In case you missed the so-called “Decision Day” of MLS games this past weekend, a player named Kei Kamara scored a goal. All agree twas a nice goal of the finest variety, one worthy of celebration. Of course, players have shown emotion and excitement after the scoring of a goal for time eternal. And since Roger Milla danced for Cameroon in the World Cup, the rhythmic movement of one’s body has long been part and parcel of said celebrations.
Yet Kei Kamara got wrongly punished.
Please allow me to go into “WebJD” mode and put on my online law degree Barrister goggles. LADIES, GENTLEMEN AND POST BINARY GENDER IDENTITY MEMBERS OF THE JURY: exhibit a. The videographic evidence.
After scoring his goal, please note that Kei Kamara then proceeds to run to the end line, squats a bit and violently shakes his rump for a grand total of, at the most, four seconds. Later, near the center circle, the referee brandishes him with a yellow card.
Of course, the political and sociological implications of vibrating one’s derriere is beyond this simple and humble blog post. Instead, we will internet lawyer up. First, we note that, after a cursory Google Search and not clicking on a single link in the results, the MLS CBA and general player Code of Conduct does not include any categorical ban on twerking.
Twerking has, of course, existed for decades both officially and in less official channels. Ergo, during the last round of CBA talks, MLS management could easily have flexed it’s muscle and said: “Water downed Free Agency or Twerking – BUT NEVER BOTH. YOUR MOVE, MLSPU.”
Our friends from the UK have pointed to the FIFA regulations as the statutory basis for this punishment. However, I disagree. There are three types of goal celebrations that are banned. (1) Taking off your shirt, even partially. (2) Climbing up onto a fence. Kei did neither of those two things.
But, wait. There’s a third. Dammit. There’s always a third. (3) “In the opinion of the referee”, the celebration was “provocative, derisory or inflammatory.”
This section greatly troubles me. First, it is incredibly subjective. Referees can’t even get offsides right and miss penalty calls all the time – how can we trust them to regulate a true art like dance? Second, Kamara’s celebration does not meet this test in any possible way.
While his twerking certainly caught the eye, I don’t think it really “provoked” anyone in any sense of the word. I looked up the word “provoke” on three different websites, none of which I care to name, and not a SINGLE ONE used twerking as an example of provocation. (Pounds gavel). Caso cerrado!
Lastly, Kei Kamara is a professional athlete – yes, he is in his 30s and has put on some pounds, but I would hesitate to call his nalgas “inflamed” or even “inflammatory.” Conversely, his celebration could only be “derisory” to the surfboard butt white players who wish they could 1) Score a goal and 2) Occasion a 1.5 Richter scale blip with a dip and a hip shake.
Sour grapes, my friends. Sour sour grapes. But what were we talking about again?