Case Study: Referee Pedersen And The Six Second Rule

Case Study # 2-2012
Date 6 August 2012
Competition 2012 Olympic Women’s Football Semi-Final
Fixture/Result CAN 3 – 4 USA
Referee/Badge Christiana Pedersen, FIFA
At Issue Pedersen’s decision to penalize the Canadian GK for violating the “six-second rule” causes a media furor

There has been much discussion in the media about the “mysterious” and “never-seen-before” six-second violation call made by Referee Christiana Pedersen in the CAN-USA Women’s Olympic semi-final football match.

The CAN goalkeeper acknowledged that one member of the referee crew spoke to her at halftime about keeping the game moving, but that she didn’t interpret it as an “official warning”.

In defense of Referee Pedersen, I believe the frame grabs included in this case study show that she did, in fact, issue “official” warnings to the CAN goalkeeper.

The first sequence does not provide irrefutable proof, but the circumstantial evidence is strong. USA forward Abby Wambach stated in an interview that the referee warned the CAN goalkeeper on several occasions and that the GK acknowledged the warning by raising her hand.

The first frame grab shows the CAN GK with her left arm raised. This frame doesn’t make much sense out of context, I admit. But when you see the 3-5 seconds immediately prior, the CAN GK is clearly gesturing to her players. There is a momentary pause, after which she raises her opposite hand (she had been gesturing to her teammates with her right).

The next frame grab is very blurry because the camera is moving from left to right with the punt (same sequence). The obvious question is: given the distance of clearances by the CAN GK up to that point, why is the referee so far out of position? This is a “mistake” that even a “parks” referee wouldn’t make, much less a FIFA Referee. One possible explanation is that she is running to catch up with play after having a word with the CAN GK.

If that doesn’t convince you – and I can see where it might not – I believe the next frame grab will. It occurs less than one minute after the previous sequence. I will allow my on-image annotations to speak for themselves.

I researched this not as a USA supporter, but as a referee who was dismayed by all of the criticism that was hurled at Referee Pedersen. I simply couldn’t believe that a FIFA Referee could be guilty of the kind of basic errors she was accused of.

I submit that these frame grabs show her doing her job and that she likely slept very well.


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