Home Canadian Soccer The Association It’s hypocritical for sports journalists to criticize Christine Sinclair for speaking her mind

It’s hypocritical for sports journalists to criticize Christine Sinclair for speaking her mind

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The Canadian Soccer Association is asking FIFA to explain why it has levied a 3,000-Swiss franc fine and a four-game suspension on Christine Sinclair.

FIFA has been investigating Sinclair since the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics, when she publicly criticized the work of Norwegian referee Christina Pedersen after Canada dropped a hearbreaking 4-3 extra-time decision to the United States.

Here is the statement that was issued by the CSA on Friday, in its entirety:

“The Canadian Soccer Association has been notified by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee of decision 120450 CAN ZH rendered on 5 October, 2012 that Canada’s Women’s National Team player Christine Sinclair has been suspended for four (4) matches and fined for displaying unsporting behaviour towards match officials after the match played between Canada and USA of the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament London 2012.

“Upon receipt of this decision, the Canadian Soccer Association has requested the reasons for judgement from the FIFA Disciplinary Committee.

“No further information will be available from the Canadian Soccer Association or media interviews granted on this decision until such time as those reasons for judgment are received and reviewed by the Canadian Soccer Association.”

Sinclair can serve the suspension in friendlies — which is a good thing, as Canada does not have any meaningful matches in the near future and, as hosts of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, do not have to qualify. Considering that Sinclair has previously spoken about taking the autumn off so she can plan her career in the wake of the WPS collapse, if Canada schedules any matches in the coming months, she might not have played anyway.

The 3,000 francs is equivalent to about CDN$3,500.

Sinclair was one of many members of the Canadian contingent, including coach John Herdman, who spoke to the media about Pedersen’s controversial decisions in the match, including her delay-of-game call on keeper Erin McLeod that gave the Americans a free kick just outside the Canadian penalty area as Canada nursed a 3-2 lead. Megan Rapinoe’s free-kick careened onto the arm of Marie-Eve Nault, and Pedersen awarded the penalty that allowed the U.S. to tie the game.

And maybe this is the problem with sport today — we have become far too quick to judge athletes who are frustrated when they lose. As journalists, we are such hypocrites — we want our subjects and interviews to give us as much colour as they can, to be as honest and emotional as possible, then, after the stories run, we go off and say “(s)he shouldn’t have said that to the media.”

And I wish the authorities would think more and more about the long-term damage that’s done to the sport when players are censured for saying what they feel. It’s that kind of honesty that makes hockey journalism from the ‘50s and ‘60s so much more compelling than what we have now; not because the writers were necessarily better, but their subjects didn’t retreat to safe clichés in order to escape the eyes of disciplinarians.

Sinclair was mad. She had cameras stuck in her face. And she didn’t use a cliché. As a journalist, I thank her. And that makes it hypocritical for me to criticize her.

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