Posted on August 6, 2012
By Michael Lewis
MANCHESTER — The Canadian women were calling foul on the referee after two fouls were called on them within a span of a minute at their 4-3 loss to the United States at the Olympic women’s soccer semifinals on Monday.
In fact, they were incensed over two calls by referee Christiana Pedersen (Norway) that helped change the course of the game at Old Trafford.
“We feel like we got robbed in this game,” goalkeeper Erin McLeod said. “The referee was very one-sided.”
Soft-spoken striker Christine Sinclair, whose hat-trick sparked Canada, was just as adamant.
“We feel like we didn’t lose,” she said. “We feel like it was taken from us. It’s a shame in a game like that, which is so important that the ref decided the result before the game started.”
They were referring to events that led to the U.S.’s third goal in the 80th minute. McLeod had been called for holding the ball for more than six seconds by Pedersen, resulting in a U.S. indirect free kick.
McLeod said the referee claimed she had the ball for 10 seconds. “She obviously counted the time when I was on the ground with the ball,” she said.
“There was a warning from the linesman at the start of the second half. She said ‘Don’t delay the play too much’ but it wasn’t like a real warning. I have never known this to happen in a game before. It was an interesting decision. Referees never make this kind of decision.”
But this time one did.
“Go and watch the replay of that decision,” Canada coach John Herdman said. “That’ll be replaying for the next 10 years in Canadian history.”
U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe fired the ensuing indirect free kick into the defensive wall and off the arm of Marie-Eve Nault, which resulted in a penalty kick.
“She [the referee] actually giggled and said nothing, Classy!” Sinclair said. “In an important match it’s a disappointment that the referee had such an impact on it. We feel cheated.”
U.S. striker Abby Wambach fired her kick into the lower left corner for a 3-3 deadlock before Alex Morgan’s goal, scored in the third minute of stoppage time in extratime settled matters.
Sinclair might have become the first player to register a hat-trick against the U.S. National Team, although they could not be confirmed after the game.
“To score three goals, that’s a moment in Canadian sporting history,” Herdman said. “That’s special. I don’t know how many times she’s done that beforeor how many other athletes have done something of that magnitude against all odds really.
“To come and score a hat-trick in the semifinals of the Olympic Games against their biggest rivals and to come away with nothing, there’s just something not right about it.”
The Canadians will face France in the bronze-medal match in Coventry on Thursday.
“Maybe the referee will wear a Canadian jersey for this game,” Sinclair said. “I wouldn’t want to be the team that plays us next. I’ve never been so proud of the team, even with the result knowing that we are not playing for gold. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Categories: Canada, North America, Olympic Qualifying, U.S.A., Women
Tags: 2012 London Olympics, Abby Wambach, Christine Sinclair, Erin McLeod, John Herdman, Megan Rapinoe