Orlando City has issued a statement addressing Kaka's controversial red card against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, saying the club disagrees with the decision but will accept the Brazilian star's one-game suspension.
Kaka earned a straight red card following a scuffle in second-half stoppage time of Orlando's 3-1 loss at the Red Bulls after the referee analyzed footage as part of a video review.
While the 35-year-old playmaker put his hands on the face of New York defender Aurlien Collin, the gesture was clearly done in jest, with Kaka and Collin — former teammates at Orlando — both seen laughing.
Following the red card, Collin pleaded with the referee for leniency on Kaka's behalf to no avail.
MLS clubs can appeal red cards to an independent panel but are only allowed two unsuccessful appeals per season, including the playoffs. Orlando has not filed a red card appeal in 2017.
Here is Orlando's full statement:
"In the closing minutes of Saturday’s match between Orlando City and the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena, Orlando City captain Kaka was issued a straight red card following a playful interaction with former teammate Aurelien Collin.
"Immediately following the Video Review of the incident, several Orlando City players and Collin approached the referee to explain the friendly nature of the situation.
"After much deliberation, which included conversations about the global attention this incident is receiving from fans and media alike, the Club will respect the decision made by the Video Assistant Referee, the Professional Referee Organization and Major League Soccer to avoid further unjustified consequences that may come from appealing the decision made on the field.
"Though Orlando City SC fully supports MLS, PRO and the new Video Review system, the Club does not support the notion that Kaka — a role model known around the world for his upstanding character and demeanor — is guilty of violent conduct, defined as an attempt to use excessive force or brutality against an opponent when not challenging for the ball. Moreover, we also do not believe he deliberately 'struck' an opponent or any other person on the head or face with his hand or arm during the match.
"Kaka has only received two straight red cards in his illustrious club career, both of them in MLS.
"The Captain will accept the one-game suspension and help our Club and fans focus on the next task — the first home game in nearly a month for the Lions against a strong Eastern Conference opponent, Columbus Crew SC, at Orlando City Stadium this Saturday."