USWNT’s Abby Wambach warned, not suspended, for critical comments about referee


Despite making a number of critical and accusatory comments about a referee following the US women’s national team’s 2-0 victory over Colombia in the 2015 Women’s World Cup round of 16 on Monday, FIFA has issued only a warning to USWNT striker Abby Wambach.

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FIFA announced on Thursday that Wambach, the USWNT’s all-time leading goalscorer and scorer of one goal so far this tournament, will face no further punishment despite claiming the game’s referee, Stephanie Frappart, was “purposefully giving yellows to the players she knew were sitting on yellows.”

Indeed, USWNT starters Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe were both cautioned in the first half of the game against Colombia, and given that it was either player’s second yellow card of the tournament, will miss Friday’s quarterfinal matchup with China.

From FIFA’s statement:

“The chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee took into consideration all the circumstances of the case, including the fact that Abby Wambach took full ownership and apologized for her comments in a timely manner.”

It sounds as if Wambach is getting something of a free pass as arguably’s the tournament’s biggest star, which FIFA justifies by citing her quick about-face — something that was almost certainly, as is often the case, prompted by the team’s coaching staff and/or U.S. Soccer officials so as to avoid greater punishment.

[ RELATED: Wambach ready for a full 90 minutes, if needed, says coach Jill Ellis ]

One could argue that post-game comments should be treated more harshly than actions of a player during a game. After all, a player who loses his or her cool during the heat of a game doesn’t have the luxury of a five-, 10- or 15-minute cooling-down period before acting in an unbecoming manner.

Inversely, Wambach had not only the handful of minutes between the final whistle and when she made the comments, but a 15-minute halftime period in the locker room, as well as the entire second half of the game to rethink he stance and what she might say after the game. In a word, Wambach’s accusations were pre-meditated, and in the words of FIFA’s Disciplinary Code, that’s “violating the principles of fair play” and “unsporting behavior” if I’ve ever heard it.