In an interview with Fox Sports, US women’s national team captain Abby Wambach apologised for suggesting referee Stephanie Frappart “purposely” gave two US players yellow cards in the Colombia game knowing they would result in one-games suspensions.
In the US’s 2-0 win over Colombia in the Round of 16, both Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday picked up their second yellow cards of the tournament. They will now be suspended for the quarterfinals. After the game, Wambach wondered if the ref went out of her way to get Rapinoe and Holiday suspended.
Wambach has since backtracked. Her statement on Tuesday:
“I’m not in the referee’s head, and that’s something I definitely take ownership of and apologise for because I don’t know what the referee is thinking. She is doing the very best job she can, so are the players.
“We’re all trying to do our very best, and that’s what I feel bad about. Because I think that’s what was taken a little bit wrong in what I said, because I don’t know what she was thinking, and nobody can. She’s doing the best she can. And for me, I have the utmost respect for all the referees who are refereeing these games, and for all the players because this is such a big event. No way did I intend to offend her, and my biggest apologies if it was offensive in any way.”
Under FIFA rules, if a player accumulates two yellow cards within the first five matches of the World Cup she receives a one-game suspension. Wambach originally suggested to ESPN’s Graham Hays that the yellows were weak:
“I don’t know if [the fouls] were yellows. It seemed like she was purposefully giving those yellows to maybe players that she knew were sitting on yellows. I don’t know if that was just a psychological thing, who knows. Who knows.”
Wambach’s apology may not be enough to avoid discipline from FIFA. Ingrid Jonsson of FIFA’s referees committee originally told USA Today’s Martin Rogers that Wambach’s comments could be “a question for the disciplinary committee.” Some, such as the Toronto Sun’s Kurtins Larson, are calling for Wambach to be suspended like Canada’s Christine Sinclair was during the 2012 Olympic Games. Sinclair missed four games due to “unsporting behaviour” for questioning a referee’s integrity.
Due to time constraints — the US plays China Friday in the quarterfinals — Rogers believes it’s unlikely Wambach will receive any discipline until after the World Cup.
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