Home Women's Soccer Olympics Sinclair and Herdman not on the FIFA awards shortlist: Let the punishment continue

Sinclair and Herdman not on the FIFA awards shortlist: Let the punishment continue

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Christine Sinclair and John Herdman received their REAL punishment from FIFA today.

Sinclair, who set a new Canadian national-team record for goals in a season and led the women’s Olympic tournament in scoring, did not make Thursday’s shortlist for the women’s Ballon D’Or. Americans Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach were on the list as was Marta, the Brazilian who carries a wonderful reputation but was, in soccer terms, anonymous in 2012.

John Herdman was the coach who inherited a Canadian team that finished point-less at the 2011 World Cup, and transformed them into bronze-medal unit that has us all wondering how far the team can go in the next World Cup. He didn’t appear on the shortlist for women’s-team coach of the year.

Two very deserving candidates. Both should have been automatic choices for the FIFA shortlists.

But, in FIFA’s eyes — they are both controversial figures. And if there is one thing we have learned about FIFA, black sheep rarely get recognized.

Sinclair will serve a four-game international suspension in 2013, punishment handed down by FIFA after Canada’s soccer hero spoke her mind after a heartbreaking loss to the United States in the Olympic semifinal. Sinclair had a game for the ages — even the most devout American supporter would have voted her Player of the Match — with a three-goal performance. But the 4-3 extra-time loss came after a series of controversial calls made by referee Christina Pedersen, and Sinclair made her feelings known.

Herdman then later defended his star player, saying it’s unfair for players who have just suffered such a crushing loss to have cameras stuck in their faces and be expected to utter only politically correct statements.

But maybe the cincher for Sinclair’s Ballon D’Or hopes came when FIFA handed down the punishment. When she spoke to the Canadian soccer media after being given the four-game ban, Sinclair refused to utter one key word.

“Sorry.”

This is what she did say: “I don’t regret what I said. It was a very intense time, I was very emotional, I wouldn’t want to change it.”

The Ballon D’Or reflects the FIFA voters. That is, it reflects the FIFA establishment. National-team captains and handpicked members of the media are going to look at the four-game ban and vote to keep Sinclair out. Once you are in the FIFA circle, it’s rare to go outside the norm.

As well, there are plenty of voters who focus on the men’s game in Europe and don’t see much else. How many of the captains or media watched the women’s Olympic tournament. So, they’ll see the list, vote for usual suspects and the first thing they’ll remember about Sinclair is “oh, yeah, didn’t FIFA suspend her?”

By refusing to beg for forgiveness, by sticking to her guns, Sinclair has made herself an outsider. Even though Sinclair put together a remarkable season, even though her coach has been internationally hailed for the work he’s done, their punishments continue.

Sinclair got more than a four-game ban. It’s clear that her punishment also included an exclusion from the Ballon D’Or.

 

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