FIFA may discipline Canadian players, coach over ref remarks
Christine Sinclair of Canada and her coach John Hedman talk
LONDON, England ● The governing body of soccer is considering disciplinary action over blistering comments made by Canada’s coach and players following a loss to the United States in the semifinals of the Olympic women’s soccer tournament.
FIFA says it will analyze the remarks by the Canadians, who were upset with the referee over a call rarely seen. Goalkeeper Erin McLeod was whistled for holding the ball too long, starting a sequence that led to the Americans’ tying goal late in the game.
The U.S. won 4-3 in extra time, advancing to Thursday’s title game against Japan where they’re guaranteed to come away with at least a silver medal. Canada was relegated to the bronze-medal match on Thursday against France.
FIFA spokesman Alex Stone told CBC’s Stephanie Jenzer that no time frame has been set for a decision on potential disciplinary action against the Canadian team.
A Canadian Soccer Association source, which spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the nature of ongoing investigation was related to comments made by players, but added that early indications from FIFA were that any discipline that was to occur would not involve suspensions, CBCSports.ca soccer contributor Ben Rycroft reported. The source added that any fines handed the players would be paid by the CSA.
In the semifinals, Canada was looking for its first win against the U.S. since March of 2001, a span of 27 games, but a pair of goals from Megan Rapinoe, and a late penalty kick from Abby Wambach got the powerful American squad to extra time, where Morgan came through with her late-game heroics.
Wambach’s penalty came after the Americans were awarded a free kick outside the Canadian box by Norwegian referee Christiana Pedersen when McLeod was whistled for the rarely called violation of holding the ball for more than six seconds. Marie-Eve Nault was charged with a handball in the penalty area on the ensuing kick.
Wambach revealed Tuesday that she subtly lobbied for the call by counting out loud when McLeod had the ball.
Canadian coach John Herdman was livid with Pedersen on Monday.
“She’ll have to sleep in bed tonight after watching the replays, she’s got that to live with,” he said. “We’ll move on from this, I wonder if she’ll be able to.”
McLeod said Pedersen told her that she had held the ball for 10 seconds.
“Not even close,” McLeod replied.
Christine Sinclair, who scored all three of Canada’s goals, said afterward that “the ref decided the result before the game started.”
Sinclair also said she pleaded with Pedersen to reconsider the pivotal call.
“She actually giggled and said nothing,” Sinclair said. “Classy.”
Sinclair felt the Canadians were robbed of a victory.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed and upset. We felt that the referee took it away from us, so, yes, we are disappointed. We feel like we didn’t lose, we feel like it was taken from us. It’s a shame in a game like that, which is so important, that the ref decided the result before the game started.”