Christine Sinclair says it's time to move on. The captain of Canada's Women's National team accepts her punishment from FIFA and intends to focus on what she describes as "the biggest three years in the history of the Canadian Women's program."
Sinclair is of course referring to the build-up to Canada hosting the Women's World Cup in 2015, but the triumph over adversity achieved by the Women's team at the Olympics this past summer is still fresh in everyone's minds.
Those memories were brought to the forefront again late last week when FIFA decided to fine Sinclair and suspend her for four matches for what they described as “unsporting behaviour towards match officials,” after the heartbreaking last-minute loss against the United States at Old Trafford.
Much was said by Canada's players in the aftermath of a 4-3 defeat that was marred by the controversial decisions made by Norwegian referee Christina Pedersen, but the disciplinary action taken by FIFA was in relation to comments made by Sinclair to the officials and not what she said in the media.
Sinclair said on Monday that the U.S. game still stirs up so much emotion that she's been unable to watch it since, but she doesn't “ultimately believe the referee went into the match hoping the U.S. would win.”
“It was an emotional time and I would want to change what happened,” she said. “You don't really hear much about suspensions and fines in the women's game so heading into it I had no idea. I just want everyone to know how much I have appreciated their comments the past few days. Ultimately if it means me missing a couple of games at the start of 2013 it isn't the end of the world.”
Three of those matches will be at the Four Nations Tournament in China in January, and the fourth game will be served in the following friendly match, which would be at the Cyprus Cup in March, unless Canada adds another game in between those tournaments.
Sinclair is hoping the team can look for positives from the situation and could ultimately even benefit from her suspension. “It will be a great opportunity for my teammates,” she explained. “I know John (Herdman – Canada Head Coach) wants to try some younger players and there is no better chance than some international games against some of the best teams in the world.”
At first glance, a four match suspension for Sinclair seems harsh, especially compared to the two-match ban handed to Colombia's Lady Andrade for punching United States forward Abby Wambach. However, with FIFA taking so long to hand down their decision, the suspension for Sinclair will equate to a gentle slapping of the wrists.
The reason it took so long for the suspension to be handed down was because the incident happened outside the 120 minutes of action. The incident was documented in the referee's report, and when received by FIFA they then followed their procedure and invited a response from the Canadian Soccer Association. The slow-moving governing body took almost two months to announce a decision, but the alternative would have been a national out-cry had Sinclair been banned from playing in the bronze medal match.
The Canadian Soccer Association is standing by their captain and will pay her fine. President Victor Montagliani said “The Association supports Christine in this matter and appreciates the Canadian public's support of the world class player and ambassador for the game who has represented our country so proudly.”
They made us all proud, and that's one of the reasons that we're still talking about the match in October! Sinclair says she wants to move on, but that day at Old Trafford is one that will live long in the memories of Canadians for years to come. Sinclair is indeed a world class talent who produced a stunning individual performance in one of the most incredible battles I've ever seen on a soccer pitch.
The performance from the Canadian Women's National Team at the Olympics galvanized a nation and took the sport and its players to a whole new level. Bring on 2015, but before then, how about Christine Sinclair for 2012 FIFA Women's World Player of the Year?