FIFA is investigating…the comments made after Monday’s Canada-U.S. soccer match

If Canadians weren't already riled up enough following the women's soccer team's controversial 4-3 loss to the U.S. Monday, world soccer governing body FIFA added fuel to the fire Tuesday with an announcement that they're investigating not the officiating in the match itself, but rather "incidents that occurred after the conclusion" of the contest. Theoretically, that could be anything, including American striker Abby Wambach's admission that she tried to manipulate Norwegian referee Christiana Pedersen by counting the seconds Canadian keeper Erin McLeod hung onto the ball. However, given FIFA's history of defending their officials at all costs in these matters, it's far more likely that they're going after Canadians like star striker Christine Sinclair and head coach John Herdman for their comments after the match. That could lead to suspensions for Thursday's bronze-medal match against France, one Herdman has already guaranteed a victory in, but a clash that could get much more difficult if the Canadians are without their star forward and their coach.

It goes without saying that FIFA's most likely actions here wouldn't be popular in Canada. A comparison of Canadian and American front pages shows that there's already plenty of anger over Monday's result, and if the world soccer federation feels inclined to go after the complaining Canadians rather than take a hard look at their own officiating, that's not going to leave a good taste in many Canadian mouths. However, popular support or even a perception of fair play is utterly irrelevant to FIFA, one of the most-criticized organizations on the planet, but one that still wields tremendous power with no real checks or balances. Even Canada's status as host for the next Women's World Cup in 2015 doesn't really matter; Canadians may grumble about FIFA even more than normal if the organization starts handing out suspensions here, but Canadian soccer fans are hardly going to avoid watching their team or start boycotting an event of that calibre even if they detest the organization running it. FIFA has the vast majority of the power in world soccer, and there's very little anyone can do about it.

That's why this situation involves FIFA instead of the International Olympic Committee, too. Sport federations have a good degree of control of their own events within the Olympics, and that's doubly true for FIFA, the only international sports body here that even wields comparable power to the IOC. If they elect to act as many expect, suspending Canadians like Sinclair and Herdman who criticized the officiating Monday while not looking into the officiating itself, that's going to tick off a lot of Canadians, but that really won't bother FIFA all that much. Canada will have to wait and see what happens here, but their goal of picking up a bronze medal Thursday may have just got much more difficult.

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