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Major League Soccer, Real Salt Lake suspend coach Mike Petke; require he attend anger management courses

Real Salt Lake head coach Mike Petke looks on against the Colorado Rapids in the first half of an MLS soccer match, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017, in Commerce City, Colo.
Real Salt Lake head coach Mike Petke looks on against the Colorado Rapids in the first half of an MLS soccer match, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017, in Commerce City, Colo.
David Zalubowski, Associated Press

SANDY — Real Salt Lake head coach Mike Petke's mouth has gotten him in trouble once again, and this time the punishment is severe.

Following a verbal outburst from Petke toward game officials on July 24 as RSL lost 1-0 to Tigres UANL in the inaugural Leagues Cup at Rio Tinto Stadium, Major League Soccer announced on Tuesday that it has issued the following disciplinary actions for "the use of unacceptable and offensive language as well as repeated confrontational misconduct towards match officials":

— Petke will be suspended for three total games (he was already suspended for last Saturday's road contest against FC Dallas).

— MLS will fine him $25,000 and require that he attend anger management, sensitivity and diversity training beyond the training that all MLS clubs attend at the beginning of each season.

In addition, RSL will be suspending Petke from all club activity for two weeks without pay and he will be required to issue written apologies to both the league and the individual referees.

Finally, Petke was suspended by the Leagues Cup Competition Committee for three future Leagues Cup matches since RSL was eliminated from this year's competition on July 24.

“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,” MLS Commissioner Don 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 providing an environment in which all individuals are treated with dignity and respect at all times.”

A statement from RSL read in part: “We hold everyone in our organization — particularly the leadership — to the highest standards and expect them to treat everyone with dignity and respect. 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. ... 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.”

Petke has been twice suspended before for three games total since he became RSL's head coach in 2017.