Poor refereeing overshadows U.S. stunning win over Brazil
It was a story book ending to an exciting match between two of the best teams in the world. However, the play by both sides was overshadowed by the lack of efficient refereeing, blown calls that should have been made and controversial calls that were made. Australian referee Jacqui Melksham and her team started the game on a good note, blowing the whistle on overly aggressive tackles and fouls. One yellow card was produced to U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd. It was a good call due to the timing of her slide, which was late, and how her cleats were exposed to the opposing player.
The second half was a different story for the referee team. In the 51st minute, Melksham was lenient on a handball call on Lloyd that would have produced a yellow card in almost any other game. Lloyd should have been awarded the yellow card for the blatant handball, which would have sent her off the pitch with two yellows. However, Melksham opted to give Brazil a free kick and let Lloyd continue to play.
In the 68th minute, defender Rachel Buehler was shown a red card for a foul to deny a goal in the box. If refereeing were consistent, Buehler should not have been thrown from the game. In the game against Sweden, United States defender Amy LePeilbet clumsily tackled a Swedish player in the box, and Sweden was awarded a penalty kick. LePeilbet was shown a yellow card, but she was not thrown from the game. Buehler was called for a foul that prevented a goal opportunity. LePeilbet was called for the same thing. Buehler should have been giving a warning, especially since it was her first foul call in the game. However, Buehler was tossed from the game, and Brazil was awarded a penalty kick. Cristiane took it for the Brazilians. Hope Solo made an amazing save, but Melksham blew her whistle, disallowed the save, and had Brazil retake the penalty kick. It was the most controversial call of the game and the entire World Cup. Melksham issued a yellow card to Solo for moving forward off her line before the ball was struck. After reviewing the replay Solo makes lateral movements on her line, but according to FIFA laws, a goal keeper is allowed to move laterally along the line between the goal posts before the penalty kick is taken. Solo makes no forward movements, but was penalized for making a spectacular block. Marta took the second chance penalty kick and tied the game, 1-1, on a very controversial and disappointing call.
In the 90th minute, Rapinoe was issued a confusing yellow card on a free kick that was awarded to the United States. It was unknown why the card was given because a foul was not issued on Rapinoe. One explanation was that Rapinoe took the free kick too quickly, but I have never seen a yellow card issued for quick play. Rapinoe may have said something to Welksham that warranted a yellow card, but after watching the play again, it does not appear that Rapinoe was angry or frustrated with Welksham, and I still have not figured out why Rapinoe was given a yellow card. If Rapinoe received a yellow card, Brazil should have been awarded with a free kick, but the United States took the free kick after Rapinoe got the yellow.
The final controversial call was a missed offsides call that led directly to a Brazil goal. Brazil had the ball in the box and a pass was slipped to Maurine who turned and crossed the ball to Marta who acrobatically flicked the ball with her left foot into the goal. What the referees missed was that Maurine received the ball in an offside position. The line judge has the job of calling offsides calls. The line judge must line up with the defensive line to see if the opposing players receive the ball in an offsides position. It was the line judge’s job to raise the flag on the play, and the line judge missed the call. It was especially controversial after the United States had been called offsides on a much closer calls on previous plays.
There are no replays in soccer, and it can be a blessing and a curse to the game. In this game, the lack of replays was definitely a curse. Spectators and those watching on TV are given the opportunity to watch plays over and determine if the call that was made was correct or not. After watching every controversial call over, it was apparent that Melksham was one of the referees that replays should be made an option for. It was atrocious how inaccurately she called many important plays.
Melksham’s refereeing was not all bad. In the 114th minute in the second half of extra time, Brazilian defender Erika appeared to be injured in the box. Melksham stopped play to allow the medical staff to attend to Erika. After nearly four minutes passed, Erika was put on a stretcher. As soon as the medical staff carried Erika off the field, she hopped up off the stretcher and ran down the sideline. Erika’s “injury” was an ugly display of unsportsmanlike behavior and time wasting. Melksham immediately awarded Erika with a yellow card for time wasting. As the game was winding down, Melksham granted three minutes of injury time for Erika’s time wasting. As if karma was on the U.S. side, Wambach scored the game tying goal during the injury time that was awarded for Erika’s time wasting in her attempt to run time out.
Overall, the refereeing in the quarterfinals match between the United States and Brazil was poor. Melksham made calls that were made were so inaccurate it could have cost the game for the United States. The refereeing mishaps were unfortunate because I don’t like to see a game that is determined by calls made by the referees. The whistle blew more often than not and the referee felt the need to lecture players. During corner kicks, Melksham blew her whistle to stop play to drag players away for warnings disrupting the flow and momentum of the game. Melksham awarded eight yellow cards and one red card. The United States’ miraculous win will share the spotlight with Welksham’s poor refereeing. I hope FIFA and the World Cup committees will review the job done by Welksham and not allow her to continue refereeing during the World Cup.