Sinclair suspension highlights FIFA's convoluted ways | Soccer | CBC Sports

CanadaSinclair suspension highlights FIFA's convoluted ways

Posted: Monday, October 15, 2012 | 08:15 PM

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Christine Sinclair of Canada reacts during the heated loss to the United States, which cost the team a shot at an Olympic gold medal. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press) Christine Sinclair of Canada reacts during the heated loss to the United States, which cost the team a shot at an Olympic gold medal. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

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There are more questions than answers surrounding the suspension of Canadian women's soccer star Christine Sinclair, thanks to FIFA's vague disciplinary process

There are more questions than answers surrounding the suspension of Canadian women's soccer star Christine Sinclair.

Sinclair told the press today that she had no regrets for what she did following the Olympic semi-final. Her actions led FIFA to hand down a four-game suspension for "displaying unsporting behaviour towards match officials" and hand down a fine of 3,500 Swiss francs ($3,677 Cdn) for her trouble.

According to a Canadian Soccer Association official, the suspension and resulting fine were not for the much-publicized criticisms that she made to the press, involving Norwegian referee Christiana Pedersen.

The CSA would only confirm that incident in question occurred at the conclusion of the semifinal, that the actions involved were made in a public setting and that the details of what happened cannot be discussed as part of the disciplinary process.

Why they can't be discussed isn't exactly clear but it continues to speak to this culture of non-disclosure that exists under FIFA. And their refusal to put all the details of what happened on the table makes this incident all the more boggling.

If Sinclair had been suspended for her comments in the media that would have at least made sense - at least it would have made sense, in the FIFA sense of the word. Which is to say it would not have made any sense at all.

FIFA doesn't like it when people publicly criticize their referees. And FIFA really doesn't like it when it's implied that everything might have not been on the up and up. But they've suspended players before for making such statements, so at least it would have fallen in line with their warped way of seeing the world.

And for clarity's sake Sinclair, with her comments to the press, didn't mean that the game was fixed. She confessed today that her comments were made in the heat of the moment and that she genuinely didn't believe that the referee set out to ensure the USA won.

That knowledge should relieve the pressure from those whose tinfoil hats are affixed too tight, but it does little to explain why FIFA has handled this situation in the fashion they did.

Immediately following that game, FIFA officials announced that Sinclair would face discipline for her actions. It was vague, unfocused and generally left the impression that it would serve only as a distraction before their bronze-medal game.

Then they announced discipline wouldn't happen until after the Olympics. Then they took nearly two months to get around to addressing it. And now that they have, they are making no details available as to what Sinclair actually did.

So what are we to assume? Did Sinclair murder the referee? Has anyone actually seen Pedersen since? Can we confirm she is in fact not buried somewhere in London?

No, in all likelihood Sinclair probably told the referee, or some FIFA official, much the same as what she told the press - that Pederson did a piss-poor job of handling herself on that night and she was well out of her league.

Few on either side of the 49th parallel would have disagreed with that, as missed calls were littered all over the pitch on that evening.

But as it is with FIFA, and the way it handles world football, drawing attention to the obvious is more often than not met with fierce discipline. That can be found to be especially so when the comments make those in charge of assigning an inexperienced referee to a major event look bad.

In the world of FIFA, it's often better to have things left unsaid than to draw attention to the actual problems as they exist. Or in this particular case, it's better for FIFA to leave things left unsaid than to draw further attention to themselves.

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