Chorus of support for Christine Sinclair after FIFA suspension
Published Friday, October 12, 2012 4:12PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, October 12, 2012 9:37PM EDT
The Canadian government added its voice to those sticking up for Canadian soccer star Christine Sinclair Friday after FIFA decided to suspend her for comments made about officials during the London Olympics.
"I encourage all Canadians to keep the pride flowing for Christine Sinclair,” wrote Minister of State for Sport Bal Gosal in a statement sent out to media Friday night. “I am so proud of our Canadian Women's Soccer Team's bronze medal win at the London 2012 Olympic Summer Games -- our first medal in summer team sport since 1936."
FIFA is suspending Sinclair for four games because she displayed “unsporting behaviour” toward match officials at the London Olympics.
Earlier in the day, Canadian athletes and fans reacted with outrage to the decision, saying FIFA was trying to assert itself by levelling an overly harsh penalty against a star player.
“Christine Sinclair fined and suspended four matches by FIFA for 'unsporting behaviour'. Insert joke about FIFA here...” wrote retired soccer player Jason deVos on his Twitter account.
Olympic mogul skier Jennifer Heil called the move “outrageous” in another tweet.
Sinclair, the captain of the Canadian team, is also being fined for the incident that took place following Canada’s close 4-3 semifinal loss to the U.S. women’s soccer team. FIFA has not said how much the fine is, but some reports have pegged it at $3,500.
After the match, Sinclair was quoted as saying the team felt “cheated” because of several calls by match officials that they deemed unfair.
Sinclair, who scored all three goals in the game, was particularly upset about an indirect free kick awarded against Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod for holding the ball too long. The American team was awarded a free kick inside the box which bounced off the arm of defender Marie-Eve Nault, resulting in a penalty shot that tied the game.
It's a rule that none of the Canadian players, nor coach John Herdman, nor American coach Pia Sundhage, had ever seen enforced.
"We feel like we didn't lose, we feel like it was taken from us," Sinclair said moments after the final whistle. "It's a shame in a game like that that was so important, the ref decided the result before it started."
In interviews given days after the match Sinclair stood by her comments.
Her FIFA disciplinary hearing was held in Switzerland Friday.
A number of Twitter posts disagreeing with FIFA’s call received hundreds of retweets.
“Sinclair suspension dumbest thing I ever heard!! No guts to do it during the games, what's the point after?” wrote hockey player and gold medalist Hayley Wickenheiser.
On Facebook, a number of fans even set up a page to help raise money so Sinclair doesn’t have to pay the fine herself.
The Canadian Soccer Association responded with a short statement Friday, saying it would be looking to FIFA to explain the suspension.
“Upon receipt of this decision, the Canadian Soccer Association has requested the reasons for judgement from the FIFA Disciplinary Committee,” the statement said.
The CSA said it would not comment on the decision any further until it had heard back from FIFA.
Sinclair was considered one of Canada’s stars on the 2012 Olympic team, and was rewarded for her efforts by being named Canada’s flag bearer for the Closing Ceremony.
- with files from The Canadian Press