Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Not punished enough?
FIFA considering action over caustic Canadian comments
LONDON -- FIFA is considering disciplinary action over blistering comments from the Canadian women's soccer team about the refereeing of their semifinal loss to the United States at the London Olympics.
FIFA says its disciplinary panel is "analyzing incidents that occurred after" Canada's 4-3 defeat following extra time on Monday.
Complete coverage of the Paralympic games in London.
Canadian forward Christine Sinclair, who scored all three goals, said "the ref decided the result before the game started," coach John Herdman wondered aloud how the referee -- Norwegian Christiana Pedersen -- would be able to sleep after two "bizarre decisions" and keeper Erin McLeod said "We feel like we got robbed," after the match.
Canada was upset by an indirect free kick awarded against goalkeeper McLeod for holding the ball too long late in normal time. The free kick struck Canadian Marie-Eve Nault in her arm, resulting in a call of hand ball in the penalty area and awarding a penalty kick to the Americans.
Abby Wambach buried the penalty to equalize the score at 3-3.
Despite their anger, the Canadians don't intend to protest the result. They play France for the bronze medal Thursday.
Meantime, opinions about the two calls appeared to vary depending on which side was speaking out. U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said it was clear McLeod "broke the rule" by delaying the game and American soccer columnist Mike Woitalla, writing in the online newsletter Soccer America Confidential, pointed to rules about hand balls and delay-of-game in supporting Pedersen's calls.
Woitella wrote that McLeod admitted to being warned at the half and that Nault may clearly have been defending herself but still moved her arm into the path of the ball in violation of soccer's hand-ball rules, which he wrote are silent on issues of protecting oneself.
"So if there is injustice in the call," he wrote, "it's the rulebook's fault and not Pedersen's."
Wambach says she counted out loud when McLeod held the ball.
Herdman said Wambach's comments demonstate her desire to win.
"She knows how to win football matches," said Herdman. "At the end of the day, this is why teams go on and win. They find ways to win. If Abby's done that, then good on her. She's found a way to find a loophole in the system that might punish a team. ... She'll do anything to win a football match."
Herdman said his players can learn from Wambach's actions. But Canada has enough to think about during games.
"I certainly won't be asking my players to go and do that," said Herdman. "I think they'll just go and play football as long as the referees officiate games, which is their job to do."
Herdman said his deeply disappointed players have to pick themselves up again and set their sights on getting on the podium.
"These next days are going to be crucial," said Herdman. "We can just minimize distractions and be ready to get absolutely clear about achieving the task and making the country proud by seeing that flag rise."
A spokesman for the Canadian Soccer Association says the team will not comment on the investigation until FIFA makes a decision.
-- The Canadian Press, with files from USA Today and the Los Angeles Times
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 8, 2012 D1
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