Abby Wambach apologizes for referee criticism, will likely avoid suspension

Abby Wambach apologizes for referee criticism, will likely avoid suspension

OTTAWA – United States forward Abby Wambach issued a heartfelt apology on Tuesday night for the controversial comments she made regarding a French referee following Monday’s victory over Colombia in the Women’s World Cup.

Wambach initially reacted strongly to the yellow cards given by referee Stephanie Frappart – which will result in American midfielders Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday each serving a one-game ban.

The 35-year-old claimed it seemed like Frappart had “purposefully” given cards to the players, Rapinoe and Holiday, who had already received a yellow in the tournament, thereby causing them to be banned.

But she stepped back from her remarks on Tuesday.

“I’m not in the referee’s head, and that’s something I definitely take ownership of and apologize for, because I don’t know what the referee is thinking,” Wambach told FOX. “In no way did I intend to offend her – and my biggest apologies if it was offensive in any way.”

Rapinoe and Holiday had each received a yellow card earlier in the tournament and the second caution means the pair will sit out against China in Friday’s quarterfinal.

The post-game comments led to suggestions that Wambach herself could face a ban ahead of the China game, due to FIFA’s policy of taking a harsh approach towards players who criticize referees.

“It seemed like she was purposefully giving those yellows to the players she knew were sitting on yellows,” Wambach said in the media interview area after the match. “I don’t know if it was just a psychological thing. Who knows?”

Ingrid Jonsson, of FIFA’s referees committee, told USA TODAY Sports that Wambach’s comments would potentially be “a question for the disciplinary committee.” FIFA’s media office said the matter was being checked internally.

However, given that there is a limited amount of time in which FIFA could gather information ahead of Friday’s match, there is little chance Wambach would be ruled out.

It is possible that a further investigation takes place after the tournament that may lead to a punishment, although her apology would likely weigh in her favor.

Wambach has started all three of the Americans’ victories in the tournament and came off the bench for its 0-0 draw with Sweden during group play.

At 35, she is playing in her last World Cup and missed the chance to pull level with Brazil’s Marta on the all-time tournament top scorers list when she sliced a penalty kick wide against Colombia.

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