It’s been a rough start for Major League Soccer‘s Marco Schällibaum and The Montreal Impact after his team’s questionable loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps at Saputo stadium. Indeed the loss impacted Schällibaum as it is merely one of many upsets this season, his first season with the team at that.
It was obvious that the team had some issues in the first half of play but what really sent Schällibaum over the edge was referee Jorge Gonzalez overturning a penalty kick. It was a crucial call against Schällibaum and The Impact in the 38th minute as it arguably may have been the nail in the coffin. The call overturned, a handball by Vancouver defender Jun Marques Davidson, shocked Marco as it sent The Impact home with their second consecutive loss at home. This isn’t the scary maze game where you can just inject a call like that and not have it effect the outcome of the game.
“To me, it’s a scandal,” Schällibaum told reporters in French. “It’s a scandal, because he makes a decision and then, all of a sudden, it isn’t a penalty. It changed the game.”
Schällibaum acknowledged the mistakes made by the team under his management, particularly a handball in the penalty box by defender Hassoun Camara that got The Impact off to a 1-0 start. Although Schällibaum was aware of the mistakes made on his behalf, it was what he believed to be the referee’s biggest mistake that caused the 3-0 loss as the team clings to playoff hopes.
“For us, psychologically, the decision was nonsense,” Schällibaum said of the play, which was not replayed on the scoreboard at Stade Saputo. “As a referee, you have to make decisions. You make a decision, and then it’s gone.
“There was influence from players, coaches and the fourth official,” he added. “If he allows himself to be influenced, then maybe I should do the same next time around.”
Sharing Schällibaum’s outrage, Impact president Joey Saputo took to Twitter to ask: “Penalty Kick or not, how does the furthest official on the field, overturn a referee’s call?”
The officials spoke out against the controversy defending the decision as it was a collective choice based on the ball striking Davidson’s “chest/shoulder area of the body with no intent to play the ball with his hand.”
“Mr. Gonzalez decided, based on input from the entire referee crew, that there was not an intentional handling of the ball on this play,” the officials wrote in reply to the Impact’s referee pool reporter, represented on Saturday by MLSsoccer.com. “The ball deflected off a Vancouver player and a corner kick was awarded.”
Schällibaum seemed to feel bombarded with a number of decision against his team. That coupled with his belief that the Penalty kick could have been their opportunity to get back in the game was enough to further upset Schällibaum.
“[The fourth official] can’t influence a crucial decision like that,” Schällibaum said. “They go home, and we’ve got all that up our (expletive). The guys in yellow have to take their responsibilities. We take our responsibilities every day. We got slapped around today because of that, and because we weren’t so good in the first half.”