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|PHOTO: CAPTAIN AMERICA IS TOTALLY PUMPED, EVERYBODY. USA!|
This kid is my favorite Olympics cosplaying kid. (Getty Images)
America and Canada have a strange relationship. Mostly, it’s extremely cordial. Sometimes it’s very friendly. Always, it’s really, really complicated. As an American, I view Canada through a positive lens at almost all times: Canada is full of polite people who don’t have guns, making it the polar opposite of America. In many ways, I wish my country was more like theirs. But because I’m American and not Canadian, I don’t think I can fully appreciate the role of the USA’s cultural hegemony in the relationship. I have an intellectual understanding that there’s resentment there, but it still always shocks me to see it expressed (did I mention that Canadians are usually uber-polite?).
I mention the dynamic because I think it has a lot to do with the nature of the reaction to the USWNT’s legendary 4-3 win over Canada yesterday. Canadian players fumed, Canadian fans fumed, and while American voices bellow triumphantly about a team that always fights/has so much heart/gives it their all/never quits etc., our friends north of the border see it a case of highway robbery, in broad daylight, by the authorities. In other words (and don’t get me wrong; the respective narrative slants here are not unique in sports in any way, shape, or form), Canada didn’t lose that game, it was stolen from them. Players came right out and said so.
Canadian forward and hat trick-scorer Christine Sinclair (who was galactic orders of magnitude immense in the game):
“We feel like we didn’t lose, we feel like it was taken from us. It’s a shame in a game like that, which is so important, that the ref decided the result before the game started.”
Oof. Accusations don’t come much clearer than that.
All of this, of course, hinges on the crucial six-second call against Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod in the 80th minute, with Canada up 3-2. The referee gave the American an indirect kick in the penalty area because McLeod held the ball in her hands for more than 6 seconds; when Megan Rapinoe’s shot hit off two Canadian players’ arms, the referee awarded the Americans the penalty that allowed them to bring the game level, and by extension, eventually win.
The problem for Canada is that the call is technically correct, if absurdly rare. The Laws of the Game state clearly that if the goalkeeper holds the ball for more than 6 seconds, the opposing team will have an indirect free kick inside the penalty area. Unfortunately, that particular Law of the Game is so widely ignored that it immediately smacked of manipulation for those inclined to see favoritism towards the USA around every corner.
And maybe they’re right, in the sense that the referee was biased for the “bigger” team. In the world of football, that’s a reality hardly worth mentioning. Ideally, referees would call everything perfectly down the middle, with no perceptible tilt either way. In reality, referees are fallible human beings who are subject to things like crowd pressure, persuasive players, and star power.
Does that excuse the Norweigan referee Christiana Pedersen’s decision?
That depends on whether or not you believe it needs excusing. Which, I think, may come down to your nationality.
Again, as an American, it’s impossible for me to claim impartiality here, which means it’s probably not fair for me to judge the Canadian reaction. But I fairly certiain of at least one thing: Everyone involved—from the players down to the media types, both professional and amateur—are saying things that seem over-the-top, out-of-character, and tinged with something other than the normal winner/loser coloration.
Or maybe Canada just got screwed. I mean, the six second rule is NEVER CALLED, ever ever ever. Luckily, I don’t have time to delve into the problem that is having rules on the books that are never called or the issues with a culture that accepts that there are rules that should be ignored. Hooray?
|APPARENTLY, THE REFEREE ‘GIGGLED.’ DAMNING EVIDENCE OF AN ANTI-CANADIAN CONSPIRACY, THAT.|
I kid. Please be my friends, Canadians. Here’s more of the fallout, because whatever your allegiances, that games was AH-MAZE-INGS. // Fourth Place Medal
|OOH AHH, THOSE TWO WOMEN JUST GOT DID THEIR BEST CANTONA.|
Magnificent giffage of Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan doing their best King Eric impressions on the hallowed pitch in the Theatre of Dreams. // Invent Football
|WHILE I DO NOT CONDONE THE ACTIVITY, I FULLY APPLAUD THE SPIRIT IN WHICH IT WAS TAKEN. AHEM.|
A Sunday league team made a video of themselves playing in their underwear to try and drum up a sponsor (get it? No sponsor, no kits). Clever or disturbing? YOU DECIDE. // Kickette
|PHOTOS: ALL HEART, ALL CLASS. BETTER THAN YOU OR ANYONE YOU KNOW.|
|MARCELO’S KID IS REALLY CUTE, BUT JUST WAIT UNTIL HE STARTS KICKING PEOPLE.|
If your dad is famous and his long hair is part of his “identity”, do you, as the kid of the famous dad, have to have long hair? I’m guessing the answer is “yes.” // Futbolita
|FORGET GIVING BOLT A POSITION, JUST LET HIM RUN WHERE HE LIKES.|
A First XI of London Olympians. Usain Bolt’s in there, which has me wondering how breathtaking a 100 yard run from Bolt to score might be. Woosh. // The Other 87
|THIS REMINDS ME OF A CALVIN AND HOBBES STRIP, WHICH IS THE THING THAT MAKES IT AWESOME.|
In a friendly against Santos Laguna of Mexico over the weekend in Vegas, Sami Khedira scored with his face. // Dirty Tackle
|PHOTO: FACES THAT SAY ‘WE WENT TO THE BORING IPO PRESENTATION AND ALL WE GOT WAS THIS STUPID BALL AND THIS DUMB HAT.’|
This is a photo someone decided was worth taking of bankers leaving the Manchester United IPO presentation in New York. Journalism! (Reuters)
|‘YES, YES, CAZORLA IS A FINE PLAYER…NOW WHAT ABOUT VAN PERSIE?’|
Arsenal has signed Santi Cazorla from Malaga. This actually has Gunners fans excited, which is he biggest surprise of the transfer window so far. // Off the Post
|THE ONLY THING I LEARNED IS THAT FOOTBALL IS SERIOUS BUSINESS. MEN OR WOMEN.|
There were lessons to be learned from the victory over Canada for the USWNT. Here they are. // Bleacher Report
|HEY, AT LEAST SOCCER IS MAKING THE FRONT PAGE…PLEASE DON’T HIT ME, CANADA.|