Canadian women's soccer star Christine Sinclair was handed a four-game suspension and fined a reported $3,500 Friday for her actions after a dramatic semifinal loss to the United States at the London Olympics.
The findings of a FIFA disciplinary committee panel were released by the Canadian Soccer Association, which said the discipline was for "displaying unsporting behaviour towards match officials."
The veteran captain from Burnaby, B.C., had all three goals for Canada that day at Old Trafford. Canada had the lead until the Americans pulled even late in the second half and prevented a big upset by adding the winner in extra time.
Recent soccer suspensions
- Chelsea captain John Terry was banned four matches by the English Football Association in September for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand of the Queens Park Rangers during a Premier League match in October 2011.
- FIFA imposed a two-match ban on Colombia player Lady Andrade for punching U.S. forward Abby Wambach during a match at the 2012 London Olympics.
- England forward Wayne Rooney was hit with a three-match ban by UEFA in October 2011 for kicking Montenegro’s Miodrag Dzudovic during the qualification round for the European championship. Rooney was forced to miss the first two games of Euro 2012.
The Canadians were left feeling robbed in a loss that they believed was decided by the officials.
"We feel like we didn't lose, we feel like it was taken from us," Sinclair said moments after the final whistle. "It's a shame in a game like that that was so important, the ref decided the result before it started."
The United States would go on to win the gold medal while Canada took the bronze.
The Canadian Soccer Association has requested the reasons for judgment and will not comment until they are received and reviewed.
The CSA's communications manager, Michèle Dion, told CBC News that Sinclair, who lives in California, would not immediately speak to the media.
The CSA later issued a news release saying Sinclair would address the media on a conference call on Monday.
Sinclair's mother Sandra told CBC News that she hadn't talked to her daughter and wouldn't comment on the situation.
Peter Montopoli, general secretary of the Canadian Soccer Association said earlier this week that FIFA's disciplinary panel met last Friday. Montopoli, coincidentally, was in Zurich at the time and asked whether he could take part. He was told no representation was allowed, with the explanation that the panel was reviewing many cases and not just Canada's.
Sinclair was the only Canadian player under scrutiny.
The ban is one of the longest in recent Canadian memory.
Fullback Paul Stalteri was suspended for four games after throwing a water bottle off the bench in protest of a nullified goal in a 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw with Honduras in Edmonton in 2004. His red card carried an automatic one-game ban and FIFA added a three-game suspension on top of it.
The Canadian women were upset about a call against goalkeeper Erin McLeod that led to Abby Wambach's game-tying penalty in the 80th minute.
McLeod was whistled for handling the ball for longer than six seconds. The Americans were awarded a free kick inside the box which bounced off the arm of defender Marie-Eve Nault, resulting in the penalty shot.
It's a rule that none of the Canadian players, nor coach John Herdman, nor even American coach Pia Sundhage, had ever seen enforced.
The Canadian women don't have any games scheduled in the immediate future. They are slated to reunite in December for a camp in advance of the Four Nations Cup in China in January. The Cyprus Cup follows that.
Several Canadians took to Twitter to criticize FIFA for suspending Sinclair.
Support for Sinclair
"Sinclair suspension dumbest thing I ever heard!! No guts to do it during the games, what's the point after?" wrote Canadian hockey star Hayley Wickenheiser.
Former Canadian and Olympic freestyle skiing gold medallist Jennifer Heil was equally angered.
"Outrageous! FIFA suspends Christine Sinclair for four games for "displaying unsporting behaviour to match officials."
Sinclair's teammate Emily Zurrer also chimed in.
"Really, FIFA?," she tweeted.
Broadcaster and former men's national team player Jason deVos was also critical of the decision.
"Christine Sinclair fined and suspended four matches by FIFA for 'unsporting behaviour'. Insert joke about FIFA here...," he said.
He added another tweet moments later.
"Imagine if FIFA had made that decision just after the incident had occurred! Yet another black mark for FIFA. .shambles."
Fans were also upset by FIFA's decision.
A Facebook page titled "Christine Sinclair: movement to help pay FIFA's unfair fine" was created within minutes of the announcement and many fans took to Twitter to voice their displeasure with FIFA.