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Olympics2012Suspensions unlikely for Canadian women's soccer team

Posted: Tuesday, August 7, 2012 | 08:41 PM

Categories: Olympics2012

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Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod was very vocal in her criticism of Norwegian referee Christiana Pedersen following Canada's crushing semifinal defeat. (Hussein Malla/Associated Press) Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod was very vocal in her criticism of Norwegian referee Christiana Pedersen following Canada's crushing semifinal defeat. (Hussein Malla/Associated Press)

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It's a day later and the controversy surrounding the Canadian women soccer team's heartbreaking semifinal loss to the U.S. continues to swirl.
It's a day later and the controversy surrounding the Canadian women soccer team's crushing semifinal loss to the U.S. continues to swirl.

As the suddenly soccer-attentive Canadian media scrambled to explain how a delay of a game call could have been turned into an indirect free kick, the world's governing FIFA was busy adding a wrinkle to the storyline, while American forward Abby Wambach confirmed parts of it that were previously unknown.

FIFA announced Tuesday afternoon that it was reviewing the actions of Canadian players following the game. They gave no context and no time period for the review, but the implications were immediately clear to anyone who has been paying attention.

Christine Sinclair, Melissa Tancredi and Erin McLeod all gave more than a few colourful quotes following the conclusion of a highly charged game. Sinclair was the most blunt of the three.

"It's a shame in a game like that, that was so important, the ref decided the result before it started," she said.

Tancredi echoed her captain's feelings, recounting what she told Norwegian referee Christiana Pedersen following the game.

"I said, 'I hope you can sleep tonight. Put on your American jersey. That's who you played for today.'"

They were emotional comments made in the heat of the moment and ones that can easily be taken further than their intent. FIFA's laws on abuse of officials, during or following a game, are well established, and it does not favour the bold.

In April of this year, Aji Santoso, the coach of the Indonesia U-23 squad was fined $6,300 and suspended four games for accusing referees of accepting bribes in a World Cup qualifying match with Bahrain. Santoso's outburst came after four penalties were called in the first half against Indonesia and Bahrain led 10-0 in a game it needed to win by nine to move on to the next round.

Additionally, Santoso's comments were not directed to the press but those within earshot along the sidelines. He has since appealed and is still waiting for a hearing.

CSA exceedingly quiet

The Canadian Soccer Association, for its part, was exceedingly quiet Tuesday as it scrambled to learn more about the implications.

A teleconference call scheduled for 3 p.m. ET was delayed nearly an hour as the CSA struggled to accommodate the international requests for comment. When the call finally did get underway, Canadian head coach John Herdman, who was apparently oblivious to the day's goings on, asked for leniency on his player's part, saying he hoped, "people have empathy" for Sinclair and her teammates.

The rest of the call consisted of media pressing for answers on the matter, of which, Herdman was unwilling, or unable, to give any response.

A CSA 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. The source added that any fines handed out to the players would be paid by the CSA.

Meanwhile, Wambach, who after the game was alleged to have been instrumental in convincing the referee to make the controversial call, fully copped on Tuesday to her efforts to influence Pedersen.

"I wasn't yelling, I was just counting," she said. "I probably did it five to seven times. Yes it's uncharacteristic," Wambach said of her move and the resulting call. "But the rules are the rules. You can say it's gamesmanship, you can say it's smart, but I'm a competitor. We needed to get a goal."

For Herdman and his crew, their only goal now is a Thursday matchup with France for the bronze medal - a result Herdman has guaranteed.

"The players, they're in a space where they're ready to move forward," he said. "We're here to see the flag rise."

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