Sorry, Canada, the ref was right

Many were surprised -– and Canadians were outraged –- that Norwegian referee Christina Pedersen awarded the USA an indirect free kick because Canadian keeper Erin McLeod took more than six seconds to release the ball.

The free kick led to a hand-ball call that gave the USA the penalty kick Abby Wambach converted to tie the game 3-3 in the 80th minute and enabled the Americans to defeat Canada in overtime.

“We feel like it was taken from us,” said Canada captain Christine Sinclair, who scored all three of her team’s goals. “We feel cheated.”

“We feel like we got robbed in this game,” said McLeod.

It’s easy to feel for Sinclair, coming out on the losing end after such a terrific individual performance. But it’s McLeod who’s to blame.

She took at least 11 seconds -- from the time she got to her feet -- to punt the ball into play. Based on that alone, the call was correct.

Critics of the decision are saying it was inappropriate because they hadn’t seen such an infraction punished before. That’s certainly not Pedersen’s fault. The only question for Pedersen is why she didn’t make the call earlier.

On five occasions, beginning in the fourth minute of the game, McLeod held the ball for more than 15 seconds, well over twice the permitted time. In the 58th minute she held the ball for 17 seconds, in the 59th for 12 seconds, in the 61st for 16 seconds, in the 68th for 11 seconds.

It's reasonable to assume that Pedersen believed she finally had to take action late in the game as McLeod delayed play once again with the USA behind a goal in the 77th minute. It's also reasonable to expect an Olympic goalkeeper to be familiar with the rules. (And Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl reported that McLeod admitted she was warned by an assistant referee at halftime.)

Of course, we wouldn’t be talking about this if the ensuing indirect free kick hadn’t struck Marie-Eve Nault’s arm, forcing Pedersen to make one of the referee’s most difficult calls: Was it a deliberate handball?

It would take a mind-reader to know if Nault deliberately handled the ball. FIFA’s rulebook guidelines instruct the referee to take into consideration “the movement of the hand towards the ball (not the ball towards the hand)” and “the distance between the opponent and the ball (unexpected ball).”

On the second point, Nault would have expected the ball to come her way because she was standing in front of a free kick. On the first point, her hand did move toward the ball.

The biggest problem with Pedersen’s PK call –- and a reason to sympathize with Nault –- is that had she not raised her arm she would have gotten blasted in the chest. A case can be made that she was punished for protecting herself. That, however, is not something referees, according to the FIFA Rulebook, are supposed to take into consideration.

So if there is injustice in the call, it’s the rulebook’s fault and not Pedersen’s.

107 comments about "Sorry, Canada, the ref was right".
  1. Heejo Yoon, August 7, 2012 at 4:20 a.m.

    Mike, you are one of those idiots who thinks knows everything about soccer by just reading the rule book. Look at where Pedersen was through out the game. She was out of position frequently, guessing calls. Was warning given to the Canadian goalIIe by Pedersen for delay? No. Yellow card at best would've be the right call. When was the last time anyone saw free kick given in a 6 second rule? U7 maybe? What about Hope Solo and her delays? No warning, no nothing on her. Then the hand ball call. Was the hand ball intentional? No. What about the no hand ball call on Rapinoe? Inconsistently. Horrible ref. USA is a better team but not yesterday. Check Pedersen's bank account she got paid. Canada got robbed. Mike get a real job you moron.

  2. Jack vrankovic, August 7, 2012 at 6:28 a.m.

    Yellow card would have been the right call for constant infringement.
    I thought women were allowed to protect their breasts from being violently struck by the ball.

  3. David Mont, August 7, 2012 at 7:10 a.m.

    For all those who think they know what the right call should be -- read The Laws of the Game, and, specifically, rule 12: An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper, inside his own penalty area, commits any of the following four offences:

    controls the ball with his hands for more than six seconds before releasing it from his possession...

  4. Marko Rauhamaa, August 7, 2012 at 7:22 a.m.

    Both calls were by the book. Appropriate leniency was shown by only calling the repeated offence.

    You can't really award a yellow card without a free kick while the ball is in play. The only exception would be to give the advantage, which didn't apply here.

    The hand ball was obvious. Protecting yourself as a reflex makes it handling.

    It would do good for the men's pro refs to read the Laws of the Game again. Too many fouls are ignored.

  5. David Mont, August 7, 2012 at 7:22 a.m.

    Heejo, how come you so conveniently neglected to mention at least a couple of clear fouls by the Canadian defenders in their own penalty box that went unpunished? Or is the rule book (more precisely, the laws of the game) is just for morons and idiots and not for such intelligent and knowledgeable experts like you who know better?

  6. Bruce Mazurkewicz, August 7, 2012 at 8:35 a.m.

    No such thing as a handball in soccer - the penal foul is called deliberate handling - learn the Laws if you wish to comment on them - the defender was facing the ball, turned her body, and raised her forearm to block the ball as it was going to go past her on goal - great call by the referee. Canadians hacked the daylights out of Morgan and Tancredi should have been sent off about 6 times - she's nothing but a thug.

  7. Ramon Creager, August 7, 2012 at 8:56 a.m.

    First, the easy stuff. yellow card for this is incorrect. A yellow given for taking too long to take a goal kick is correct, for example, but for taking too long to release the ball the correct call is an indirect kick given to the opponent at the spot of the foul. Now for the harder stuff. For those of you who are claiming "by the book" on this, you should know that in soccer it is the spirit of the Law that counts, more than the letter. That is why there is an Interpretation section to the Laws. The Laws have a clear purpose, and it is the violation of this purpose that counts. The key is this: did the referee deem that the GK was violating the spirit of this rule (i.e. intentionally delaying the game to gain advantage)? If so, the call was correct. But if both GKs were doing this and she only penalizes the one from the team that is in the lead, then this is not correct, it is arbitrary. So, relevant to this question, how long was Solo holding onto the ball? As to the hand-ball, while it may have been correct by the letter of the Law, it clearly did not violate the spirit of the Law. If the ball would have struck the player's chest anyway, the act of defending a body part doesn't have a material effect on the game. The player was not attempting to gain a competitive advantage. Bad call. (For more on this read "For The Good of the Game: Modern Techniques and Practical Wisdom for Today's Soccer Referee", by Robert Evans and Edward Bellion, two former FIFA refs.)

  8. Marc Silverstein, August 7, 2012 at 8:56 a.m.

    and Heejo, if you don't like the 6 seconds rule feel free to lobby FIFA and get them to change it. Good luck with that though.

  9. Spence Millen, August 7, 2012 at 9:20 a.m.

    Mike, if you go back and watch the game, it appears that about 5 mins later Hope Solo fields a shot and then keeps the ball in her hands in the box for about 15 seconds, prior to rolling it forward and playing it off the ground up field. If it's fair one way, why wouldn't the same strict standard be held for the other side too. Yes, it's is a rule, but it's sort of like having too much pine tar on your baseball bat. In other words, it's rarely, rarely, rarely enforced. To have it enforced in this situation seems awfully harsh...particularly if they don't blow the whistle on Solo soon thereafter.

  10. Ramon Creager, August 7, 2012 at 10:11 a.m.

    Here is part of the USSF's take on this: "The six-second count does not begin until the goalkeeper is clearly in possession of the ball and ABLE to think about releasing the ball into general play. Not while the goalkeeper is on the ground; not while he or she is recovering from a fall; not while he or she is rising: Only after the goalkeeper is clearly alert and ready to function. Anything beyond that time is a matter for the individual discretion of the referee, who is the sole judge of the passage of time in a soccer game. [...] Finally, a point we emphasize in our answers to this and similar questions about goalkeeper release of the ball: Most of the time the offense is trivial as long as you are seeing an honest effort to put the ball back into play." ( Again, what we see here is that the intent of the rule ("an honest effort to put the ball back into play") is what matters, not the letter of the law ("6 seconds"). Since in the USSF's interpretation it is the referee's judgement here that counts, if both GKs were releasing the ball in similar times, and the referee only called one GK for the violation, then it's a bad call. She's not applying the same standard to both teams. Further, Mr. Woitalla says "She took at least 11 seconds -- from the time she got to her feet -- to punt the ball into play. Based on that alone, the call was correct.", but based on the USSF answer above this is not so. The referee did not have to start counting from the moment she got to her feet, and 11 seconds is pretty typical in any case and doesn't represent a non-trivial offense. Cheesy call.

  11. Bruce Mazurkewicz, August 7, 2012 at 10:30 a.m.

    Referees tend to judge time wasting more closely when the team with the lead does it with time running out - correct call as the GK was trying to cheat

  12. kyle davies, August 7, 2012 at 10:39 a.m.

    Bruce Mazurkewicz... you're right that delay tends to only be called on the leading team, but this whole argument is that the referee made the call "by the rulebook", so was therefore justified. Nowhere in the rulebook does it say that the team with the lead should be held to a different standard than the team in a tie game. Solo held the ball way longer than 6 seconds multiple times but was never called. Look, both teams played well, but there is NO DOUBT the Americans benefited from questionable refereeing. Maybe the Americans would have scored again anyways, but IMO the refs robbed this game of a fair and natural outcome.

  13. David Mont, August 7, 2012 at 11:14 a.m.

    Ramon, so are you saying that the Canadian goalkeeper was not alert and able to function when she was on her feet?

  14. Carl Grover, August 7, 2012 at 11:21 a.m.

    Heejo, you are the one who is the moron here.
    I will send you a rule book if you will read it. The referee is given the power to decide rule violations. The Canadian goalkeeper was given a warning at halftime for taking too long. A yellow
    card can be given only on a goal kick for "time wasting". An indirect free kick for not putting the ball back into play within the rules after recovery. Officials have a VERY difficult task and mistakes are made(Canadian player Tancredi should have had two yellows for persistent infringement). The bottom line is it was an exciting game to watch and the dominating USA team won. They might lose again to Japan for the same reason as last year - a weak back line defense. Sinclair was the
    best player on the pitch but Brazil, Japan last year and France and Canada this year took advantage of that defensive weakness. It will be an fun game to watch. I have great respect for all these soccer players and the REFEREE who must make split second decisions in tense and stressful situations.

  15. Carl Grover, August 7, 2012 at 11:42 a.m.

    In reference to "handling the ball" call. This is an
    example of the split second call the referee must make at times. What I saw from my easy chair eating pizza was the player behind the player
    that was trying "to protect herself" stick her arm out and defleck the ball again. Perhaps that
    was the call that the referee was making not the first one.

  16. Albert Harris, August 7, 2012 at 11:44 a.m.

    Nice to see all the arguing is about the proper interpretation of the rules and hasn't descended into name calling. (Sarcasm Alert)

  17. Bruce Mazurkewicz, August 7, 2012 at 11:58 a.m.

    Kyle - u r correct that the leading team should not b held 2 a different std - however, the referee needs to take the spirit of the into account and this is what she did

  18. Ramon Creager, August 7, 2012 at 12:19 p.m.

    David, I though I made myself perfectly clear. Go and read the USSF interpretation at the link I provided if you haven't. When I refereed I'd consider delay only after, as the USSF says, the 'keeper is able to think about delivering the ball. There is no mention of being on her feet. That was Mr. Woitalla's "standard", not mine or any other ref I worked with. If someone is in her face, for example, I wouldn't start the count. As for the supposed "warning at halftime" that Carl talks about, that's a non-starter. Warnings, if they are issued, should be given at the time of the infraction, during play. See Steve Davis for more on this supposed "warning" here: For those of you persisting in trying to justify the unjustifiable, try this: Would you be justifying such a call if the US had lost because Solo had been called on a trivial infraction that is *never* called in professional games, because she held on to the ball a mere 11 seconds? (Which she and every GK routinely does and will continue to do.) I've got a pretty good idea as to the answer.

  19. David Huff, August 7, 2012 at 12:47 p.m.

    It seems like a very borderline call was made on the GK's handling. However, there were other non-calls made with respect to both teams and their physicality near their PA boxes that could have made a similar impact if they had been called. That's soccer though, refereeing is inherently subjective ("in the opinion of the referee . . .") and so is always capable of being subject to dispute and controversy. It's fair to say though, that both teams were level at 3-3 going into ET and each arguably had a shot at coming away with the final victory, the US was just able to make something happen there at the end. @ Heejo, your vitriol appears off-base and misplaced but is eerily reminiscent of past displays by the North Korean regime in connection with explaining unpalatable losses to their masses.

  20. Joseph George, August 7, 2012 at 1:22 p.m.

    Folks, as an American born GK, who has played at the professional level, and a ref for many years. I was pulling for the US to win this game. However the Canadians have a beef here. If for no other reason than the ref in this game did not enforce the same standards on both teams. Solo was clearly in violation of the " 6 second" rule on multiple occasions after this call was made on the Canadian GK. As for the hand ball, there was a an obvious one ignored by the ref on the US, about 10 mins before she called the one on the free kick. So my issue was not so much what she called, but that she didn't make those calls on both teams. It is a shame to have such a great game overshadowed by a bad ref!

  21. Caroline Lambert, August 7, 2012 at 1:47 p.m.

    Thanks, Ramon Creager, for the best analysis I've read of this controversial incident. I'm a retired referee assessor, and while watching I take note of moments that will contribute to the post game discussion with the game assessor. There was a high number of such incidents in this game. Although she did make some very good calls, I felt that overall referee was inexperienced with play at this level, and probably should not have been given such a high level game until she has more games at this level. The standards of refereeing for women have improved greatly over the years, but it's still tough for women referees to get the same level of experience that the men get, that allowed us to see an almost error-free Euro Cup this year. I just hope the Canadians get a really good referee, like Keri Seitz (the best in the world), for the bronze medal game.

  22. Mark N, August 7, 2012 at 1:57 p.m.

    Canada's complaint is all about consistency. I wasn't aware the ref warned the GK at halftime (Grover was paying more attention than I? Or in the tunnel with the players?). So it definitely seemed unjust at the time to choose the 77th minute to make the one call of the game for 6sec violation. The fact that it's the ONLY time I've ever seen that call made in years of watching various levels (plus Solo was not called for the same violation) makes it seem all the more unjust. BUT... if McLeod was warned, she surely has to take (at least some) responsibility.

  23. John Daly, August 7, 2012 at 1:58 p.m.

    Heejo, you are the one who is behaving like a "moron." Is no one but you allowed to have an opinion? Can we not discuss, agree or decide to disagree without resorting to childish name calling?

    Mike is absolutely right, whether you like it or not. Referees should call this more often or the powers that be should scrap the rule! It is as simple as that.

    The next thing that should be done is that referees should call penalty kicks on defenders who grapple with opponents before and during free kicks and corner kicks. The fact that FIFA, UEFA, etc choose not to instruct referees is shocking. The authorities leave the referee open to abuse from idiots in general, especially idiots like you!

  24. Mark N, August 7, 2012 at 2:04 p.m.

    I agree the ref was over her head. Several head-scratcher calls went both ways, so it's not a surprise that one team got an extra controversial call or two. Just like the female player pools, the female ref pool must be much shallower than the men, so we don't get the benefit of dozens of Keri Seitzes to officiate a tournament.

  25. Tim Messenger, August 7, 2012 at 2:07 p.m.

    None of us really know what warnings were issued to both Gks and when. After the Wambach PK, Solo could not be penalized with a foul until after she had received as many warnings as McLeod before the call was made. And the handball was called on the 2nd player not the first one. I would not have made the call on the first player because the strategy on the indirect kick would have been to aim at a player creating a live ball in front of the next. There were calls and non-calls galore in the game and we don't know how many warnings were given. Both teams were committing infractions and if all were called, we would have seen 4 ejections for double yellows. When the US was behind, its fans were angry at the referee for the non calls on Canada. If the outcome were reversed, the USA fans would be calling for her head. Let's give the credit to the players for a wonderful game and salute Sinclair for being the best striker in the game and Rapinoe for being the female David Beckham for her long ball accuracy.

  26. Melissa l Hayes, August 7, 2012 at 2:08 p.m.

    Ok, really?! I watched the entire game. Did u hear the US complaining when the ref missed numerous calls for fouls against them? No!
    The Canadian coach is a cry baby so apparently is his team.
    It was a great game!!! The US Women fought hard and came out on top. End of story. The US would have tied it up without the free kick from Wambach anyway. Look at their hisory and look at the second half of that game yesterday.
    The US players who were on the pitch the entire 120 minutes just had more then the Canadians who were on for 120 minutes.
    Bottom line - it was a great game! The kind of intensity you expect to see during the Olympics. The US just wanted to re-match with Japan more.
    So, Canada, get over it, aye!

  27. Leland Price, August 7, 2012 at 2:13 p.m.

    The officiating that raised a lot eyebrows was the men's Hondurus/Brazil game. The "iffy" red cards by the ref in this game threw the game to the Brazilians. In fact, the Brazilians should have lost this game. They were outplayed.

  28. Thomas Brannan, August 7, 2012 at 2:14 p.m.

    I timed it at 8.71 seconds. I stopped the stop watch when I heard the whistle during a replay. So some 2.71 seconds is enough of a violation to take away or give a possible gold medal in a game where time keeping is not exact? Even if McLeod was warned this was not the time to do it. It could be said on this one McLeod was trying to comply.

  29. Thomas Brannan, August 7, 2012 at 2:17 p.m.

    Fore shadowing: earlier in the game a long ball was played to an American on the left side. The flag went up. the American never caught up with it and it ran to the keeper. The American never got within 5 yards of the ball and the ref. blew the whistle. Think about it.

  30. Ernest Long, August 7, 2012 at 2:19 p.m.

    Oh Canada! Karma's rough, isn't it? All that talk from your coach about the USA's "highly illegal" tactics and your own player, Melissa Tancredi, intentionally stomps on the head Carli Lloyd (and got away with it when she should have received a red card and been ejected!) Go drown your tears downing a Molson!

  31. Paul Centofanti, August 7, 2012 at 2:29 p.m.

    Its always the Ref's fault when losing...stop the crying. How many of you have been Ref's and no what it is like to make a call? USA Won and now its time to move on!

  32. John Bolger, August 7, 2012 at 2:32 p.m.

    To all the referees. Is the reason Solo was not flagged for holding the ball longer than 6 seconds,in the spirit of the game, her team was behind so therefore not taking advantage of the opponent.

  33. Tricia Schade, August 7, 2012 at 3:15 p.m.

    Yea USA!!

  34. James Hoffman, August 7, 2012 at 3:24 p.m.

    It wasn't 7 seconds. Look at the clock as she gets up and is in control. They then show a replay and when they go back to the live action 14 seconds are gone from when she was standing up in control. The ball was in the air, but realize even for the best NFL punters, the ball is usually in the air for less than 5 seconds. The ball was probably no more than 3 seconds in the air. It was at least 10 seconds she held the ball. Even with that said I don't like the call. Imo she should have been given a warning on the field. The handball was a handball, if you're questioning that, you're just wrong. I say no call should have been made at that point, so no indirect kick and no ensuing handball. However, Alex was clearly taken down in the box twice. They were calls that undisputedly should have been made. In addition Abby was literally tackled on a corner kick which even though it's rarely called should have been. Take away the 1 penalty shot and give 2 for the take downs on Alex and the US wins in regulation. If you add in the tackle of Abby it's 3. Tancredi should really shut up though as she probably the dirtiest player in the women's game today. As for the rest of the game. Had the US handled Sinclair as roughly in the box as Abby gets handled, she only has 1 goal. The US had better do a better job in the future. The US was clearly the better team. Canada has a fair gripe on the one call, however, it's not fair to complain about one while ignoring the others that clearly went your way

  35. ROBERT BOND, August 7, 2012 at 3:40 p.m.

    The refs aren't perfect? WOW! As long as they are not biased, it is just part of it, & it all evens out. Would the Candians have been upset if similar calls had gone their way, depriving them of a pure victory? They went over the line claiming it was intentional predjudice, & I wish the refs would make them pay for it in future matches-but they won't...

  36. R2 Dad, August 7, 2012 at 3:49 p.m.

    The US may play a physical game, but they aren't out to injure their opponents. Tancredi stomping on Lloyd's head--straight red that wasn't called:

    So, about that conspiracy....

  37. ROBERT BOND, August 7, 2012 at 3:57 p.m.

    Better to say the ref was not wrong-exactly. Where all the whining led to in American football was to do so much reviewing it is destroyed as an in person experience! Play on, get over it, may as well gripe you weren't born ambipederous. Maybe it's because I never have a bet on. Wynalda told Neil & Charlie ther are 2 kinds of refs-bad & worse...our refs laugh when I pass that on...

  38. David Cattermole, August 7, 2012 at 4:01 p.m.

    Ramon Creager makes some accurate and responsible comments.
    Interestingly, the recertification classes this year for referees, including those still in their early teens, specifically refers to criteria used to determine what should be called as a hand-ball and those that should not, as well other more general points which are raised about application of the spirit of the laws of the game game which affects matters such as the 6 second requirement. This was introduced some years back simply to prevent goalkeepers from deliberately delaying releasing the ball in order to gain an unfair advantage such as wasting time when their team was leading.
    FIFA and EUAFA seem to court controversial decisions such as these two by Pedersen because they are so emotive and stimulate discussion about the game we all love.
    These situations are outstanding teaching tools for referees of all ages because so many have seen them and have an opinion to offer.
    Whatever the 'best' decision was, there can be no denying that this was a really good competitive game, played to a good technical standard, with totally committed players, on a world stage.

  39. tom hammond, August 7, 2012 at 4:25 p.m.

    Leland (above) hit the nail on the head. I would be willing to bet that all the officials got a 'talking-to' after ridiculous over-calling and one-sided calling of fouls gave Brazil a win over Honduras, who obviously outplayed Brazil the entire match. Hence the non-calls on Tancredi's multiple fouls. She should have earned a red card.

    And did Canada's coaches statement affect the officiating? Apparantly. Proper officiating should have had Canada with only 9 players by halftime. I'm guessing that maybe, just maybe the officials were talking amongst themselves or got a 'talking-to' during halftime and a decision was made to start calling fouls and infractions. I was overjoyed at the call for intentional delay because she was doing that every time she had the ball and Canada was ahead. Also, when you are inbetween an on-target shot at the goal and your hand contacts the ball, its a legit call.

    The US won that match because they were better than both Canada AND the officials. Unfortunately, Honduras men's team ony outplayed Brasil but couldent beat poor officiating.

  40. Bill Anderson, August 7, 2012 at 4:26 p.m.

    Go USA! Now that that is out of the way, Canada got wrecked by the official with the delay call. I won't argue the handball, it is different all the time for different refs and even the same ref from time to time. I will simply ask you this question: How many of you knowledgeable soccer watchers have seen that called in a Professional or National Team Match in the last decade? I can honestly say for me it has been once, in the game yesterday. With all of those high level refs and high level teams there wasn't one time in the last decade that a keeper cheated the clock? Thousands and thousands of games without that call.

  41. Charles O'Cain, August 7, 2012 at 4:26 p.m.

    Ramon Creager refers to the USSF opinion as to how to interpret the "six second rule". As far as I am aware, the Refs in the Olympics are not directed by the USSF, and thus not bound by (or perhaps even aware of) the USSF interpretation. Correct calls were made, and as always a few were missed (but not this one).

  42. alvin prasad, August 7, 2012 at 4:26 p.m.

    plain and simple. the referee took a bias towards the american team and it lead to the defeat of the canadians. good luck trying to prove it. there is no professional league in this world where that '6 second' call would be made and i don't care what the FIFA laws say.
    a good game, where the better team did not win. unfortunate.
    go japan go.

  43. Bill Anderson, August 7, 2012 at 4:31 p.m.

    Looking at the stats, I would posit that the USA were the better team on the night, but I would also grant that the delay call was bogus. I've called Brazil FIFA's Pets for a long time, I don't want the US Women to warrant the same avatar.

  44. Richard Broad, August 7, 2012 at 4:39 p.m.

    Law 18 is "COMMON SENSE". Erin McLeod may have taken more than 6 seconds, but when was the last time anyone has seen this called, at any level, let alone an Olympic semi-final? The referee's job is to facilitate fair play, not become the focus of play. She would have accomplished the desired purpose by simply verbally admonishing the goalkeeper. As is all too common in soccer, more so than virtually any other sport, the officials have an inordinate influence on the outcome.

  45. James Hoffman, August 7, 2012 at 4:53 p.m.

    If you gripe about the delay of game call, fine I get it. Don't the Americans have an equal gripe as to the 2 takedowns of Alex in the box? If you're going to complain about 1 call (which I acknowledge was imo bad) for the US. At least admit the Canadians got the benefit of at least 2 and probably 3 non calls in the box that would have had the US taking penalty shots anyway. 3 for Canada and 1 against.

    I'm not talking about all the missed calls outside the box throughout the game, just the ones that did or should have caused a penalty shot. Canada got the better end of the officiating in this game not the US

  46. Tom Evans, August 7, 2012 at 5:40 p.m.

    I am a proud American, former collegiate player and a long time supporter of U.S. Women’s soccer since the days of Mia Hamm. I was not proud at all after the end of yesterday’s match, on the contrary, almost embarrassed. My heart goes out to the Canadian supporters. The plethora of boos from the crowd at Old Trafford after the controversial call(s), I believe summed up what astute, non-biased football fans thought of the referee’s judgment. My feelings on the matter have been pretty well expressed already by a writer from The Globe and Mail, namely….

    “Stewards working the match at Old Trafford – and remember, these folks know their soccer – said they had never seen a referee give a free kick for a goalkeeper violating the six-second rule as happened to Erin McLeod and set the stage for a tying goal by the U.S.”…

    “Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated, one of the soccer writers of record in the U.S., wrote Tuesday that he could only find one example in the past 10 years of a keeper being penalized thusly. It was an English Premiership match.

    The BBC’s commentary team for the match was shocked at Pedersen’s decision and her subsequent decision to award a penalty kick for a handball when Marie-Eve Nault of Canada couldn’t get out of the way of a hard line drive from Megan Rapinoe. Nault crossed her hands over her chest as the ball struck her and was called for a hand-ball, a play that you can see overlooked many Saturday mornings.”

    Lastly, how many times did Hope Solo violate *the 6 second rule*? She, on the other hand, apparently never received a warning and obviously never a foul for her *infraction*.

  47. Manuel Trejo-von Angst, August 7, 2012 at 6:02 p.m.

    Ramon, I appreciate you trying to inject your interpretation of the rules in here, however, there is a 6 second rule. No matter how infrequently it is applied is of little/no consequence. It is still a law of the game. Also the warning does not have to come at the time of infraction. The assistant warned her to stop wasting time and she did multiple times after the warning. At what point is it her fault for ignoring warnings?
    Second, on the handball, you CAN NOT raise your hand in anyway to stop a ball from hitting your body. I'm not sure where you got your certification but where I'm from that is always a handball. If you have time to raise a hand any question of you being too close to the ball to avoid it is eliminated. If you raise your arm to guard your body you have handled the ball. There is no need to prove you were trying to cheat or any of the rest. Handling the ball when you could have avoided handling the ball is deliberately handling the ball. Plain and simple. The ref was over her head for sure but those calls were both good. The, at least, 3-4 penalties that should have gone the USA's way that weren't called were just as bad. We'll call it even on that one.

  48. James Hoffman, August 7, 2012 at 6:05 p.m.

    Tom, I'm completely with you on the delay call. On the hand ball I disagree, her elbow was out and she was turning away. However, no delay call, no handball. I'm still curious as to how the 2 obvious missed calls on Alex aren't viewed as just as poor when they in fact are. You can't act like the only bad call that affected the game was the 1 delay call when there were 2 for sure and probably 3 other fouls in the box that would have resulted in penalty kicks that were in favor of the Canadians. The fact is this official was just bad, but the Canadians were not the only ones seriously affected. The US lost 2 maybe 3 penalty shots due to missed calls.

  49. Barry Grauman, August 7, 2012 at 6:06 p.m.

    As a U.S.S.F. and high school referee I would say that the officials were very lenient with the goalkeeper. She was treated with kid gloves and the record shows that. She also was warned contrary to the comments of some of the people posting here.

    "(And Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl reported that McLeod admitted she was warned by an assistant referee at halftime.)"

    In my experience, when a keeper gets to six they are treading on thin ice and especially after I've warned them, when they hit ten I blow my whistle. The indirect freekick is their fault and their fault alone. This part of the discussion is a non-discussion as far as I am concerned.

    Now, if you want to talk about the handling call (there is no such thing as a handball in English rules football) we can have a legitimate debate because that was infinitely more controversial and arguable than the goalkeeping infraction in my opinion.

    Viva civil debate...
    Boo to the trash talking haters posting in this thread. Do us all a favor and grow up please.

  50. James Hoffman, August 7, 2012 at 6:26 p.m.

    We all know what is meant by handball

  51. Tim Messenger, August 7, 2012 at 6:40 p.m.

    I have officiated HS Soccer, Basketball, and Lacrosse games. I can tell you that the easiest calls are the obvious ones that don't require interpretation. For the others, you typically have some infractions that have your attention or ones that are your signature calls. In lacrosse, plying without your mouthguard draws a severe penalty and it's usually never called but I worked with an official who enforced it to the letter. He would penalize players 100 yards frrom where the ball is for taking their mouthguards out so they could talk clearly to each otther. It was to the letter but not the intent of the rule. I warned the coaches about his tendencies so they could warn their players. I would listen to calm on-field complaints from the captains about infractions, look for them, warn players, then penalize them if the violations continued. If Pedersen issued a warning for stalling/delay and it was ignored, she was right in penalizing Canada. Why is it not called on the team that is behind? Because it is not in their interest to slow the game. As for the handball, she was looking for it because indirect kicks inside the box cannot be scored unless touched by another player. The kick was perfectly executedas it was

  52. Tim Messenger, August 7, 2012 at 6:42 p.m.

    Aimed directly at a defender with the intended result. Had the Caanadians allowed the ball to get into the goal, i5 would have been disallowed.

  53. James Madison, August 7, 2012 at 7:01 p.m.

    Wow! I believe I have never seen so many comments on an SA story. My own thinking is along the lines of my friend Caroline Lambert. Either Ms. Pedersen was having an off day (as Megan Rapinoe had had as a player in the two preceding matches) or this match simply was beyond her, as there was more than enough, even without the three most significant decisions---the IFK for McLeod's delay in releasing the ball into play, the subseqent handling call and the no-call on Rapinoe's more subtle handling in the US penalty area---for a LONG discussion between the match assessor and Ms. Pedersen. Given the number of times she whistled Tancredi for a DFK foul, why did she not at least caution her for persistent infringement? Why did she not think Morgan was fouled in the second half of regular time when she was brought down on the left side of the penalty area? Why was there no whistle when Wambach, albeit not malicously, which is irrelevant to a foul-not foul decision, stomped on I don't remember who's foot in the second overtime period. Etc., etc., etc.

  54. Bill Anderson, August 7, 2012 at 7:02 p.m.

    I am a USA fan and feel that the better team won the game, but please don't imply the delay call was anything but a one in a million mistake by an overzealous official. To those arguing any other call in the entire game, you've lost the plot. Every other call can be argued and is on a weekly basis in every league around the world. Handballs, Offside, Studs Up, Red Cards, Yellow Cards etc... happen in EVERY MATCH. What you can't debate is that the delay call is NEVER called in thousands and thousands of matches. It was a mistake in judgement by the official, not a mistake in the letter of the law, but in the spirit of the game. Everyone who works or plays a game only wants consistency from the officials, when you make a call that hasn't been made EVER in the Olympics and once a decade in a Senior League Game, you have made a mistake as an official. None of the other calls were outside the bounds of normal match duty for an official, but this howler will be scrutinized for years and years, and tarnishes the reputation of OUR US TEAM.

  55. David Mont, August 7, 2012 at 7:50 p.m.

    Poor, innocent canadian players are being accused of horrible crimes!

  56. Scott Olesen, August 7, 2012 at 7:54 p.m.

    What a piece of crap article. Pathetic. If that had happened to the American Hope Solo would be crying from here to Mars. What a joke. The Americans played with 12 players yesterday. They should be good enough to win with 11 but they weren't. Incredible sad and unjust. Just pathetic and now you're trying to excuse the ref. What a joke you are Wotoilla.

  57. David Huff, August 7, 2012 at 8:04 p.m.

    Oh Canada . . . oh dear . . . now they are under FIFA investigation and may be suspended for making unsubstantiated corruption charges against the referee crew . . .

  58. Tom Evans, August 7, 2012 at 8:22 p.m.

    James H., I would have to re-watch the match to see how obvious/blatant the alleged missed calls on Alex Morgan were, where the referee was positioned, etc. Without doing that yet, my gut feeling right now is that “missed calls” are a part of the game, even at the international level and as fans and players, it is just something that we all have to put up with as being *part of the norm*…. in dealing with referees and their assistants as well as the bureaucracy, i.e. FIFA and their slow adoption of goal line technology.
    But that call on the Canadian goalkeeper was so far OUT of the expected norm of missed/bad calls that I believe it represented EXTREME, egregious refereeing given that keepers routinely use that delaying tactic nearly every weekend of the season, somewhere in the world of soccer nations and it is called far less than once in a blue moon. If the referee had been so bothered by the behavior of the Canadian goalkeeper, she should have PERSONALLY warned her with a heads-up. It would have required little effort and perhaps taken 10 sec. or so in delaying the flow of the game in order to inform the keeper how serious the situation had become (at least in the eyes of the ref).
    I’ve watched ALOT of soccer in my life from the grade school level to the professional level, both in the U.S. and throughout the world, and in view of that, I was stunned and speechless after I saw that free kick awarded. Of all the American women, I most admire Megan Rapinoe for her skill and hard work during a match but, had it been me, and perhaps the ‘old school girls’ that pioneered U.S. Women’s soccer, I/they? might have kicked that ball out of bounds, so appalling was the call. No way I would have wanted our team to potentially win the match in that sort of *unique* fashion.

  59. Tom Evans, August 7, 2012 at 8:25 p.m.

    Bill A., I agree totally.

    You hit the nail on the head.

  60. Scott Olesen, August 7, 2012 at 8:34 p.m.

    Totally agree with Bill Anderson. This hurt OUR team, the USA, because it completely calls into question their victory. They won with 12 players, not 11, and an injustice was done (which sadly, most of them did not recognize after the match. Shame on them.) This calls into scrutiny the whole tournament. Woitalla you've completely lost the plot and you are an absolute clown for writing this article. I'll never read your stuff again in the same vein. You don't deserve to have your job and I hope you're fired. Now THAT would be just.

  61. Ramon Creager, August 7, 2012 at 9:04 p.m.

    Charles O'Cain, I refer to the USSF because they are a FIFA member and they reflect FIFA's standards. It's the same standards the FA uses, The RFEF, UEFA, etc. etc. That's what makes this sport great. It's played around the world by the same standards.

  62. Ken Jamieson, August 7, 2012 at 9:07 p.m.

    Rapinoe's handling of the ball in her penalty area was more intentional than the ball striking Nault, yet which call was made which call was not made?
    USA remains the golden child of money-hungry FIFA. Additional sponsorship money that FIFA will get from the gold medal broadcast will somehow find its way to Sepp Blatter's pocket.

  63. Ramon Creager, August 7, 2012 at 9:16 p.m.

    Also, please don't lose sight that the referee's errors should not in any way reflect poorly on the US WNT. They didn't do anything wrong here. Ms. Pedersen just had a terrible, no good, very bad day. If she truly were biased towards the Americans she could easily and with justification have tossed Tancredi for her stomp on Lloyd's head and that would be that. No one would question her on that one.

  64. Kevin Lewis, August 7, 2012 at 9:18 p.m.

    Great discussion. Fact of the matter is, the Laws of the Game state that the GK is allowed six seconds to release the ball back into play. As I've seen mentioned numerous times, Olympic-level GKs should know this law -- it's been drilled into them since U-10 (or U-8, or U-6, depending on the age of the GK); anything beyond a reasonably-counted six seconds is an infraction, a deliberate attempt to slow the play of the game. A GK whose team is ahead is attempting to gain an unfair advantage by infraction of Law 12; a GK whose team is trailing and violates Law 12 is, well, (a) stupid or (b) desperate. A referee who notes persistent infraction of the six-second provision of Law 12 is well within his/her rights to penalize the GK for the infraction, and should have no reason to expect a teammate of the offending GK to handle the ball, leading to a penalty kick situation, and frankly should never consider what *could* happen when making a decision on an infraction.

    By the way, Ramon Creager (and maybe others; I didn't read *all* the posts, sorry), the FIFA interpretations of this portion of Law 12 are much more succinct than the USSF interpretations -- and this is not a USSF contest -- saying, in paraphrase, that a GK is in control of the ball while the ball is between his hands or a hand and the ground, while holding it in his open hand, or while bouncing it on the ground; nothing about allowing reasonable time to stand up, even.

  65. Ken Jamieson, August 7, 2012 at 9:22 p.m.

    In the old NPSL indoor league, the referee counted out the six seconds using an arm gesture while counting so the keeper was aware. Along with goal-line technology, perhaps FIFA should consider such a radical adaptation and actually enforce the six-second rule on a regular basis so that keepers would not be surprised when it is actually called. FIFA brought in the six-second rule in 1996 to replace the four-step rule previously in place which, when abused had a 30-second provision added to it. The key issue here isn't that the rule exists but rather that it isn't applied, except in extreme cases at this level. By the way, when was the last time obstruction was called in a senior game (the lack of this rule being called has led to the practise of sheparding the ball out of bounds).

  66. Ken Jamieson, August 7, 2012 at 9:52 p.m.

    I wouldn't mind hearing Paul Gardiner's take on the whole situation. He might be able to provide a clearer point of view than Canadians or Americans.

  67. jordao jordao, August 8, 2012 at 12:45 a.m.

    Gawd! Don't drag Paul into this!!!!

  68. Chester Grant, August 8, 2012 at 7:07 a.m.

    Lets face it, McLoed was timewasting. And while one rarely sees that call one rarely sees a tight World Cup semi-final with a shootout looming.
    McLoed had held the ball too long several times and this wsa the straw that broke the camles back - similar call one sees in "persistent fouling" when seemingly an indidual call is not a yellow card but part of a pattern.

  69. Ramon Creager, August 8, 2012 at 10:11 a.m.

    I'll leave with two final observations. First, as a fan, when I watch my team, and it's behind, and the other 'keeper takes 30 seconds to take a goal kick, or field players take forever to take a throw in, I feel every second that ticks by. This is a natural thing. I don't feel the same thing when my team is ahead or tied and doing exactly the same thing. So, when folks say "McLeod was timewasting", take it with a BIG grain of salt. The only way to look at this is through a neutral perspective; either watch the game and time both GK to see if one is wasting time (and please spare me the nonsense of "but it's different if one team is ahead"; it's not; keepers shouldn't have to work faster than their counterparts because their team is ahead. What an absurd notion!). Or watch other games you don't have a rooting interest in and learn what is the norm. (I get the feeling that rabid USA supporters don't do this, unfortunately, but they should.) Second, as a player and ref: I don't believe this is a problem, let alone one that requires visible countdowns, etc. And I disagree with the contention that the rule isn't applied. It is, all the time; it's a potential sanction all keepers know about and respect. I don't recall instances in any games I've played, refereed, or watched where I saw the keeper really holding on to the ball excessively. Usually time wasting on goal kicks, throw-ins, free kicks & late subs is much more severe. Referees in pro leagues all over the world seem to have no problem whatever with this law. So why mess with it?

  70. Kerry Ogden, August 8, 2012 at 10:18 a.m.

    Good game by the USWNT from start to finish dominating the game with much better tactical play than Canada, who are sore losers, they should consider themselves luck that the US missed many opportunities to put the ball in the net, The US was by far the better team and deserved the win, GO USA. Every game so far in this Olympic had questionable calls for both the men's and the women's games, though I think it was far worst on the men's side as far as bad calls especially if you look back at the GB vs. Senagal match which Senegal should of had at least 3 red cards and 4 yellow given against them in this match. Life will go on for Canada and they should beat France for the Bronze medal.

  71. James Hoffman, August 8, 2012 at 10:40 a.m.

    Hey Tom, appreciate the response. As we've found out since this article, Abby probably influenced the official by her counting out continually. She clearly felt pressure to make the call as Abby made it very clear to everyone around that she was stalling. I'm with you on the call, I believe the official's first step should have been to give the GK a caution herself during play. Had she then continued, fine, make the call. However, where I disagree is that the 2 trips of Alex should be looked on as just normal missed calls. They were both obvious and should have been called. When you are considering that one call shouldn't have been made which changed the outcome, how do you overlook 2 others (and I say 3 others) that would have given the US the same action, a penalty kick. In the end the US lost 2 clear penalty kicks plus another that imo should have been called and gained 1. The level of the missed call shouldn't be a question. Had the delay call not been made and Canada one, the US would have every reason to feel like they got ripped off. In the end had all the calls in the box been made correctly, the US still wins. This official was clearly in over her head. A bad day at that level isn't acceptable. After hearing that Abby was counting the seconds aloud near her and had done it 5 or 6 previous times plus the fact the keeper had been cautioned at halftime, I get why she felt she should call it. Like you said though at maybe the 2nd or 3rd time she hears Abby counting and can clearly see the GK is stalling she should have issued her a warning personally.

    The hand ball on Megan was imo clearly not a foul as her arm was at her side and not extended nor did it change the real path of the ball. On the Canadian, she turned her body and her elbow extended and it hit it. Had I been officiating I'd have made the call on that one.

    In the end I wish the calls had been made correctly and we didn't need to have this entire debate. The person who says the US should have just kicked the ball out of bounds, you're kidding right?

    One lesson I hope was learned, do not let Sinclair run free in the box on a corner or set play lol

  72. Doug Martin, August 8, 2012 at 10:59 a.m.

    What referee lets a player continualy count in her ear or near her to be heard ..... looking for a call ?

    The referee should have warned Wambach and should have cautioned her for dissent if she persisted in the gamepersonship.

    Bottom Line Pederson a part-time daycare worker from a town of 3,000 who referees two sports to make ends meet, ( in a family of referees ) got on the Fifa list ( please note the Norwegian head referee for the Football Association is a Pederson...too, not sure if he is an uncle or not. )

  73. Ashe Xii, August 8, 2012 at 12:27 p.m.


    The referee:
    - Must enforce the Laws of the Game
    - May change a decision on realising it was wrong

    A penalty kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player handles the ball DELIBERATELY in the box.
    Not only did Christiana Pedersen call an undeliberate handball in the box against Canada, she DID NOT call a DELIBERATE handball in the box against US Rapinoe.


    A throw-in is awarded to opponents of the player who last touched the ball when the whole of the ball crosses the touchline, either on the ground or in the air. An obvious one to anyone, the US were awarded a corner kick after the US kicked the ball out of play.

    There were many instances in this game where Christian Pedersen violated the rules as a referree and ruined the reputation of the sport, unjustly giving the Gold Medal game to the US team. Her actions should be questioned and accounted for. Sorry, THE REF WAS NOT RIGHT, NOT ACCORDING TO THE RULES.

  74. mike renshaw, August 8, 2012 at 12:33 p.m.

    Never a penalty. no intent to handle, no movement of the hand towards the ball which appeared to clip off another Canadian prior to striking the girls elbow. The Canadians were indeed robbed.

  75. Charles O'Cain, August 8, 2012 at 12:34 p.m.

    Entirely too much criticism of the referee here, and completely unfounded allegations as to her "bias" among other ridiculous conspiracy theories (is that being redundant?). The "blame" here falls to the Canadian keeper, who repeatedly held on to the ball too long despite warning(s). Not smart play ... time-waste on dead balls and take your yellow card like other keepers do. All keepers know the rule, and count to themselves. Why risk what happened here? You don't see the call made, because keepers don't want to defend indirect free kicks in the box. They punt or throw it away, or if not pressed drop it and dribble it around a bit. No sympathy to the Canadians except for this bad decision by their keeper.

  76. Amos Annan, August 8, 2012 at 12:38 p.m.

    The Norwegian referee made the right call and warned the Canadians twice. Canada was a little unlucky but was still out shot by Americans 2 to 1.

    While the 6 second rule is rarely called, they were warned.

  77. David Huff, August 8, 2012 at 12:51 p.m.

    The US was robbed when there was no call for Tancredi's deliberate 'head stomp' on Lloyd's head while she was down on the ground in the Canadian PA box. A red card and subsequent PK should have been awarded, the Canadians are such hypocrite's in complaining against alleged US "illegal tactics" and "Canada being robbed". Here's the video of the deliberate head stomp by Tancredi . . .

  78. James Hoffman, August 8, 2012 at 1:03 p.m.

    Ashe, here's a decent short article on deliberate which doesn't refer to intent. Megan's by any interpretation of the rule wasn't a foul. The Canadian's could have gone either way. I would have never called the delay without a warning from me during play (not at half time) but I would have called the hand ball as she was turning and her elbow extended away from her body, however, I can see it either way. Since you feel so strongly on this one poor (as you see it) call, I'm wondering how you feel about the non calls that should have given the US penalty kicks? Are those off limits and not to be discussed, did the decisions not to call them not affect the outcome of the game? Games are rarely decided by 1 call made by an official and this one wasn't either.

  79. alvin prasad, August 8, 2012 at 1:19 p.m.

    everyone can sit and disect all of the referee's calls. it doesn't matter. there was a much larger agenda. it's called the big bucks. these games are no longer about sport. it's all about the money involved in t.v. ratings and sponsorships. that's a shame.
    these games are full of incidents that reveal some sort of controversy.
    i wish the Canada Womens team had the capability of the 'Raisman-INQUIRY'. why does that sport allow for such a thing? shouldn't the judges have the final say? total BS

  80. Tom Evans, August 8, 2012 at 2:12 p.m.

    ^ That would certainly appear so given the fact that after the now infamous indirect free kick was awarded (googling tells me last time such a thing happened at the senior level was in 2002! in the Prem), the U.S. announcer/commentator team barely mentioned the significance and *uniqueness* of the call at the time of the event.
    I was so disgusted that I turned off the match at the end of regulation time and just recorded the remainder to watch it when I was in a better mood. Today I see in the media that the referee’s father is claiming that his daughter personally warned the Canadian GK twice about delaying the match….whereas a couple days ago, the Canadian GK claims she was only warned by the assistant ref in passing at half time. Someone is obviously lying now.

  81. Ashe Xii, August 8, 2012 at 2:21 p.m.

    As a soccer player myself I would say it would suck to enter a Final Game knowing our victorious semi was more heavily influenced by an incapable ref than by my team's own abilities. I wouldn't be proud of it. The ref really should have left that honor to the teams to battle out themselves and call the game consistently and fairly. There were calls missed against Canada, as well as calls missed against the US, and perhaps this is the only consistency the ref had. But a handball in the box that is called against one team and not against the other is clearly not fairly made especially when the award is as large of a game changer as a penalty kick. If she chooses to ignore one, she should ignore the other, and vice versa. I don't think there were any other handballs in the box in the game for comparison.

  82. Jim Chandler, August 8, 2012 at 2:25 p.m.

    Firstly, this position paper published by USSF about the handling offense mentions that
    "The referee must take into consideration whether the defender’s
    reaction is purely instinctive, taken to protect sensitive areas of the body as the face."
    Was this the case here? Perhaps, perhaps not. Referee's judgment. Still the people that believe that this call was a simple one are not considering this official interpretation.

  83. Jim Chandler, August 8, 2012 at 2:45 p.m.

    Above it was posted,
    "By the way, when was the last time obstruction was called in a senior game (the lack of this rule being called has led to the practice of shepherding the ball out of bounds)."
    Firstly, the offense is not "obstruction", but "impeding the progress of your opponent. A player within playing distance of the ball has every right to shield an opponent from it even if they don't actually touch it.

  84. Peter Goldberger, August 8, 2012 at 2:57 p.m.

    Firstly, please stop quoting USSF interpretations of the Laws. They have no bearing or authority during FIFA competitions.

    Secondly, Solo often retained possession of the ball past the 6 seconds, but by dropping the ball to her feet, not holding it in her hands. Solo's exceeding the 6 second law happened, but was rare. McLeod did it constantly which is why she was warned and then penalized.

    In watching the clips of the handling infraction in slow motion, it appears, at least to me, that Nault used her arm to push the ball to the ground after contact which defines intentionally handling the ball.

  85. alvin prasad, August 8, 2012 at 3:24 p.m.

    ^ i watched the whole game in 'slow motion'. not once did i see the referee go up to the canadian goalkeeper and administor a verbal warning. this is a standard procedure, if the referee was competent.
    as far as the hand ball. i'm sure Nault is very athletic, but to ask her to deliberately handle a ball after taking a deflection (with her headturned the other way), when the ball is struck from 10 yards out, is a BIT ridiculous. Maybe in slowMO but no way in hell can you do that in real time.

  86. Jim Chandler, August 8, 2012 at 4:09 p.m.

    When USSF, or any other soccer federation issues a directive, or position paper, it is reviewed by FIFA. If FIFA decides that it's in error, they would direct the federation to rescind it because it is their aim that the game be played, and officiated uniformly throughout the world.
    It's like a circuit court's decision being upheld by a higher court.
    So USSF directives, and positions are in fact applicable

  87. Robert Kiernan, August 8, 2012 at 7:22 p.m.

    I've just read all of these comments,including those that clearly are partisan and I've got to say the single most egregious call was the one NOT made when Tancredi clearly decided to stamp on Lloyd's head,that was an INTENTIONAL ACT and as such should have warranted a straight RED CARD! Much is made of a player's intent,in this case you clearly had a player intending to injure another player,when THIS CALL was not made,that had a direct effect on how ALL the players played the rest of the match.The Referee had lost the high ground. There were take downs and hand balls in both boxes but when you know a player is out to injure,that card is called for, end of story. Clearly this Official lost respect from the players and a prime example of that is Wambach entering into the Officials business Counting off seconds, that is something that NO REFEREE at this level should EVER put up with,it is unsporting behavior and deserves a verbal warning and if it persists a Yellow card.The fact that this didn't happen tells me a fair bit about Pederson. This was Gamesmanship and the USA was allowed to get away with it.As to calling a six second violation,While maybe "Technically Correct" it clearly was also a RIDICULOUS decision. There are the Rules and there is the WAY the Game is actually played,in this instance to make THAT call and not to have sent off Tancedi is proof that this Referee simply was not ready. It is virtually NEVER CALLED in this manner at this level, it is a technical call much like say a foot fault on a throw in, something that does occasionally actually get called but virtually NEVER results in such a direct advantage to one team. As far as giving a PK for handling the ball,well that is a judgment call but again when the ball is being driven into the box from close up, most officials tend to give the defender the benefit of a doubt as to whether or not the player could have avoided that shot.You can argue it either way and it's ALWAYS a judgment call. This was a very competitive match and the Canadian Coach made statements prior to the match that were ill considered if not just plain stupid,again this was gamesmanship. This sort of thing does happen even with some very experienced Referees, Howard Webb doing the World Cup Final two years ago somehow managed to only give De Jong a Yellow Card for planting his boot in Xavi Alonso's chest WHILE STANDING UPRIGHT!! These decisions have the effect of making the match less a contest between the two sides, than of the official making or not making key decisions,if De Jong had been properly sent off, likely that final would have opened up and the Dutch would have been forced to go out and actually play.Same here,if Tancredi was no longer playing then the USA, a man up, would likely have won in regulation, but this clearly is a case of an official contributing to the way this match was played, in the end it was probably the correct result but it was more by luck than by correct play ...(ICE)

  88. Otto Respighia, August 8, 2012 at 7:42 p.m.

    Mike - here's what British sportswriter (The Guardian) Scott Murray, who declared Monday's clash "the greatest knockout match in major-tournament football since 1982," had to say about Pedersen's call:

    "With Canada leading 3-2, and Pedersen repeatedly honking her horn, the referee paused her comedic parping to penalise Canadian keeper Erin McLeod for holding on to the ball for 6.00000000000000001 seconds. Given that nobody in any form of professional football has been pulled up for this since the days crossbars were made out of tape, balls were made out of solid varnished teak, and women players were kept locked in the FA's basement while the menfolk grappled with each other and their own inadequacies, this was a peculiarly harsh decision."

    Point is, a lot more countries than just Canada pointing out the lunacy of the calls.

  89. David Huff, August 8, 2012 at 8:17 p.m.

    To all the Canadian complainers/apologists, tell you what, we'll take back the 6-second and subsequent handball call so long as you concede the red card and subsequent PK calls that should have been made for Tancredi's face/head stomp on the downed Carli Lloyd. Do I hear any excuses or justifications for the non-calls on Tancredi's behavior?

  90. Tom Evans, August 8, 2012 at 9:12 p.m.

    David – there is no memo in soccer that says we act like the Soccer God and divvy up the score for missed and bad calls and after we’ve done run the numbers, we see if the infractions (or lack thereof) balanced out or not and the *correct* team won. That sort of thing may work to ease one’s conscience or justify the way things turned out in the end…depending on your counting and your 'support'. The point is…..missed calls HAPPEN OFTEN in soccer. It is not uncommon. It is an understood part of the game that we all accept every other weekend or so. Hand balls are COMMONLY controversial, etc. Refs often miss head stomps and elbows to the face, we live with that….as well as the Academy Award acting performances which embellish trite confrontations but which players routinely embellish their injury in order to draw a foul or card on the opposing player (as an aside, if you want to really see REAL injury, watch some daily crashes in the Tour de France---no embellishment necessary, and often riders get up and finish the stage with broken bones) On the other hand, the call that the referee made in regards to the Canadian GK was so far out of the realm of normal elite level officiating (mistakes and all) that it will most likely be remembered infamously for years and years to come and if the U.S. beats Japan (which I assume they’re favored to by the bookmakers), I fear the gold medal and THE TEAM will be tainted in the eyes of many non-biased foreign observers just like the British sportswriter whom Otto quoted above.

  91. Ronnie j Salvador, August 9, 2012 at 12:45 a.m.

    Bill Anderson is spot on, as is Otto R's reference:

    A player who repeatedly chants the seconds to time the GK's release of the ball deserves a yellow.
    The ref could have just given Mcleod a yellow on an earlier goal kick to press her point, without the huge repercussion of such a call [which is now the most discussed call in decades, in either mens or womens soccer].

  92. William Miller, August 9, 2012 at 8:47 a.m.

    The article is dead on correct, only I am not "sorry" for Canada, nor will any medal won by the US be tainted by this past match
    It's not inappropriate for Canadian fans, and those US apologists on here to lament the calls, and the loss.
    That's sports.
    What is sad to witness is the overall classless behavior of the Canadian coach, and the classless "boo-hoo we were jobbed," player crying going on.
    A just outcome for Canada is a loss to the French, and an empty handed trip home, whence the world will no doubt be treated to eternal classless whining from this pathetic group.

  93. William Heiden, August 9, 2012 at 11:56 a.m.

    William Miller ----10/4---- you are 100% correct. Canada Coach AND players---get a grip.................

  94. alvin prasad, August 9, 2012 at 12:06 p.m.

    william miller --- unfortunately there's thing called KARMA and i think it had a hand in allowing the canadian team to grab a medal. hopefully KARMA is not done yet and it awards the US team it's silver. good luck.

  95. David Huff, August 9, 2012 at 1:51 p.m.

    @Tom Evans, sorry but i don't agree with your selective reasoning and conclusionary fears. As for today's bronze medal match outcome, the inferior team clearly won and illustrates the unfairness of the Soccer Gods at work where a team that dominated possession, exhibited superior technical skills, had 25 SOG to the inferior team's 4 SOG was done in by one critical breakdown at the very end of play and thereby allowing the inferior team to claim the bronze medal. I guess that's why we can love/hate the game at times with passion.

  96. James Hoffman, August 9, 2012 at 3:16 p.m.

    So we can't go back and look at the bad or missed calls that benefited Canada, but it's ok to go back and revisit the one that benefited the US? OK. One is a crappy call that rarely happens and the others are crappy calls that happen more frequently, so the rarer the bad call, the more we can gripe?

  97. alvin prasad, August 9, 2012 at 3:18 p.m.

    anyone of you, who have defined the handball rule - could you please tell me how the u.s. got away with another one in the japan game? this tournament is a complete sham. 100% a handball in the box off of the free kick. not given.

  98. Ken Smith, August 9, 2012 at 4:38 p.m.

    So with US in lead where is the six second call on Solo? She has violated it a number of times. Is Wambach counting for the ref this time? and handballs dontcount against the US i see.

  99. Ken Smith, August 9, 2012 at 4:40 p.m.

    and what is the rule on time delay for a free kick? A shameful lack of fair play by US women soccer.

  100. David Huff, August 9, 2012 at 7:35 p.m.

    @Alvin it's called the "USA Playing in the Revenge Final Against Japan" exception that cleared Tobin Heath of wrongdoing? :-)

    Same exception was played later on when the always-slow and ponderous Rachel Buehler had her arms wrapped around the attacking Japanese player in the US PA box when they crashed together into Hope Solo.

    Thank god Buehler was subbed out late in the game. This change came none too soon, because her more worthy replacement Becky Sauerbrunn IMHO saved the US from the late Japan attack breakaway which ocurred after Rampone was stripped of the ball. Sauerbrunn's mobility and speed were critical closing down the space so that the Japanese player was forced to make the shot that Hope Solo then saved at the end. IMHO no way Buehler makes it there in time to help on the defensive play. I am hoping that this is the last time I have to see either Buehler or Boxx playing for the USWNT, we simply can't afford their lack of speed or touch that leads to clumsy fouling and give-aways of possession.

  101. Tom Evans, August 9, 2012 at 8:14 p.m.

    @David Huff - Clearly, the *inferior* team in terms of possession and shots on goal/corner kicks, etc. sometimes wins the match. Again, that is part of soccer….or even American football. It’s something you come to accept as a player or fan. It’s all part of the game. It is not that uncommon or historic. Did you watch the Champions League this year? See who won? Over the years I’ve probably seen hundreds of matches at every level where the *inferior* team scored (and subsequently won) against the run of play.

  102. Tom Evans, August 9, 2012 at 8:23 p.m.

    @James Hoffman - “Rare” would be an understatement to the infamous free kick awarded by the Norwegian referee of note. OUTGRAGEOUS would be a more applicable term as the *6 second rule* is ROUTINELY abused as much or more as was by the Canadian GK during the U.S./Canada match and it is HISTORICALLY hardly ever called, given the thousands or millions of matches played in the interim since this was last discussed! Think of it this way, under California law, a police officer is allowed to give you a ticket for going one over the speed limit. Next time you or anyone else is driving on the 57 past Diamond Bar (where Alex Morgan is from) and a CHP officer pulls you over and issues you a speeding citation for going 2 m.p.h. over the posted speed limit, do you imagine that you or anyone else will “gripe” more about it than the TYPICAL speeding ticket for which you or one of your friends/family may have received in the past? The awarding of this indirect free kick at the elite level was probably about as “rare” as surgeons (in the U.S.) operating on the wrong leg, or arm instead of the proper one due for surgery. Yes, if anyone here has the wrong leg/arm/eye, etc. operated on or a surgeon leaves a sponge in your body after surgery, I think you have the right to “gripe” more about it than if you had some other post surgical *complication*leading to a suboptimal outcome. The awarding of the indirect free kick with the subsequent judgmental awarding of a PK for a *hand ball* was not “rare”….it was tantamount to GROSS NEGLIGENCE. Of course, if you were one of the announcers on NBC Sports, you would describe it as a “favorable decision” for the U.S.

  103. Tom Evans, August 9, 2012 at 8:27 p.m.

    @alvin Prasad – We’ll get you singing The Star-Spangled Banner yet…..and with a smile on your face. j/k.

  104. James Hoffman, August 10, 2012 at 2:29 p.m.

    I agree that the delay call was terrible, outrageous, etc... you pick the term. I also say you can't just pick and choose the terrible calls that make a game fair or not.

    You know what else is funny, I haven't seen a Canadian yet that wants to give back the bronze due to the obvious offsides on the initial shot and the rebound shot. Probably not a rare or outrageous enough missed call to count.

  105. David Field, August 11, 2012 at 4:24 p.m.

    With respect to the awarding of the penalty kick for the ‘handball’ I would draw the attention of everyone to the following publication:

    Particularly pages 125 and 111 dealing with the subject of kicking the ball directly at an opponent when taking a free kick.
    As some posters’ have observed the Canadian defender attempted to defend herself. That alone, according to the above publication, would be sufficient to qualify as ‘careless’. I believe it was ‘reckless’ and probably even ‘using excessive force’. Any of those fouls are punished with a free kick. That being the case the actual contact of the ball with the ‘hand’ is irrelevant because as soon as the offence is committed, even if the whistle is a little late, the ball is ‘out of play’.

  106. Bryan Beckstead, October 4, 2012 at 6:45 p.m.

    FIFA to hold hearing over Christine Sinclair’s comments about Olympic referee after loss to the U.S.

    Ms Sinclair demonstrated the worst kind of poor sportsmanship when she accused the referee of fixing the football match, Canada versus the USA , London 2012 Olympics . Complaining about the referring and accusing the referee of cheating and fixing the match are two entirely different issues.

    As a proud Canadian I was shocked and dismayed at Ms Sinclair’s accusations, accusations that were initially spoken directly after a loss to the USA team, after a hard fought and emotional game. I, as many other Canadians have done, have waited patiently for cooler heads to prevail. Unfortunately, Ms. Sinclair, even though given, by the press, many opportunities to, retract, change or alter her accusations, has chosen not too so. Ms Sinclair put a permanent stain on her sport, the Olympics, International Football, everyone associated with that match, as well as Canada as a nation, all because she was frustrated and bitter about losing a football match.

    Where is her proof?

    Up to this point, Ms Sinclair’s accusations are totally unsubstantiated accusations and without any merit what so ever. If she can not provide concrete third part collaborating evidence that the match between Canada and the USA at the London Olympics was fixed and " decided before the game started" , she should, even at this late date, do what is honorable and decent, reflective of how the majority of Canadians would do, offer up an apology to the referee of that match, her opponents, FIFA, the Olympic movement, for her abhorrent comments following that match.

    This is not about whether that football match was poorly officiated or not, this is about the captain of the Canadian Women's Soccer Team, Christine Sinclair accusing the referee of that match of cheating and fixing that game, up to this point , a total unsubstantiated accusation and without any merit.

    Its time Christine Sinclair stepped up and did the honorable thing, make this right and return some honor and dignity back to herself and this sorry situation.

    Its time, decency and honor were restored

  107. Matthew Brannon, June 18, 2015 at 9:22 a.m.

    ...and she never reffed another international match.

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