Rare delay of game call outrages Canadians
By QMI Agency
Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod (L) looks at the ball shot by American Alex Morgan (R, background) to win the women's semifinal soccer match at the London 2012 Olympic Games at Old Trafford Monday. (REUTERS)
It was a call that has enraged a nation.
Norwegian referee Christiana Pedersen whistled Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod for holding the ball longer than six seconds — a call many soccer veterans have never seen made before Canada’s 4-3 loss to the Americans Monday.
It resulted in a free kick for the U.S. team from 15 metres in front of the Canadian net. That shot hit Canadian defender Marie-Eve Nault in the hand, resulting in a penalty kick that was converted by American Abby Wambach to tie the score 3-3.
The call overshadowed everything else that happened in the game with many Canadian fans and players blaming it for the loss.
The rule was changed in the late 1990s, replacing the rule that limited goaltenders to taking four steps with the ball.
“They can now move as much as they want but they have six seconds to get rid of it,” said Bob Callahan, a former national list referee who has handled international friendlies and trained officials. “You see the rule abused all the time and no one does a damn thing about it. To be pulled at that particular time in the game is particularly annoying. It was a correct call but it was a shame she called it.”
Callahan has seen that call made on rare occasions, but it was difficult to find others who had seen it called at all.
“I’ve never called it and I’ve never seen it called,” said John Oliva, another Canadian who has been on the national referees list for more than 15 years. “I’ve never been instructed to be a stickler about it. It’s a very odd call to be made in that situation.
“Normally what happens is if I am counting in my head and it gets to three, four, five I’ll give a shoutout saying ‘let’s go, let’s go.’ Six seconds is by the law but there is a lot of leeway, a lot of leeway.”
“Goalkeepers are not permitted to keep possession of the ball in their hands for more than six seconds. The goalkeeper is considered to be in possession of the ball:
• While the ball is between his/her hands or between his/her hand and any surface (e.g., ground, own body).
• While holding the ball in his outstretched open hand --while in the act of bouncing it on the ground or tossing it into the air.
Restart of play:
• Indirect free kick from where the offence occurred.