Fri, September 20, 2013

Olympic soccer referee in bad company

By QMI Agency


Norweigan referee Christiana Pedersen's controversial call during the Canada-U.S. women's soccer semifinal at the Olympics Monday was blamed by the Canadian players for sealing a narrow win for the Americans. (AFP)


Oh, Christiana Pedersen. It must be a lonely feeling, after having officiated the Canada-U.S. women's soccer semifinal and doled out a truly controversial call that helped turn the game's tide for the U.S. — thus earning the scorn of about 30 million Canadians.

But don't worry, you're in bad company.

Plenty of referees have made controversial, contentious and questionable calls over the years in sports. Here's a quick list of calls made by people who no doubt know exactly what you're going through:

HAND OF GOD

Diego Maradona's most celebrated (and bogus) goal was scored against England in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final. One of his two goals in the 2-1 Argentina victory was clearly knocked into the net by Maradona's closed fist, but no officials saw the play and the goal was allowed. For years, Maradona denied cheating, though he added "even if there was a hand, it must have been the hand of God." He eventually admitted to what everybody already knew.

CUP-WINNING GOAL

In 1999 the NHL had instituted a rule that was destined to cause problems -- if a player had any part of his foot in any part of the goalie's crease during a goal, it was disallowed. Unfortunately for hockey fans (and Buffalo especially) push came to shove during game six of the Sabres-Dallas Stars Stanley Cup Final when Brett Hull scored the Cup-winning goal in overtime which much of his left leg in Dominik Hasek's crease. Video review officials upheld the goal, saying Hull had possession of the puck throughout the play and was therefore OK to have a skate in the crease.

THE TRIPLE PLAY THAT WASN'T

In Game 3 of the 1992 World Series, Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Devon White made a catch that led to what should have been the second triple play in Fall Classic history. White made a miraculous catch of Atlanta's David Justice and threw to first to double up Terry Pendleton. First baseman John Olerud then threw to third baseman Kelly Gruber, who chased down Braves baserunner Deion Sanders and tagged him on the heel before Sanders could get back to second base. But umpire Bob Davidson blew the call, ruled Sanders safe and sparked outrage among conspiracy-minded Canadians.

THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM

The 1972 Munich Games. The height of the Cold War. The U.S. playing the Soviet Union for gold in Olympic men's basketball. How could it not end in controversy? With the Americans leading 50-49 with three seconds remaining, the Soviets in-bounded the ball and failed to score — but the referees stopped the game, claiming the Soviets had called a timeout. So the Soviets were given another chance and in-bounded again, and failed again. As the U.S. celebrated, officials decided that because the original three seconds weren't put back on the clock, the play had to be done over. Of course, the Soviets scored this time and won 51-50. The Americans refused their silver medals, which instead went to a Swiss bank vault.

THE GRETZKY NON-CALL

Game 6 of the 1993 Stanley Cup semifinal remains one of the most painful events in Toronto Maple Leafs history. With the game tied in overtime, Leafs captain Doug Gilmour was high-sticked by Los Angeles Kings superstar Wayne Gretzky, a penalty everyone saw except, apparently, Kerry Fraser. The Great One wasn't sent off and not long after scored the game-winning goal. Of course, L.A. went to Toronto and won Game 7 to head to the Stanley Cup Final and Leafs fans earned another scar on their collective soul.

PERFECT STORM

Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga had pitched a perfect game into the ninth inning, with just one out left. When Jason Donald hit a ground ball to first baseman Miguel Cabrera and he tossed it to Galarraga, who was covering first base, perfection had been achieved. Except, of course, for the unbelievable blown call by umpire Jim Joyce, who called Donald safe, killing both the perfect game and the no-hitter. Joyce, to his credit, did admit he made a mistake and Galarraga earned praise for graciously forgiving the ump.