John Herdman Medal Controversy Continues

February 23, 2016

The rivalry between the United States women’s national team and Canada over the past few years has not been a friendly one. Following their dramatic match at the 2012 Olympics, a series of comments from Canadian broadcasters, fans and the players themselves has only served to further inflame tensions (if you’re unfamiliar with the particulars of these insults, read this and this).

On Sunday night, the two sides added another chapter to their recent duels as the U.S. bested their northern neighbors 2-0 in the final of the CONCACAF Olympic tournament. Bitterly contested, the Canadians used the match to take cheap shots on Americans Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd, Lindsey Horan and Julie Johnston.

After the game, the controversy continued when Canadian head coach John Herdman threw his runners-up medal into the crowd.

Herdman later explained he had done this before, and threw the medal into the crowd in the hopes of inspiring someone.

But the fans who were directly involved saw the situation differently.

As with most things in life, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. There’s no doubt that Herdman was frustrated after losing – once again – to the Americans. In fact, the Canadians haven’t bested the U.S. since 2001. Perhaps he did throw the medal hoping to give it to a fan, but it wouldn’t be shocking if he put some extra mustard on his throw, especially considering it was only moments after another tough loss.

On the other hand, there’s not much of an excuse for the way the Canadians have played, or acted, in recent matches with the U.S. Melissa Tancredi’s head stomp on Lloyd in 2012 was a vicious assault, and one she later laughed about. Tancredi was also at the heart of two cheap shots in Sunday’s match (see video above). Worse, all four of the “tackles” in that video came from behind, exposing the U.S. players to serious injury.

In my experience, teams that play dirty are either explicitly, or implicitly, encouraged to do so – especially if such actions are not condemned by their coach. That may not be the case with Herdman, but this latest game – and his actions after it – certainly won’t endear him to U.S. fans in the future.

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