Bad officiating takes shine off FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015
The “outstanding performance” of the referees started early in this World Cup, already in the opening game. The Ukraine referee Kateryna Monzul made a controversial decision to award a late penalty that gave the lead to Canada’s 1-0 win over China.
The refereeing “good performance” remained throughout all group stage. In Thailand‘s 3-2 win over Ivory Coast, two missed offside calls led to two goals that sealed the African team’s fate.
Another team affected by refereeing mistakes at group stage was New Zealand. In the team’s first game, against the Netherlands, the referee did not award an absolutely clear penalty to the Football Ferns that prevented a possible tying goal.
During France‘s shock 2-0 defeat to Colombia in the Group stage, France were denied a clear penalty when the Colombian player used her hand to swipe the ball away from Eugenie Le Sommer’s head.
In New Zealand‘s last match, against China, the Football Ferns needed a win to advance past the group stage. But the referee awarded an incorrect penalty for a handball that didn’t actually happened. China netted the penalty, tying the game, which cost New Zealand the knockout stage. “Hand to ball or ball to hand?” This seems to have been a major issue to referees in Canada.
In the Quarter-finals, another penalty was awarded after a questionable handball. In the most highly anticipated match of the tournament, that was seen as an “early final”, the referee called a handball when an attempted cross struck the upper arm of a French defender. Celia Sasic converted and tied the match, which was clearly dominated by les Bleues. The equalizing goal allowed Germany to beat France in a penalty shootout and reach the World Cup semi-finals.
After this World Cup I’d like to see a review of the handball rule … Cos quite frankly, It’s turning into a joke. 🙌🏻 — Jessica Fishlock (@JessFishlock) June 26, 2015
As Jess Fishlock tweeted, the “handball rule” was turning into a joke during Women’s World Cup. Maybe players should be armless as Aphrodite of Milos statue to make referees’s lives easier in the next Women’s World Cup edition!
For those unfamiliar with the “handball rule”, in FIFA’s Laws of the Game 2005, Law 12 declares that a free-kick or penalty will be awarded if a player “handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within her own penalty area)”.
After having benefited Germany in the quarterfinals, the bad refereeing cost for them dear against USA in the semi-finals. The match was tied and goalless when, in the 60th minute, Sasic missed a penalty kick. The penalty was awarded by Romanian referee Teodora Albon after Julie Johnston pulled down a German player in the box. The rule is clear, Johnston should have been red-carded and sent off. Instead, she received a yellow card and remained on the field.
Later in the match, Krahn brought down Alex Morgan in a foul that was clearly outside penalty box and Lloyd converted the penalty. Few minutes from the final whistle O’Hara scored a goal that wrecked Germany’s hopes. The United States was the best team in the game, this is fact, but what could have happened if they had been down to 10 players as they should have been and without that penalty call? After the poor decisions of the referee the doubt will remain.
Lastly, fans were also graced with a “marvelous” refereeing performance in the other semi-final match, after two penalties (that didn’t exist!) were awarded. First, the English defender Rafferty was punished for a foul outside of the penalty box and Miyama netted (Japan 1-0), then England tied, Fara Williams converted after captain Steph Houghton had taken a flop in the penalty area (1-1). We can not blame the referee for this match’s outcome which was to be decided by England’s unlucky last-minute own goal that gave Japan a spot in the final.
Video: Compilation of some of the questionable decisions:
In total, 22 referees, 49 assistant referees and 7 support referees have worked in Women’s World Cup in Canada. All of them are women (another good debate, should the officials be restricted to women only or should officials for the job be chosen on merit, regardless of gender?). Some of the officials at this tournament have been very good. But others have been committing really bad calls that could not only have changed the outcome of matches but also of the tournament.
To sum up, FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 edition has been marked by the clear development of women’s football in terms of strength, technique and skill but also by crass errors of the referees. So now it is time to claim the development of women’s refereeing in order that a bad refereeing does not take the brightness of a major tournament such as a Women’s World Cup.
Women’s football enthusiast based in Brazil. Supporting and raising the profile of the women’s game.