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June 20, 2010

Report: Referee rated poorly in review

ESPN.com news services

IRENE, South Africa -- FIFA will not address the performance of referee Koman Coulibaly, the embattled official from the Americans' 2-2 draw with Slovenia, before Monday, a spokesman said Saturday.

And even then, questions during a media session with World Cup referees will likely be met with refusal to answer questions about Coulibaly's controversial call.

Coulibaly was given a poor rating in an expedited performance review Saturday, according to a Yahoo! Sports report, which cited an unnamed FIFA source.

FIFA said the governing body would not comment on officiating before a scheduled session, when as many as 30 World Cup officials and members of the FIFA Referees Committee will meet with the media. Not all referees will be present, as there will be some in transit for the matches they are scheduled to officiate or some who simply would be unavailable.

And FIFA said Sunday morning those in attendance will not discuss specific decisions "whether in relation to their own performance or that of a colleague."

Coulibaly, of Mali, has been criticized for disallowing what could have been the winning goal for the U.S. off a free kick in Friday's match.

Second-half sub Maurice Edu appeared to put the U.S. ahead in the 86th minute, poking in a close-range shot after Landon Donovan's free kick to him. But the goal was waved off by Coulibaly, though it was not clear on whom the foul was called or what the foul was.

FIFA refereeing rules state: "The referee shall hand over to the FIFA general coordinator a match report at the stadium immediately after the match. On the report form the referee shall note all occurrences such as misconduct of players leading to caution or expulsion, unsporting behavior by supporters and/or by officials or any other person acting on behalf of an association at the match and any other incident happening before, during and after the match in as much detail as possible."

Coulibaly could still appear as a line judge or other supporting role, but is unlikely to be given assignments to referee further matches, according to a Friday report from Yahoo! Sports, which cited unnamed sources.

"If he is found to have made a serious mistake, especially one that affected the outcome, then he would be highly unlikely to play any further part in the tournament," Yahoo! Sports quoted a source Friday as saying. "FIFA is determined to keep refereeing standards high and does not want high-profile mistakes."

For its part, the U.S. is moving on, with no way to appeal the disallowed goal.

"There is no process for appeals for a decision on the field," team spokesman Michael Kammarman said Saturday. "We have not asked for any official comment from FIFA in regards to the call."

Replays show that more Slovenes were holding Americans than vice versa. Aleksandar Radosavljevic held Michael Bradley in a bear hug,

Bradley had his own theory: Coulibaly might have regretted his decision to award the free kick. Valter Birsa had been called for a foul on Steve Cherundolo.

"I think it's a good goal, first. I think the only things really that could be called would be penalty kicks for us," coach Bob Bradley said. "There are times when a referee, for whatever reason, blows a foul and now thinks either he didn't make the correct call on the foul or from a previous play, and then literally as soon as the free kick's taken, he blows his whistle, OK?

"So you can speculate all you want about which guy and everything, I think it's a waste of time. All right? I think there was nothing there. I think it's a good goal. And that's that."

The U.S. team has been besieged with questions why soccer referees don't publicly explain controversial decisions, as umpires and referees do in U.S. sports.

"We're all accustomed to the fact that if it's an NFL playoff game and there's a call that's in question, there will be a statement by the league from the referees, but FIFA operates differently," Bradley said. "There are some aspects of it that are not made 100 percent clear. That seems to add to the discussion about the game. So from our end we get used to that. And we all have friends and family who ask us the same questions that most of you ask, and you end up saying that's just how it is sometimes, and then you move on and you get ready for the next game."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.