After a stuttering tournament, the Matildas bowed out of Olympic contention to the home side Brazil in a penalty shootout today.
The Matildas had their chances, hitting the bar in the 90th minute, and even in the penalty shootout could’ve gone through on the fifth kick. Ultimately, their campaign never got off the ground, starting with an upset defeat to Canada, and then a draw from 2-0 ahead to Germany.
However, it is the actions of the Brazilian goalkeeper Babara in the 7-6 shootout win for Brazil that is sure to capture attention. The goalkeeper, the least busy of the two on the night, appeared to take three or four steps forward with each kick, an obvious infringement. For one penalty, Babara was at least four metres of her line.
Despite this being clearly visible on a TV camera more than 50 metres away, the referees failed to pick up the violation. This is in spite of watching the ‘keeper’s movements being literally the only job referees have in the shootout, once a player’s run up is complete.
With Brazil being the home side, and the stadium selling out for one of the only times in the tournament, it raises questions about undue influence on the result. Could the Matildas have been part of a game that may not have been played fairly?
While there’s little hard evidence to suggest this, it is difficult to fathom how the referees both missed such a clear and constant penalty violation from Babara.
Whatever the result of this, neither referee should be officiating in the tournament again.