL licensed facilities, and (c) Avoiding organizational liability and maintaining a positive reputation in the community in which it subsides (all players separately sign and waive from liability PAASL as an organization during sign-ups).
The occurrence of any of the following conduct shall be considered by the BOD or a designated Behavioral Committee when determining whether to issue any player a notification of (a) Warning, (b) Infringement amounting to Suspension, or (c) Violation amounting to Removal and/or Exclusion. Discrepancy between the different layers of disciplinary action shall be at the deference of the BOD and shall be based on the interpretation of the severity or frequency of the incident(s) in question.
Conduct Which May be Cause for Behavioral Review
1) Severe or continual offensive use of language and/or verbal treatment or harassment directed toward players and/or referees, including more stringent review for language which is alleged or found to be founded in a basis which impedes or attacks any protected class, race, sexual orientation, gender, or so forth.
2) Purposely destroying, defacing, damaging, or causing the partial or total loss of any PAASL, City of Palo Alto, or similar property or materials.
3) Aggressive play in a manner which clearly and/or repeatedly extends beyond the natural or anticipated scope of a recreational playing experience, including any repeated disregard for warnings; Any play which is known or should be known to the player as being implicitly or unnecessarily dangerous which puts at risk the safety of fellow players.
4) Any purposeful or non-accidental violence outside of the scope of play akin to direct or indirect physical attacks, including, but not limited to, punching, pushing, headbutting, kicking, tripping, stomping, spitting, grabbing, or in any other way assaulting or battering fellow players or referees. Most of such conduct shall trigger immediate analysis for a Violation worthy of removal or exclusion; the player shall have a substantial evidentiary burden to overcome in most such instances.
5) Knowingly participating as, or contributing to the participation of, unregistered player(s). The BOD may also consider the willful misrepresentation of a registered player attempting to conceal themselves as a "Ringer" thereby affecting the playing time and thus the experience of registered players playing in their own scheduled game.
6) Any Red Card shall be cause for review as described above; however, the multiplicity of Red Cards and/or Infringements or Violations may be cause for review on its own basis, without the need for an individual incident as a springboard to future sanctions.
7) Any other acts seen fit by the BOD or Behavioral Committee as substantially or severely affecting player experience, safety of players or referees, the maintenance of a good reputation of PAASL within the community, any act subjecting PAASL to any undue liability, or any other instance as deemed worthy of the BOD for disciplinary review.
The BOD shall reserve the right to take whichever reactionary measures it sees just and fit in response to any of the above conduct which affects the the game, its surroundings, or its participants in any way. The Board may deem any such behavior as minor offenses leading to a warning, Infringements leading to a suspension, or Violations leading to removal.
The BOD furthermore reserves the right to maintain records, whether written or otherwise, in order to build case files on players. Warnings and Infringements alike may be used as extrinsic evidence in contributing to new encroachments of the Code, and their potential upgraded status (e.g. conduct which may have otherwise been a "Warning" for a new offender may be deemed an "Infringement" for a player who has already been subjected to repeat warnings). The ability of the BOD to consider past Warnings and Infringements shall not expire with the passage of time between said instances and any new or future behavioral incident.
VI. Disciplinary Structure Pathway
The BOD is suggested to consider the following pathway in determining the implications for any player for suspected encroachments upon the behavioral Code:
1) What was the Conduct in question? Consider all relevant information available, including referee report, player statements, statements from team coordinators, BOD observations of the incident or in general.
2) Is Conduct, by its nature and classification deserving of:
a) No Action/Warning?
b) Infringement (substantially player affecting experience)?
c) Violation (severely affecting player experience)?
3) Does Player have any past transgressions that should be considered? The BOD may consider on-file incidents, general behavioral observations, or otherwise.
a) If so, do past incidents equate to an "upgrade" of current classification?
4) Is the conduct worthy of an Infringement? If so, how long of a suspension is warranted (if incident stemmed from a red card, an automatic suspension of at least one game is included; does the Infringement require added suspension time)? If the conduct is deserving of a Violation, either due to its nature or to repeated Infringing conduct, player is to be removed.
5) Inform player and/or team coordinator/referees.
The BOD reserves the right to make exceptions as it sees fit in order to remain aligned with its goal of providing an enjoyable soccer experience to its players, and may also consider mitigating factors, including provocation, in any alleged behavioral incident.
VII. Authorization of the BOD to Elect a Behavioral Committee
PAASL hereby authorizes the BOD to elect, if it so chooses, a "Behavioral Committee" of three (3) or five (5) individuals, to be comprised of entirely of, or by majority of, active BOD members, with the ability of the BOD to invite up to two (2) non-BOD stakeholders, to the behavioral committee, former BOD members whose terms have expired. The Behavioral Committee, if created, shall include at least one member from each of the following Divisions: Men's A (either Evening or Sunday), Men's B (either Evening or Sunday), and Women's. The Committee may, and should, consider input from all BOD members, however, a behavioral decision may be culminated by a vote from the Committee alone, for ease of decision from the BOD and to result in a quick turnaround time in order to provide the Player, the BOD, Team Coordinators, and Referees notice of any such decision made. Sufficient voting quorum for any such Committee must be made up of an entirety of the Committee; decisions must be made based upon majority vote. The Committee, if elected, may be disbanded at any time, reverting all such decision making to the BOD as a whole.
In the absence of the creation of any such Committee, the BOD as a whole shall vote on behavioral issues, and shall require only a majority vote of a majority quorum of active BOD members in order to ratify any decision (e.g. if the BOD is made up of fifteen individuals, only eight must vote in order to provide a behavioral decision, and five of the eight is therefore needed for any decision).
VIII. Appeal or Hearing Process for Players
Players are permitted and encouraged, upon notification of an impending behavioral review process, to submit any relevant evidence and information. The process may culminate in an informal hearing with League represenatives if requested by the Player. The BOD shall be obligated to review all such submitted material, with whichever weight is deemed appropriate and/or fair to the player under the circumstances. The BOD shall consider mitigating factors, facts alleged to be contested, third party witness statements proffered by the affected player(s) which contradict the referee report or other player statements, and so forth. BOD observations (e.g., of a BOD member present at any incident) shall take precedent and bear considerable weight in any behavioral decision.
IX. Official Ringer Policy
Abuse of the PAASL Ringer Policy may be cause for behavioral review, and if persistent, may amount to an Infringement of the Code.
The official PAASL Ringer Policy is that any player, registered for a current session, may play in a game of the same session which is not his or her own registered game; however, the ringing player must allow preference to registered players partaking in their own registered game. A registered player playing in his or her own game may therefore request a substitution from a ringer at any normal substitution time during the game. The same shall be true even where a Ringer is present at the start of a game which, at its start, was at less than, or exactly at, full-capacity. Registered players shall always take precedence on their own teams, even if late for a game. Multiple Ringers should share time evenly, and allot the greatest possible playing time to registered players attending their own game. Ringers shall proclaim themselves as such in any game and should not attempt to conceal their involvement as a Ringer.
Ringers may not play in games outside of their own registered Session under any circumstance. Evening Players may not play in any Sunday game unless also registered for the Sunday session, and vice versa.
Within the Men's Leagues, Ringers should also only play within their own registered division ("A" or "B") within their registered League (Evening or Sunday). In the instance that Ringers are present and a game is at less than 100% capacity (22 players present overall across two teams and Ringers present from that Division), a Player may play as a Ringer in a game not of his Division (e.g. a "B" Player may play in the "A" Division so long as that Player is registered within the same corresponding Evening or Sunday session). Players from the "A Division" should refrain from playing in the "B Division" unless absolutely necessary to establish the proper quantity of players to sustain a game. Such cross-division ringers should play goalkeeper where possible.
If a Team Coordinator, Division Coordinator, or Board Member is confident that a team has sufficient players to complete a game, the team coordinator may request that a Ringer forego his or her involvement (e.g. if a team has 15 of its registered players present, and a Ringer would equate to the team having 5 substitutes, the team coordinator may effectively remove the Ringer).
Ringers may play in any game of a session for which they are registered, without limitation; however, the abuse of this may lead to Infringement. Abuse of the Ringer Policy may be committed by improperly playing in a Division for which the Ringer is not registered, using the Ringer policy as a method of playing in the Player's desired Division which may have been full at registration time, falsifying enrollment on a certain team to primarily play with friends not on a Player's registered team, or refusing to substitute out for players at their own games and/or failure leave a crowded game upon the request of team coordinators or referees.
X. Player Risk Assumption
By registering for any session, Players acknowledge that soccer is an inherently dangerous sporting activity, and Players thereby assume the risk for their own safety and shall partake in all activities "At Player's Own Risk." PAASL does not carry any injury insurance on behalf of Players.
Players further acknowledge that any suspensions or sessions from which players are prohibited from playing by terms of enforcement of this Code shall not be entitled to any refund, either in full or in part.
PAASL and its Board of Directors shall reserve the right to change, alter, or update this Code without notice to or authorization from Players.