I’m still angry. And the more I think about it, the angrier I get.
I’m trying to take the high road, and tell myself that Norwegian referee Christina Pedersen did not deliberately tilt the epic Canada-USA women’s soccer game Monday towards the U.S.
But I can’t, because I don’t believe it. The more I think about it, the more I believe that Pedersen’s pro-USA bias overcame any shred of common sense she might have had, and gave the USA a goal.
It was, in the genteel parlance of sports, a screw job. I’m sure you’ve heard of it or seen it, but Pederson’s call that the Canadian goaltender held on to the ball too long was one of the most egregious cases of official cheating I’ve ever seen. Not only was the call wrong, it was a call that is virtually NEVER MADE in soccer, much less a game with gold medal implications. Worst yet, when Pedersen’s gambit to give the USA a chance on goal failed, she simply went to the back up plan of calling a handball, which was also spectacularly unfair.
Now, I don’t for a minute believe that Pedersen was bribed by the US. But she calls were so outlandishly wrong, so incredibly biased towards the Americans, that the only conclusion that you can draw is that she favored the US. After all, the US team is the Golden Girls, the pampered, spoiled, classless princesses of American sports, the team with the most money behind them and a favorite of American TV. Pedersen knew it, and the only conclusion that can be drawn from her performance is that she knew the International Olympic Committee wanted the US in the final, and she wanted to keep her masters happy.
Pedersen enters the rogues gallery of referees who tried to alter the outcome of games. The most famous of all was the West German duo of Josef Kompalla and Franz Baader from the Canada-Russia series of 1972, whose incompetence is so ingrained that I can remember their names 40 years later. These referees were chosen by the Russians, who were desperate to win the series and had no qualms about cheating. Kompalla and Baader (know to the Canadian media as Baader and Worst) were outrageously biased toward the Russians, so much so that Canada threatened to withdraw from the tournament if they were allowed the referee the final game. Those two thieves nearly pulled it off.
Who can forget the Canada-USA gold medal women’s hockey game at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002? In that game, the penalties were 13-4 in the U.S favor, including a pair of 5-on-3s, while the Americans got only four. The referee? An American named Stacey Livingston, who didn’t even try to hide her pro-American bias. How the IOC would allow an American to referee a gold medal match featuring an American team was beyond belief, but incredibly they did it again last year when a Canadian was put in charge of the gold medal game.
Christina Pedersen, welcome to the club of infamy. We in Canada will put your smiling, smirking mug on the wall of shame, right next to Baader, Kompalla and Livingston.