It was like being in the right spot at the right time, while a masterpiece was being created, when a miracle was unfolding or a grand rarity of natural beauty was being born.
It was like the US Men’s hockey team taking on the Soviets in 1980.
But a couple of skittish whistles, which have led to an avalanche of howling Tweets since, poured asparagus-tainted wee wee on the masterpiece, splattered monkey feces all over the miracle and sprayed acid on the natural beauty.
If you are Canadian and have just an iota of interest in public affairs, you know by now that the Canadian women’s Olympic soccer team was brutally jobbed at venerable Old Trafford Stadium July 6 in the semi-final match against the heavily favoured Americans.
A couple of startlingly questionable and avoidable calls by a Norwegian referee essentially gift wrapped a come-from-behind victory for the Americans and now all of Canada is up in arms and the high pitch of the whining is being heard around the globe.
It makes me trail back to the 1984 Summer Games when two Canadian boxers were on the short end of horseshit stick loaded up by the political assholes who continue to sully the once brilliant sheen of the Olympics. Shawn O’Sullivan and Willie DeWitt were heavy favourites going into the LA Games, and yet both failed to tag down gold – losing to inferior American fighters.
O’Sullivan, poised to become Canada’s latest and greatest golden boy, faced American Frank Tate and he basically gave the guy a thrashing. Tate had to take two standing eight counts and dodged a third one thanks to forgiving refereeing and had the third standing eight count happened, Tate would have lost the fight. Even though O’Sullivan pounded the snot out of Tate, the judges scored the fight 20-19 in favour of the home nation lad.
Making it all the less painful was a later admission from Tate’s legendary coach Emanuel Steward that he believed O’Sullivan won the fight.
DeWitt fought American Henry Tillman for gold in the heavy weight category and in a controversial ‘count back’ he found himself palming silver while the hometown American danced around with undeserved, tainted gold.
Now, I expect boxing to come with some ridiculous and altogether purchased decisions as it is riddled with corruption and mob sickness, but soccer I expect to be left pure and untouchable.
Alas, a performance of the ages by an underdog Canadian team finding the legs and heart to overcome a vastly superior opponent was cut short by a referee (Christiana Pedersen) who allowed herself to be rushed into a call by a snotty, barking American star striker (Abby Wambach), who admitted shortly after the game that she counted out loud when Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod was holding the ball. The ref called her for not getting rid of the ball fast enough, which resulted in a penalty kick (for delay of game), which then resulted in the kind of call that can get a soccer referee police protection when leaving the stadium. The penalty kick bounced off one Canadian defender and nicked another defender’s hand/forearm. Normally, a wise ref in the middle of a white hot game would let the play continue because the hand contact was extremely incidental. Highlights show the Canadian defender doing everything she can to avoid having the ball hit her hand.
So one lousy call led to an even shittier call and, of course, the soccer gods being lazy and idiotic, the free kick hit the mark and the US tied the game with only 10 minutes left. The Americans scored with 10 or something seconds left in extra time, and dodged going to a 50-50 penalty-kicks-ending with the plucky Canadians.
A masterpiece – a miracle – as it was just appearing, was knocked down and stomped to death by an out-of-her-depth referee who ruined what could have been the defining moment of the ENTIRE London 2012 Games.
Both calls were completely forgivable by the ref but she chose to just flat out screw over the underdogs. Wonder why? The questions are now flying about and accusations of purchase and greasiness and other such tawdry and staining things are everywhere in the media.
Are Canadians just whiners? Should we suck it up, put on a brave face and keep marching forward?
The quick and simple answer is ‘yes.’ No one likes a whiner, even if they have a point. So Canada must, as it did back in 1984, just move on and forget about it.
The enormous surge in popularity and the corporate support boost and exposure girls’/women’s soccer, and even boys’ and men’s soccer, would have received in this country IF Canada hadn’t been bent over backwards by a referee, would have elevated the world’s most popular sport to levels never before seen in this country.
FIFA, which I believe stands for ‘Firstly Incorrigible Formerly Admired’, like the wannabe pantheon that is the International Olympic Committee (IOC), then took extreme umbrage when Canadian goddess Christine Sinclair, who almost single-handedly beat the Americans herself and put on an athletic/sports performance that must rank in the top three to five all-time in Canadian sport, complained rather bitterly about the officiating.
It threatened to suspend Sinclair and possibly other Canadian players for comments made about the ref.
Rightfully, FIFA is backing down until after the Canada-France bronze medal game (Thursday, August 9) – when it has more time to whip itself into an angry fit watching all the blown calls that helped the Yanks and pooched the Canucks. And pigs will fly gracefully from the rectums of unicorns with golden panthers singing Hallelujah on their backs, on saddles made of phoenix skin.
Sadly, it seems that Canada does end up on the short end of Olympic shit sticks on a fairly regular basis. Remember the 2002 Winter Games when figure skating pairs partners Jamie Sale and David Pelletier skated a flawless routine but ended up losing to a Russian pair, because a French judge (Marie-Reine Le Gougne) had some Provencal sauce slathered across her eyes and failed to see the obvious technical fault in the Russians’ performance?
Good old righteous whining won the day that time, as the IOC overturned the shoddy judging and the Canadians ended up winning the gold medal that should have been handed to them after their final routine. Sadly, it was pressure from the American media who echoed the howls coming from Canada, that likely forced the IOC to remove its head from its fat Euro-centric arse.
The American media ain’t howling this time. They’re making their soccer lady stars out to be minor goddesses, even before they play Japan in the gold medal game.
This time Canada stands alone – a bit shamed because we’ve whined so much, and wounded to the quick by yet another Olympic poke in the eye.
In the end, I will remember the London Olympics for the brilliant performance of Christine Sinclair and other Canadian soccer players such as the gutsy Desiree Scott, the wronged Erin McLeod and the powerful Melissa Tancredi – heroes all.
Alas, suck it up Canada. Whining ain’t pretty and it rarely solves anything, unless you’re a three-year-old after a sugary treat.
Give the Americans credit for playing an excellent game. That soccer match was one of the greatest sporting moments I’ve ever observed during an Olympic Games and yet human fallibility torched it.
It is time for soccer to do what hockey and football have done – allow for sober second thought on calls that can be challenged by a coach or a team captain.
Because losing a game due to calls that smell to the high heavens is an abomination against the Olympic spirit, which used to be about gamesmanship and sportsmanship and human togetherness.
Canada’s women’s soccer team will forever be etched in our memory as masterpieces that failed to receive a final brilliant stroke. They will linger in the collective sporting conscience of this nation forever.
May their suffering serve to inspire future generations to seek revenge on the pitch and may soccer in Canada continue to improve and move forward.
Sadly, money and television ratings mean more to the IOC than anything else, and Canada is sort of like the Buffalo Sabres or Winnipeg Jets making it to the finals instead of the New York Rangers or Philadelphia Flyers, if you get my drift… nudge nudge wink winkity ding-dang wink.
Go Canada go! And may the bronze medal game referee fail to incite a Canadian invasion of Europe. Don’t laugh you who are historically ignorant. We do pretty well when we’re armed and ready and all the chips are on the table in Europe. Wars have been started by much more idiotic things, such as oil, land, wealth and ego and we’ve got lots of that shit.
Ian Cobb/e-KNOWTags: 2012 Summer GamesCanadian women's soccerChristine SInclaircrappy refse-KNOWIan CobbJP PariseKootenay CrustLondon OlympicsOld TraffordShawn O'SullivanWillie DeWitt
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