LONDON — Canada players are clear to start the bronze-medal match at the Olympic women’ soccer tournament because a FIFA probe into their behavior won’t be completed before the game kicks off Thursday.
FIFA is investigating “incidents that occurred” following Canada’s 4-3 semifinals loss against the United States on Monday.
Canada players, including forward Christine Sinclair who scored all three of her team’s goals, were openly critical of the Norwegian match referee.
However, FIFA said Wednesday that its disciplinary panel cannot prosecute the case before Canada plays France for bronze.
“In view of the elements currently at its disposal, the FIFA disciplinary committee considers that further investigation will be needed regarding incidents that occurred” after the match,” FIFA said in a statement. “Further information will be provided in due course, but not prior to the bronze-medal match.”
Canada conceded the winning goal in stoppage time at the end of extra time in a thrilling match at Old Trafford.
The North American team’s players and coach were angered by referee Christiana Pedersen awarding an indirect free kick against goalkeeper Erin McLeod that led to the Americans’ 80th-minute equalizer.
McLeod was whistled for holding the ball longer than six seconds, and the resulting shot from the U.S. free kick was judged to have been handled by a Canadian defender. Abby Wambach scored the penalty to make the score 3-3.
“We feel like we didn’t lose, we feel like it was taken from us,” McLeod said later. “It’s a shame in a game like that, which is so important, that the ref decided the result before the game started.”
Sinclair said that the Canada players “feel cheated.”