LONDON – Canada’s beaten soccer players accused Norwegian referee Christiana Pedersen of bias towards the United States after their dramatic 4-3 extra-time defeat in their Olympic women’s soccer semi-final on Monday.
In a rare move, Pedersen penalized Canada goalkeeper Erin McLeod for holding the ball for too long after making a save in the 80th minute, awarding the U.S. an indirect free kick in the penalty area.
The law says the goalkeeper should release the ball after six seconds, but it is hardly ever applied in either men’s or women’s soccer.
While that decision appeared to Canada’s team to be harsh, Pedersen then awarded the U.S. a penalty resulting from Megan Rapinoe’s free kick. The ball struck the elbow of Canadian Marie-Eve Nault with the player turning away.
The referee was not available for comment.
A spokesman for world soccer’s governing body FIFA said: “As is our practice, FIFA will make no comment on this issue and in any case, the referee’s decision is always final.”
Canada’s coach John Herdman initially shied away from the controversy but then added: “She’s got to live with that. We will move on from this. I wonder if she will be able to.”
McLeod told reporters: “The referee stated I had the ball for 10 seconds. She obviously counted the time I was on the ground with the ball. Once I got to my feet I compute I only had the ball for five seconds. Continued…
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