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Let’s be crystal clear about Monday’s U.S.-Canada decision: It was wrong. Period.

Aug 7, 2012, 11:07 AM EDT

London Olympics Soccer Women

A few media colleagues have donned their oven mitts this morning, now baking up a fresh round of lesser informed excuse-making about the Norwegian referee’s decision yesterday during the Miracle in Manchester.

The theory goes, the referee’s assistant at the Canadian end “warned” goalkeeper Erin McLeod not to slow down the action.  So, this thin line of thought goes, the decision to punish McLeod was wholly justified.

A lot of this is coming from our friends who may not watch soccer as much – and some of them are making apples-to-orange comparisons.

(For the record, I hate that all this detracts from a rousing, brave U.S. win. It really was quite something … which is why we are writing all this other stuff about it.)

If you are relatively unfamiliar to soccer, I promise I’m not judging. My role here is simply to inform, to keep the conversation within the chalk lines of relevancy. Because some of what I’m hearing simply isn’t. Relevant, that is.

To wit: About this warning of “not slowing down the play,” I say “So what?”

It is absolutely immaterial in the context of such a meaningful decision from the woman in the middle, at such a critical time in the contest.  Referee assistants and referees are always providing information and communicating in formal and less formal ways.  So, there’s that.

But the more important issue here is the context and timing of this massive free kick award. (A decision that, as I’ve already tried to make clear, is never issued.)

So, let me be crystal clear about this:

Only the most egregious, blatant violation of the perennially-ignored six-second rule, one that demonstrated a nakedly overt effort to defy and show up match officials, deserved such harsh treatment.

McLeod’s actions didn’t even approach such a standard.

Warning? Only if referee Christiana Pedersen had pulled McLeod aside and said the following words would a “warning” be considered as such in this case: “Look, you are clearly stalling. You will leave me no choice but to award a free kick if you hold onto the ball for more than six – SIX, you hear? – seconds. Am I being clear?”

Even in that case, I might argue that McLeod got to her feet and released the ball in acceptable time.


By the way, most goalkeepers would hear such a “warning” as McLeod apparently received and reasonably conclude she was being instructed not to dally on goal kicks. (Which McLeod didn’t appear to be doing.)

Want a fair comparison? This would be like a bunch of people heading out of town in a panic over Hurricane warnings. On the way out, police warn drivers almost in passing to “watch your speed.” And then someone gets tagged for going 71 in a 70 – and then gets their vehicle towed because of unpaid parking tickets from back in college.

By letter of the law, yeah, that’s justifiably enforcement. But I think we’d all agree it was pretty silly and utterly unnecessary.

103 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. jayz5050 - Aug 8, 2012 at 2:01 AM

    Like to make a few points,no sense arguing about missed fouls, missed stomps, etc. It happens all the time in soccer, nature of the game when one referee needs to make a call in a heartbeat. Physical game? This is why it was so amazing, both teams gave no quarters, and played with a raw emotion not seen in a long time. And credit both teams for not trying to take the easy route by flopping or pretend they were shot to gain a free kick or penalty like we see so much in soccer. Both teams left everything on the pitch.
    The PK, justified or not? Again, you can argue it either way, and again, we see that all the time.

    What is baffling and to me an outright bad call of epic proportions was the six seconds. I won’t argue about yes warning, no warning or letter of the rule. It comes down to precedence. Some stats person in England traced back the last time this call was made in a professional match, it was Bolton vs Newcastle in 2002! Ten years and tens of thousands of professional matches ago. Why has this rule not called more often? It’s simple, in a ball flying into the box from a set play or corner, you usually have upwards of 8 defenders defending. The goalie once he/she secures the ball, usually wait for his/her team to get back into position. That normally takes more than 6 seconds to untangle and sort everything out. If the rule was to be followed by the letter, we would see lots of these calls made each game. The normal course of action when a goalie is perceived to be stalling (and yes McLeod was stalling but fairness who doesn’t when you’re winning?) is to give a verbal warning or if need be a yellow card. Why this referee decided to give a free kick in the box, in such a crucial match, at such a crucial time, something not done since before the ipod, and when 56k modems were still the norm is why I feel it’s a horrendous call and it did change the course of the game. The referee decided in her own mind, she wanted to set a precedence, and not leave it in the hands of the players in an epic match that could have gone either way. One last point, this call has caused world wide attention in a soccer game between two nations in which soccer is not their main occupation. Wow imagine if this call was made in a similar circumstance in a world cup semi-final match between say Brazil vs Germany or Spain vs Italy?

    • Gregor - Aug 8, 2012 at 2:12 AM

      Well said.

      • manspirit1 - Aug 8, 2012 at 6:43 AM

        yeah agreed, nicely put

      • nolliabed - Aug 8, 2012 at 8:27 AM

        My son has been playing soccer for 15 years now and will play soccer in college. The reason I can’t stand to watch soccer (and I am a huge sports fan) is that the officiating is so inconsistent you just want to puke. Every other sport I watch (although bad calls are made) has consistency as for as officiating goes……………not soccer. It just reeks of third world country mentality. We will do what we want when we want whenever we feel like it. GREAT!

    • basedrum777 - Aug 8, 2012 at 9:08 AM

      Not to provide so much as a counterpoint but I will say this: if you don’t like how a rule is written or how it is applied then get the rule changed. To bitch after the fact that you disagree that the rule was actually applied looks petty and childish. The Canadian goaltender during the game was holding the ball for almost 12 seconds per handle. That’s double the acceptable time (according to the rules) and clearly a violation. Even when she was called for a foul she was holding it for more than 10 seconds BEFORE THE FOUL WAS CALLED. This means she didn’t even release it by that point.
      And to be clear this didn’t result in a penalty kick. Her defender’s inability to block a ball without using her hands in the box lead to the penalty kick. WHICH she still had the opportunity to stop before it went in. It is 2 or even 3 (depending on your views) events from the foul call to the goal (not to say they are not invariably linked obviously). She had plenty of chances to right her mistake and couldn’t. That’s on her. Don’t blame the refs for applying the correct rules. Blame the rulesmakers for having a rule with which you don’t agree.

      • manspirit1 - Aug 8, 2012 at 10:00 AM

        you are dead wrong on this point….read my post near the bottom of the previous page in reference to a statement by a referee who has long experience in officiating soccer…one of the key points he makes with regard to the enforcement of rules (particularly one that hasn’t been enforced for any team at this level since 2002) is that referees apply common sense discretion in their decision making. Christina Pederson exercised no such discretion on the first call and bad judgement on the second call. End of story.

    • lyleoross - Aug 8, 2012 at 2:36 PM

      Steve Davis needs to learn a bit more about football. No, not soccer, football. A key element of the sport, one that the whole world understands, but that the U.S. is notably poor at, is game strategy. I’m not talking about play on the field, but how players deal with refs and the other team on a mental level. Begin with the statement made by the Canadian coach pre-game. Brilliant, he claimed the U.S. was an overly physical team and thus set a tone directing attention away from how his team was going to handle the game, with hugely physical play. The Canadian coach wasn’t incorrect in his assessment of U.S. play, he was however playing the ref to his team’s advantage. This resulted in a situation where numerous fouls that could have resulted in cards, didn’t.

      Abby Wambach did something similar during the game. Every time the Canadian goalie picked up the ball, she stood next to the ref and began counting. The number of times she counted over six was more than two. What Wambach did was built an image in the ref’s mind over several minute that the Canadians were stalling, and willfully so. That strategy paid off for the U.S. Is this critical? Is it horrible? Did it ruin the sport? Did it even damage the sport? Any answer but no denotes a lack of understanding of how players and coaches try and establish a relationship with the ref to gain an advantage. Abby was brilliant, as was the Canadian coach. The difference is that Abby played within the rules, whereas many of the fouls that Canada got away with were outside the rules.

      Now, I’d be negligent if I didn’t point out that the U.S. fouls also, that they got away with their fair share, but I’d be stupid if I didn’t recognize that many players in many countries have manipulated the refs in many ways that were way more out of bounds than what Abby did. Good football, great game, fair outcome.

  2. chrishutchinson - Aug 8, 2012 at 8:08 AM

    Also, take a look at the first five seconds of the game…. Tancredi gives us a needless and blatent foul right out of the box…. obviously their game plan and it backfired on them, perhaps. Despite the poor call and Sinclair’s marvelous play, the better team clearly won (oh, and Sinclair did allow in the first US goal by moving off the post). Do well against France, but play the ball, not the women.

    • manspirit1 - Aug 8, 2012 at 9:48 AM

      The better team is the one that scores the most goals on any given day….period. We will never know who the better team on that day was. All we will know is that until that “poor” call, Canada was leading largely due to Sinclair and Tancredi’s efforts. We also know that after the PK, the U.S.. scored no further goals in regulation play despite their efforts. During the game, Canada’s defence was definately in need of improvement….a work in progress I guess, but they fought hard and with great heart, and they deserved a better outcome even if that meant that the U.S. would ultimately win. Word has it that the this was the referees 5 th game at this level, 3 of which she refereed from the sidelines and all of which took place in the last month. Wambach used gamesmanship by playing on this lack of experience at this level, and started counting time out loud looking for a call and an outcome that has never occurred since 2002. To me that is as bad as players faking injuries to get a call. Unfortunately, it worked. FIFA and the I.O.C. should never ever have put such an inexperienced referee (at that level) to officiate this game…she ruined what was one of the most exciting games in Women’s soccer I have ever seen and tainted the medal outcome in the process. Players in all Olympic events deserve better, and anyone who know right from wrong, despite their national allegience knows thats. This is sport, and players work long and hard in trying to achieve greatness and should be rewarded accordingly….otherwise whats the point…..intrinsic reward? Sure thats definately part of it….but its not all of it.

  3. tackledummy1505 - Aug 8, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    I’m guessing this is a Canadian lol. Look I doubt McLeod didn’t understand what Amy Wamback was doing either right? Just like Tancredi’s stomping of the U.S. centerback’s head is like that whole scenario you gave at the end. How about the Canadians coming out talking about highly illegal grabbing and holding. Yet the entire game I saw Canadians doing just that. McLeod should’ve known something was up with the counting and watching herself better. Problem is she probably got tunnel vision and got caught in a tactic by the U.S. You’re telling me that only Canada can do this and not the Americans? Technically the U.S. played to the rules and got away with enforcing one as well. So stop the crying and whining and take the loss like a man

    • manspirit1 - Aug 8, 2012 at 11:46 AM

      Unbelievable…..a win at any cost right….you can try to rationalize this all you want….with your blinders on…”oh look what the Canadians did here and here, that they never got called for”, with absolutely no references to any such actions by the American players. But thats really besides the point, isnt it….you try and justify a tainted win with such feable arguments, and accuse Canadians who have a legitimate beef with a game changing set of decisions which directly resulted in a goal against a group of players who played their hearts out as did the American players. Again, I reiterate, this kind of thing has not been called since 2002, nor should it have now….for very good reasons as Ive already indicated. Also this is a huge difference between missed calls, and bad calls as anyone who watchs soccer on a regular basis can testify to. So again, I suggest you quit trying to rationalize your greed for gold, like a snot nosed spoiled brat you make yourself out to be….and admit the referee was incompetant and inexperienced on a professional level, and made a call that tarnished what was otherwise an extremely exciting and hard fought game…America didnt deserve to win that way and Canada didnt deserve to lose that way… get a clue and do yourself a favour, quit allowing your highly biased viewpoint to be corrupted by your greed for gold…..gee how come Im reminded of the financial crisis your country triggered by people with exactly the same attitude and exactly the same inability to know right from wrong.

  4. user15678 - Aug 8, 2012 at 12:04 PM


    Nice try at trying to incite controversy to a game that was both physical and saw its portion of unfair play. Its clear that you never played the game because first, had you actually played soccer you would know from personal experience that not all calls go your way. Second, when a keeper consistently holds the ball past 6 seconds(in their hands rather play it on the pitch), and in this case for over 10 seconds, that keeper will receive the hold call. Further, the keeper had the choice of playing the ball on the pitch rather then hold it and keep the US at bay, had she done this the ref would not have had to make the call.

    And finally, case in point watch this video:

    Tancredi clearly stepped (and she meant to, those of us who have played the game know how to do this) on Loyld’s head in the second half and was lucky to not have been ejected. Yes, not all calls go your way but some do!!

    So next time, stopped whining about one call when that call didn’t give the game away. It was the hand ball in the box and the Canadian player’s unwillingness to not take it the chin like the rest of us have had to do at least a time or two.

    Next time do some real reporting… oh wait, you write a blog!!!!!

    • mgdsquiggy17 - Aug 9, 2012 at 1:55 PM

      “Next time do some real reporting… oh wait, you write a blog!!!!!”

      and you are commenting on a blog.. so if you are attacking his credibility you really have none… nice Gratuitous use of exclamation points

  5. manspirit1 - Aug 8, 2012 at 12:18 PM

    I definately concur that the head stomp was intentional and reprehensible. However, using this as an argument justifying the win from the bad call is like comparing apples and oranges. First, in any soccer match, as with any multiplayer sport, things will be missed by the referee. Sometimes those things are pretty egregious, such as the famous head butt, by the french player on the italian player in the final of the world cup a number of years ago….fortunately the ref eventually called it. In this case, the referee likely didnt see it, because it was an obvious and deliberate foul even if she was looking toward the ball when she did it. But the point is, this is a missed call, which happens all the time, and is distinct from a call that should never have been made in the first place, not to mention the ridiculous follow up call, where the Canadian players had no time whatsoever to get out of the way of the ball. So quit trying to use it as rationalizing an obviously tainted win based on a penalty kick that should never have happened. I find it unbelievable, the eyes with which some Americans seem to see with…they are by no means unbiased Just so you know were the situation reversed, I would have sided with the Americans, as would the majority of international spectators who know the game. They know right from wrong and are not corrupted in their viewpoints by greed for a gold.

    • jelliot1978 - Aug 8, 2012 at 2:00 PM

      Can you answer this question. If McLeod was warned once or on multiple occasions by the ref or another official is the call then justified? She would then have followed standard protocols for this specific infraction. Yes the call is rarely ever made but what if in other matches a keeper is warned and they don’t do it again so the ref never has to make that call?

      You say the win is tainted because of an accurate call on an infraction. How so? Because it is hardly ever called? That isn’t tainted, it is the ref adhering to the rule book.

      Now to the penalty kick awarded. This becomes a gray area and is up to the refs discretion. I have seen similar calls go either way. The ball came into contact with not one but two hands. The first defender could not have done anything and was simply ball to hand, much like the one that wasn’t called in the other end. The hands were inside the frame of the body (something the refs use to aid them in determining if a foul has occurred). The second defender was in the air, twists with her arm out of the frame of her body and the ball hits her elbow. It was not intentional but it was still something that has, can and will be called by other officials because it prevented a potential goal scoring opportunity. Below is copied from the FIFA rule book on handball offenses. Notice the last line? By FIFA’s rule book definition it is a foul and a PK should be awarded.

      A handball should not be awarded if a player is ruled to have handled the ball accidentally. This refers to a player either attempting to protect himself from injury, for example by placing the hands in front of the face and then being hit by the ball, or a player being hit on the arm by the ball without moving towards the ball and without being able to move out of the way. An example might be a snap shot hitting the arm of a defender at point-blank range. However, if a player’s arm is in an unnatural position, for example outstretched or above their head, then a foul should be awarded whether accidental or not.

      • manspirit1 - Aug 8, 2012 at 3:51 PM

        what about the fact that no such call has ever been made on this level by any referee, no matter how incompetant since 2002 don’t you understand? This despite the fact that in virtually every game, this rule which has been around since 1991 is violated by virtually every team…yes including the united states…believe it or not. What about the discretion of the referee needing to be exercised with common sense dont you understand? What about the fact the handball call must be deliberate ….you know where the person is INTENTIONALLY trying to reroute the ball rather than trying to protect themselves….dont you understand? You might note proximity to the ball that is kicked….god Im glad you re not a referee…”In cases where a player deliberately handles the ball in order to avoid injury, such as shielding the face from the ball, the referee may use discretion to determine whether an offense took place.”
        Here is an article on the issue from asktheref – Referee Discretion required to correctly call hand ball.

        OK, I simply cannot stand it anymore. One cannot go to a game anywhere in the US without someone yelling for a “hand ball” every five minutes. Listen up folks, players, coaches, referees and fans have gotten this rule wrong all of these years, and it’s got to stop. Furthermore, it’s not just beginning players who get the call wrong. Even top-level professional players want referees to call a foul every time a ball hits a player’s hand. In this week’s article we all need to have a little talk about the “hand ball” and what this rule really entails.

        To learn more about the “hand ball,” we need to begin by looking inside our FIFA Laws of the Game to see what the rules really are. First of all, unbeknownst to many, there is no such rule as “hand ball.” In reality, Law XII states that is illegal if a player “handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area)” This means that is not, I repeat not, a foul if the ball touches a player’s hand. It is only a foul if the player intentionally handles the ball. Therefore, all of those times that a defender kicks the ball right into a player’s hand or the ball bounces up and hits an arm, these are not fouls and should not be called.

        Let me also emphasize that nowhere does the rule book say anything about whether or not the player gains an advantage by the ball hitting his or her hand. In other words, even if the ball were to hit a player’s arm and drop right at his feet or even were to go directly into his opponents’ goal, these are not fouls if they were unintentional acts. Apparently, I am not the only one whose feathers have been ruffled by years of bad calls by referees and undeserved abuse from fans. As recently as 1996 FIFA specifically changed the laws to make it very clear that it is only a foul if the player handles the ball deliberately.

        So how can one tell if a hand ball is intentional or not? First, if a ball, such as a clearance out of the defense, hits a player so fast that they have no time to react then this cannot be a hand ball. Likewise, bouncing balls that come up and hit a player’s arm or balls that hit a player’s arm when his or her back is turned are generally not fouls. On the other hand, when a player uses her hand at her side to control a ball that comes in at waist level or has time to reach out and touch a ball, then these clearly should be called. A good rule-of-thumb to use is if the player’s hand comes to the ball, it is a foul. If the ball comes to the hand, it is not a foul.

        Now to all of you parents, coaches, players, and fans who incessantly yell for the referee to call these infractions: you need to sit down and be quiet. There is nothing that makes you look more ignorant of the game than crying for a foul every time the ball touches an arm. Unintentional hand balls are not fouls. Period.

        Finally, to all you referees out there, I know that it is easier to simply call every ball that hits a player’s hand a foul rather than having to make a difficult decision regarding a player’s intent and having to face the wrath of angry (although incorrect) fans. However, you must resist the temptation of making the easy call and have the courage to make the correct call. Calling unintentional hand balls will only make it more difficult in the future for the minority of referees who choose to call the fouls correctly. Remember, no intent, no foul! Let’s start playing and calling the game the way it is meant to be played.

    • jelliot1978 - Aug 8, 2012 at 5:56 PM

      This is a reply to your statement below. You do realize I copied the ruling from FIFA’s rule book. The rule is not just simply if it is intentional or not. There is this line

      However, if a player’s arm is in an unnatural position, for example outstretched or above their head, then a foul should be awarded whether accidental or not.

      This is in there so you cannot go running around in the box with your arms out. That is when a handled ball foul will occur. If you notice what I specifically mentioned about the indirect kick was that the ball hits a player almost immediately after being struck in the chest area where her hands were. This is not a foul. The ball then travels towards another player who is twisting with her arm out to the side. This is where a ref CAN, HAS, WILL, CAN’T, HASN’T, or WON’T call a foul, really just flip a coin because it is basically a 50-50 call. It is at their discretion as you state. This ref, in this instance called for a foul. It is, technically by the rule book, a foul and the ref was correct to call a foul. It wouldn’t have been a bad call if she didn’t call a foul as well because it was a bang bang play and it wasn’t as you say intentional.

      Just because something is not called doesn’t mean that it can’t be called. What part of she was warned don’t you get? Is McLeod allowed to ignore the ref at her pleasure because it hasn’t been called since 02? Really? That would be mighty vain of her. She did NOT LISTEN to the ref. She got called on it. Why is it the ref’s fault that McLeod didn’t listen to her? It is in the rule book, McLeod broke the rule and had to suffer the consequences. I understand that it is difficult to fathom why the ref did it but seriously if the ref warned her what is the ref supposed to do? Let her keep doing it? It should have been called on her earlier than it did because there were plenty of times when she held the ball much longer. There was gamesmanship by Abby Wambach that encouraged the ref to make the call.

      IF everything I have been reading is correct then it is a call that had to unfortunately be made. Would I rather have not seen something like this play such a critical part in the game? Hell yes, I want the game to be won solely on the merits of the players or the tactics of the coach (game plan etc.). But at the same time, I do want the game to be played fairly by both sides. I do not want a player to dive in the box to get a PK called. I really liked what Morgan did when she easily could have ‘tripped’ over the defenders foot and drawn a foul but she jumped over her and pressed the attack. I do not want to see a player get kicked, punched, injured, or badly tackled. I do want the players to adhere to the ref when warned. They have rules in sport for a reason. Many of them are to protect the players from injury, others are to encourage fair play and some off the wall ones are there to prevent time wasting. The ability to break a rule does not depend on the last time it was used. If it is in the rule book, then all players should have to play by that rule and all refs should enforce those rules.

    • jelliot1978 - Aug 8, 2012 at 5:58 PM

      found this link from the bbc about ‘handballs’ and how the refs determine deliberate

  6. wesmorgan1 - Aug 8, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    The author wrote: “Only the most egregious, blatant violation of the perennially-ignored six-second rule, one that demonstrated a nakedly overt effort to defy and show up match officials, deserved such harsh treatment.”

    After being warned at halftime, we saw this in the latter stages of the game: in the 58th minute McLeod held the ball for 17 seconds, in the 59th for 12 seconds, in the 61st for 16 seconds, in the 68th for 11 seconds. (Info from Mike Woitalla of Soccer America, who sat down and timed it.) Finally, she was penalized for her fifth violation of the second half, in which she held the ball for 13 seconds.

    I’d say that holding the ball for almost three times the allowable limit is “egregious.” I’d say that doing so repeatedly AFTER BEING WARNED is “blatant” violation.

    McLeod has no one to blame but herself.

  7. manspirit1 - Aug 8, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    Direct free kick

    A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following seven offences in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:
    •kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
    •trips or attempts to trip an opponent
    •jumps at an opponent
    •charges an opponent
    •strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
    •pushes an opponent
    •tackles an opponent

    A direct free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following three offences:
    •holds an opponent
    •spits at an opponent
    •handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area)

    A direct free kick is taken from the place where the offence occurred (see Law 13 – Position of free kick).

  8. manspirit1 - Aug 8, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    FIFA interpretation
    Handling the ball involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with
    the ball with his hand or arm. The referee must take the following into
    • the movement of the hand towards the ball (not the ball towards the hand)
    • the distance between the opponent and the ball (unexpected ball)
    • the position of the hand does not necessarily mean that there is an
    • touching the ball with an object held in the hand (clothing, shinguard, etc.)
    counts as an infringement
    • hitting the ball with a thrown object (boot, shinguard, etc.) counts as an

  9. manspirit1 - Aug 8, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    Also of note from Welcome to’s dedicated section on the Laws of the Game. Here you can read the latest updated version of the Laws which were last modified at the 126th Annual General Meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in England (Surrey) on 3 March 2012. These came into force on 1 June 2012.

  10. manspirit1 - Aug 8, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    Have you got it yet….or are there still some die-hard imbeciles out there that want to contest this the fact that this was an absolutely horrible decision by the referee.

  11. jayz5050 - Aug 9, 2012 at 1:11 AM

    I’m reading people say yes, the call was extremely rare (as I stated, the last time this call was made was a decade ago) but Pedersen was just following the rule. And some people timed McLeod at 10, 12, 17 seconds etc and therefore Pedersen had to do what no referee in the last decade did and slap a free kick in the box.

    Here’s my point, the referee clearly did not follow the rule! The rule simplified states you have six seconds to release the ball correct? So why wait till what 17, 12, 10 seconds before you make a warning or call? The rule is six seconds right? If the rule is followed duly by Pedersen, at 7 seconds she has to make the call. Anything past that and Pedersen is putting her own interpretation to the rule and not following it! So what was Pedersen’s threshold before she gives a warning or make the call? It’s obvious she had none, was it 17 seconds, was it 12 seconds, was it I’ll make it up as I go along? Because if she was following the rule justly, then it’s 7 seconds! Simple as that! And I will dare to say Hope Solo took more than 7 seconds to release the ball on multiple occasions. The USA got a gift that no soccer team has got in the last decade, a free kick in the box on a six second violation. And credit them for taking advantage of it at the most opportune time. But I hope you agree that there is nothing wrong with calling something baffling when you only see it once called every 2 presidential elections?

  12. manspirit1 - Aug 9, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    Again unbelievable the extent to which some Americans will go to justify an obscenely bad set of calls. What a corruptible value system you have. Here is an article from The ChronicleHerald
    The critical, controversial call that helped the U.S. women’s soccer team score the tying goal in its overtime victory over Cana­da may not have been wrong, but that does not mean it was right, either.

    Referee Christiana Pedersen’s ruling that the Canadian goal­keeper had been wasting time, giving an indirect free kick to the Americans, was one that many veteran players and coaches say they have never seen, and many described it as baffling.

    Even soccer governing bodies advise using extreme caution when making such a call.

    With Canada leading, 3-2, in the 78th minute Monday, Peder­sen ruled that Canada’s goal­keeper, Erin McLeod, held the ball for more than six seconds after making a save. The ensuing free kick led to a penalty kick in what turned out to be a 4-3 win for the Americans.

    The rule in question falls un­der Law 12 of FIFA’s Laws of the Game. FIFA’s official interpreta­tion of that law includes a nota­tion that states “a goalkeeper is not permitted to keep control of the ball in his hands for more than six seconds.”

    But U.S. Soccer, the English Football Association and other governing bodies have emphas­ized to referees that the rule is discretionary, and is not meant to be called except for egregious violations.

    On the play, according to The New York Times, McLeod caught a corner kick, fell to the grass, got up after about four seconds, then punted the ball away 10 or 11 seconds later. Other accounts of the match had McLeod releasing the ball after about eight seconds.

    Either way, Pedersen had al­ready blown the whistle — too soon, according to some inter­pretations.

    The six-second count is sup­posed to begin not from the mo­ment the goalkeeper first gains possession of the ball, but after she gathers herself, gets up and begins to look for a teammate to play it to, as U.S. Soccer notes in its advice to referees: “Infringement of the six­second rule is sometimes misin­terpreted,” the federation noted in its Ask a Referee online column. “The count starts when the goalkeeper is preparing to release the ball, not when he or she actually gains possession.

    Why? Because very often the goalkeeper has to disentangle him-/herself from other players or move around fallen players, and it would be unfair to begin the count in such a case.”

    But such minute distinctions are secondary to the overriding principle emphasized to referees: to not blow the whistle for of­fenses deemed trifling.

    “Technically the goalkeeper must release the ball within six seconds of having established full control, which would not count rising from the ground or stopping their run (if they had to run) to gain the ball,” U.S. Soccer noted. “However, goalkeepers throughout the world routinely violate the six-second rule without punishment if the refer­ee is convinced that the goal­keeper is making a best effort.”

    Moreover, U.S. Soccer advised referees in a 2010 memorandum, “Before penalizing a goalkeeper for violating this time limit, the referee should warn the goal­keeper about such actions and then should penalize the vio­lation only if the goalkeeper continues to waste time or com­mits a comparable infringement again later in the match.”

    Was McLeod making a best effort? Pedersen has not said; requests from newspapers and television in her native Norway to interview her were turned down because she is prohibited by FIFA from speaking to report­ers without the world body’s permission.

    Certainly McLeod did hold the ball for about 12 seconds after gaining possession on two separ­ate occasions, in both the 58th minute and the 61st. But even in those cases, she appeared to be making an honest effort to find a player to whom she could send a pass.

    Nevertheless, the Americans’ Abby Wambach was in Peder­sen’s ear, doing what many play­ers do when their team is losing: audibly counting down the seconds after the opposing goal­keeper gets hold of the ball to pressure the keeper to give up the ball, or the referee to make the six-second call.

    “I wasn’t yelling; I was just counting,” Wambach said Tues­day in an interview with Yahoo Sports. “Probably did it five to seven times.”

    In the 78th minute, Wambach said, she did it again, and this time Pedersen bit.

    “I got to 10 seconds right next to the referee, and at 10 seconds she blew the whistle,” she said.

    Referees usually give warnings before issuing cautions for time­wasting, but Pedersen seems not to have done so on the pivotal call.

    McLeod said she was inform­ally warned by an assistant refer­ee at halftime.

    “She said, `Don’t delay the play too much,’ but it wasn’t like a real warning,” McLeod said.

    McLeod added that on the critical call, Pedersen told her that “I held the ball for 10 seconds — she obviously counted the time when I was on the ground.”

    The National Post asked Mc­Leod whether she had indeed held the ball that long.

    “Nowhere near,” McLeod said.

    “I think the referee was very one-sided. I was stunned when it happened.”

    She added: “I have never known this to happen in a game before. It was an interesting decision. Referees never make this kind of decision.”

    Canada’s coach, John Herd­man, noted that it wasn’t as if McLeod “purposely tried to slow the game down, where you see goalkeepers really cheating — she wasn’t doing that.” He said McLeod was simply waiting for her fullbacks to get into position for a short outlet.

    One reason referees do not whistle the six-second rule is because the penalty is so harsh: an indirect free kick from the spot of the violation, inside the penalty area. Several hundred games can go by without an indirect free kick being awarded inside a penalty area.

    Almost invariably, when goal­keepers are cautioned for time­wasting, it happens during a goal kick. That way, the referee can give a yellow card to the keeper, who then simply takes the goal kick, so that the match itself is not affected.

    FIFA added the six-second rule to Law 12 in 1998, but it has always been seen as a guideline more than as a hard-and-fast regulation, and not to be invoked unless there is an egregious vio­lation.

    “If a goalkeeper takes six, seven or eight seconds when there is no evidence of deliberate time-wasting, why spoil the game when there is no need to?” as an Indiana soccer referees federation noted. “It’s very much like the leeway given when a throw-in is taken. We would not expect every throw-in to be taken on the exact blade of grass.”

    A BBC article even suggested that the six-second rule be done away with entirely. “No referees adhere to it anyway,” the former Hearts and Dundee United de­fender Allan Preston said. “We don’t want a keeper standing with the ball for more than a minute, but it doesn’t get used.

    Sometimes you see it getting used at the start of the season, but apart from that, you never see a ref pulling up a goalkeeper for holding on to the ball for longer than six seconds.”

    Pedersen’s six-second call was not even the decision that most outraged Herdman, the Canada coach. Rather, it was the hand­ball awarded on the subsequent indirect free kick, when Megan Rapinoe’s hard, close-range shot struck two Canadians in the arms and hands.

    Under the sport’s rules, if a player has no time to move her hands out of the way, no hand­ball foul is to be given.

    • mgdsquiggy17 - Aug 9, 2012 at 1:56 PM

      longest comment EVER

  13. footballer4ever - Sep 8, 2012 at 8:34 PM

    Finally, it was completely wrong no matter how you twist it, justify it or feel about it.

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