Following the submission of a new video angle to the National Women’s Soccer League Disciplinary committee, the league reversed course and suspended Seattle Reign FC’s Merritt Mathias after her incident with FC Kansas City forward Shea Groom last weekend.
Both players ended up tangled after going up for a corner kick in Saturday’s match. When they both landed on the ground, Mathias seemingly pushed Groom’s face to the turf.
The NWSL office had previously announced Wednesday there would be no punishment for Mathias after a review by the Disciplinary Committee. But that review was reopened Friday morning after “new evidence” was submitted. The suspension was officially for “major game misconduct and unsportsmanlike conduct detrimental to the league.”
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“The ball was crossing off a corner kick and from what I could tell, I went up, she comes back in, and I came over the top of her and she got a little bit under my legs,” Groom said. “I’m thinking that’s where the altercation stemmed from. But you just can’t throw someone’s head on the ground. It’s not part of the game.”
Groom and Mathias were teammates at Texas A&M in 2011. Mathias also used to play for FCKC from 2013-14, before Groom was drafted.
Seattle and FCKC have a storied history in the NWSL, a league now in its fourth year. The teams played against each other in both the 2014 and 2015 championship games, both of which FCKC won. Reign FC also beat Kansas City earlier in the season, 1-0 in May.
Groom and FCKC will take on the Washington Spirit on Saturday, while Mathias will serve her one-game suspension during Seattle’s match against Boston.
“The majority of our fans at our stadium are young soccer players, and that doesn’t set any kind of example for them,” FCKC head coach Vlatko Andonovski said about the Mathias incident. “They don’t need to see anything like that, and I just hope that kind of thing doesn’t happen again in the future.”