Fri, September 20, 2013

Canada, Sinclair won't face suspensions prior to bronze medal game

By CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency


Canada's Christine Sinclair celebrates scoring a third goal past the U.S. in the women's semifinal soccer match at the London 2012 Olympic Games at Old Trafford in Manchester on August 6, 2012. (REUTERS)


LONDON - Canada will have a full squad for the battle for bronze Thursday in the Olympic women's soccer tournment.

In what looks like some interesting tip-toeing by FIFA, the governing body for the game, a decision on discipline has been delayed after several Canadian players -- including Canadian captain Christine Sinclair -- ripped the officiating after Monday's semifinal loss to the Unityed States.

That will permit Canada to have a full team against France on Thursday.

The disciplinary committee needs more time to investigate, according to a FIFA spokesman.

"In view of the elements currently at its disposal, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee considers that further investigation will be needed regarding incidents that occurred after the conclusion of the match between Canada and the USA on 6 August at Old Trafford," said the statement.

"The FIFA Disciplinary Committee is therefore not in a position to take any decision at present. Further information will be provided in due course, but not prior to the bronze medal match between Canada and France on 9 August."

That doesn't mean the Canadian team, Sinclair and the other players who made comments critical of referee Christiana Pedersen of Norway won't face some kind of sanctions for their comments, they just won't be before Thursday's game.

It looks like a pretty good political compromise: Canada still gets all its players for the big game and FIFA is reserving the right to hand out at a later date a slap for questioning the integrity of the officiating.

Sinclair made perhaps the most volatile comment after Canada's 4-3 loss to the USA in extra time Monday.

"We feel like we didn't lose. We feel like it was taken from us," said Sinclair, who scored all of Canada's goals in the game. "It's a shame in a game like that, which is so important, that the ref decided the result before the game started."

Pedersen made a rare call when she penalized Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod for time wasting with 10 minutes left in regulation time. That led to an indirect free kick for the USA which resulted in a questionable hand ball call against Canada in the penalty area. American ace Abby Wambach scoring the tying goal on the penalty.

"The Canadian Soccer Association supports the work of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and will continue to cooperate fully," said Victor Montagliani, the president of the Canadian Soccer Association. "We will work closely with FIFA to ensure a prompt and fair resolution in this matter."

Meanwhile, the head of Norway's soccer referees, Rune Pedersen (it wasn't clear if he was any relation) predictably came out in support of the embattled Christiana Pedersen.

"The semifinal was an intense and demanding task. There were many battles, but the referee was in control all the time. Christiana was very close to the play. There were two difficult decisions in the match - an indirect free kick to the United States after 78 minutes, with subsequent penalty for hand ball.

"These decisions were tough to make and it showed Christiana was not afraid to do what she thought was right. We hope FIFA supports her in these decisions."

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

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