Captain Dwight Yorke will miss Trinidad and Tobago's next two World Cup qualifiers-against Honduras (March 28) and the United States (April 1)-and may be suspended for as many as four matches due to his actions at the end of Wednesday's game against El Salvador in San Salvador.
The final whistle had already been blown, ending the match at 2-2 following El Salvador's equaliser which came with the final kick of the match, in the fifth minute of added-on time. Yorke, who had already picked up a yellow card for a simple foul earlier in the match, was then issued a straight red after presumably less than complimentary remarks directed to the Mexican referee.
T&T team manager David Muhammed confirmed yesterday that Yorke received two cards on the night, a yellow and then a red. He said the 37-year-old defensive midfielder faced a two- or three-match ban, but hoped for the lesser sentence.
However, former FIFA referee Osmond Downer felt the veteran may be out for as many as four of Trinidad and Tobago's nine remaining World Cup qualifying matches.
"From where we were on the bench, it appeared that Dwight received a straight red after the final whistle was blown," said Muhammed. "From what I understand, it was insurbordination to the referee and would have been a straight red card.
"He got a yellow earlier and he also had a yellow from the Guatemala match (in 2008) so that is an automatic one-match suspension.
"Then he got the red card, so we are looking at possibly two or three matches out."
Muhammed reported that, unlike what normally happens, they had not yet received a referee's report on the match.
He felt Yorke's reaction might have been out of frustration with the ref when the match went beyond the four minutes which the fourth official added on for injuries at the end of the 90-minute relegation period.
Muhammed, who described Yorke as a natural leader on the field, said the T&T technical staff will meet and formalise a plan to deal with his absence.
Downer, a FIFA referees assessor and former head of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association, believes that Yorke's situation is serious enough that he may have a long suspension.
Yorke's case is similar to that of Peru's Jose Paolo Guerrero. The FIFA Disciplinary Committee handed striker Guerrero a six-game ban for insulting the match official during his country's 2010 World Cup qualifying defeat against Uruguay last year.
The game was played on June 17 in Montevideo. The suspension, which is accompanied by a fine of CHF10,000, meant the Hamburg player cannot represent his country in a competitive match until June 6, 2009, when Peru host Ecuador in another qualifier.
"If Dwight had gotten a yellow card, followed by another, the referee would have then issued him a red card and he would have gotten a one-match suspension," Downer said. "But from what I saw, he seems to have gotten a yellow first, and then a straight red. I have seen a lot of that, and if that is the case then Dwight could face a two-, three- or a four-match ban."