Abby Wambach apologizes for criticizing referee

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OTTAWA – Abby Wambach apologized on Tuesday for comments she made about referee Stephanie Frappart following the United States’ 2-0 victory over Colombia on Monday in the Round of 16 at the Women’s World Cup.

Wambach said on Monday that Frappart purposefully showed yellow cards to U.S. midfielders Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday in the first half of the match. Both players are suspended for Friday’s quarterfinal against China due to those cautions. Did either of the players deserve yellow cards?

“It’s definitely a great question,” Wambach said, when asked. “I don’t know if they were yellows. Who knows? It seemed like she was purposefully giving those yellows to the players she knew were sitting on yellows. I don’t know if it was just a psychological thing. Who knows?”

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FIFA World Cup rules stipulate that two yellow cards for one player in tournament play equate to a suspension. The accumulation of the yellow cards resets after the quarterfinal stage.

On Tuesday, Wambach scaled back her comments in an interview with Fox:

“I’m not in the referee’s head, and that’s something that I definitely take ownership of and apologize for, because I don’t know what the referee is thinking. She is doing the very best job she can.”

Wambach’s criticism came a little over a week after she said artificial turf had prevented her and her teammates from scoring more goals.

Holiday said after the match that “whether I think it’s a yellow card or not doesn’t matter at this point.” Rapinoe said she did not feel there was any foul play in the issuing of the yellow cards.

“I don’t think so, I just think she called a lot of fouls tonight,” she said. Rapinoe jokingly summarized the flow of the game with six words: “Stop, go. Stop, go. Stop, go.”

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Some have referenced Canada striker Christine Sinclair’s four-match ban in 2012 in discussing Wambach’s comments, but the situations are not alike. Sinclair criticized referee Christiana Pederson after Canada’s controversial 4-3 Olympic semifinal loss to the United States, telling media “the ref decided the result before it started.”

But FIFA suspended Sinclair for actions toward Pedersen, not for comments made to media following the match.

The U.S. plays China on Friday in Ottawa in the quarterfinals. The Americans never missed the semifinals in six previous World Cups.