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Lindford, "no comment"


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Canadians angry over bitter soccer setback

CSA boss Colin Lindford says he won't appeal Thursday loss to U.S.



Canada's Atiba Hutchinson argues Thursday's disallowed goal with referee Benito Archundia in Chicago.

(Jun 23, 2007)

Colin Linford bit his tongue. Yesterday, the Canadian Soccer Association president responded with just two words when was asked if an anti-Canadian conspiracy was at work after a botched offside call robbed Canada of a tying goal late in a CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal match loss on to the United States on Thursday.

"No comment," said Linford, who was reached as he waited for a flight out of the match site of Chicago.

But Linford, who was to return to his Kitchener home yesterday afternoon, admitted the 2-1 loss stung.

"I'm disappointed with the score -- yes," Linford said. "But what else can you say? The referee makes his decision and you have to live with it."

The controversy left the Canadian men's soccer team bitter and angry.

Former CSA chief operating officer Kevan Pipe -- who runs the Chicago venue for CONCACAF, the zone Canada competes in -- stepped in front of a Canadian official who was arguing with officials after the game's bizarre conclusion.

The CSA fired Pipe last year.

The play in question appeared to set the stage for a glorious Canadian comeback as Atiba Hutchinson snuck behind the American defence and kicked the ball home in the final seconds.

However, Hutchinson was flagged offside and Mexican referee Benito Archundia, who called two costly late fouls against Canada in a World Cup qualifier with Honduras in 2004, waved off the tying goal.

Replays showed the ball went off U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu, and that Canadian attackers appeared to be even with the last American defender, meaning the goal should have counted.

"I saw the linesman's flag go off before the ball went in the net," said Linford. "But then I had the opportunity to watch the instant replay because I was in the top of the stands and it became obvious to everyone who had originally thought it was offside that, in fact, it should not have been called back on an offside decision."

So the officials blew it.

Any chance of a protest before the sport's governing body of FIFA?

"No, no, no," Linford said.

"There's no need. There's no point. I wouldn't go that route."

How about lobbying FIFA president Seth Blatter for the introduction of video replays for such crucial moments in international games?

"He doesn't want any part of going to cameras or anything else," said Linford, recalling Blatter's comments at the last FIFA congress.

"He just thinks that the game is played by humans and refereed by humans. So it's a human decision. Whether one would agree with it is really irrelevant."

Would Linford, with the junior World Cup set to begin in Canada with the national under-20 team taking on Chile on July 1 in Toronto, be in favour of bringing in video review should similar controversies arise in the future?

"No, not for that kind of thing," he said. "It's just one of those things. And I tend to agree with (Blatter). That it's a human game and humans make decisions and humans make mistakes. Sometimes you get the breaks and sometimes you don't. This time, we didn't get any breaks at all."

Linford believes Canada had momentum and would have gone on to win the match in extra time on Thursday had Hutchinson's goal stood.

"We're never gonna know," he said.

Still, Linford takes some positives out of Canada's Gold Cup efforts.

"The big thing is, our team is getting better," he said. "We're not going to be the pushover in qualifying out of CONCACAF next year that some people would think. We were definitely the better team in CONCACAF games. We were entertaining. We scored goals. We had structure. We did everything we should do."

But a call went against them.


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