Members of Canada’s women’s national team aimed pointed barbs at Norwegian referee Christiana Pedersen following their controversial loss to the United States in Monday’s Olympic Games semi-final.
“I hope you can sleep tonight and put on your American jersey because that’s who you played for today,” forward Melissa Tancredi told the official, according to a report in the Toronto Sun. Canadian captain Christine Sinclair accused Pedersen of “deciding the result before the game started,” according to Sports Illustrated.
Head Coach John Herdman also referred to “bizarre” refereeing decisions during Canada’s 4-3 loss in extra-time, settled by Alex Morgan’s winner in the third and final minute of stoppages.
“The ref will have to sleep in bed tonight after watching the replays,” said Herdman according to Associated Press reports. “She’s got to live with that. We’ll move on from this, I wonder if she’ll be able to.”
Pederen’s most controversial calls arrived back-to-back on 78 and 79 minutes with Canada leading 3-2 through Sinclair’s superb hat-trick. The referee awarded the U.S. an indirect free kick inside Canada’s penalty area after goalkeeper Erin McLeod had gathered Megan Rapinoe’s inswinging corner, waited for her congested box to clear and kicked the ball down the field.
Rule 12 of FIFA’s Laws of the Game states that goalkeepers cannot hold the ball for more than six seconds, yet this infraction is rarely whistled. Consistent application would have led to multiple free kicks being awarded at both ends throughout the game.
Rapinoe’s shot following Tobin Heath’s touch cannoned against Marie-Eve Nault’s elbow as the Canadian left-back instinctively flinched to shield herself from the ball. Rule 12 also states that a handball offense “involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with his hand or arm.” This plainly was not the case.
Those weren’t the only decisions that stunned the Canadians during an erratic performance by Pedersen and her assistants.
Corrupt officials are a rarity in sport and it’s nigh impossible to envisage that Pedersen arrived at Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium Monday seeking to influence the result in the Americans’ favor.
Still, the U.S. benefited from a lengthy list of unfathomable decisions by the 31-year-old Norwegian:
Pedersen’s Laundry List
First minute – Sinclair won the ball cleanly from Morgan near Canada’s penalty area. Pedersen awarded a free kick to the U.S., and Carli Lloyd drilled her shot wide of McLeod’s far post.
14 mins – Morgan chased a long ball down the left wing as Carmelina Moscato shepherded it out for a goal kick. Morgan reached the ball and played it against the Canadian center-back. The ball rebounded back off Morgan and out of play. The U.S. were awarded a corner kick.
31 mins – Abby Wambach bulldozed a Canadian opponent to the ground just inside Canada’s half yet the U.S. received a free kick. Morgan flicked Rapinoe’s deep cross wide of McLeod’s far post.
61 mins – Rapinoe tried to control a Canadian cross ball inside her own penalty area. The ball struck her body and made solid contact with her left arm before she completed her clearance. Pedersen allowed play to continue.
78 mins – Pedersen awarded an indirect free kick against McLeod for holding onto the ball for too long.
79 mins – Nault is adjudged to have deliberately handled Rapinoe’s close-range blast as she turned away to prevent the ball striking her in the face.
90 mins – U.S. substitute Sydney Leroux chased a long ball down the left wing, but the ball clearly crossed the end line for a goal kick before Leroux played it against Canadian right-back Rhian Wilkinson. Pedersen awarded a corner kick to the U.S.
Aug. 7, 2012 – Canada Stunned By Capricious Referee, Morgan’s Late Winner