Celebrations for the Cowichan Craig Street 49ers’ Tony Grover Cup championship have been put on hold momentarily.
Following a protest by Gorge FC Backfit, the 49ers’ opponent in the March 25 final, the Vancouver Island Soccer League has given Gorge the opportunity to replay the last seven minutes of the match, which Cowichan won 4-1.
Gorge had been unhappy with the officiating for much of the match, but filed the official protest based on a specific play late in the game.
The Victoria team believed the referee made the wrong call in a ruling with seven minutes left to play. Gorge was in the process of taking a penalty kick — which turned out to be successful — when two things happened: the kicker was called for illegal feinting, and another offensive player entered the box before the play was over. Both are infractions of FIFA Law 14, which dictates how penalty kicks are carried out, but the way the ref handled the situation went against the rules.
The official told the teams at the time that he was penalizing the kicker for an illegal feint which the rules state results in a yellow card and a free kick for the defensive team. He entered in his game report, however, that the call was player infringement, which is supposed to result in a retake if the initial kick is successful.
The VISL determined on Monday that the last seven minutes can be replayed, if that is what Gorge wants. Gorge was trailing 4-1 at the time of the controversial penalty kick, and was playing down a man, so the team will still have a lot of work to do in order to unseat Cowichan.
The 49ers don’t dispute that the ruling on the field was mishandled, but manager Neall Rowlings doesn’t expect Gorge to take the opportunity to replay the seven minutes.
“I don’t think Gorge will want to when they’re down a man, down three goals, with seven minutes left,” he said.
If Gorge wants to replay the end of the match, it will probably happen in May.
“When we first talked to the league, they talked about doing if following provincials,” Rowlings noted.
Gorge can still appeal the VISL’s decision to BC Soccer, and then to FIFA if they are unhappy with that result, but Rowlings doesn’t think they will pursue that avenue.
“If they appeal, we would battle it,” he stated.
Gorge has 10 days to respond to the league’s decision, but the 49ers are hoping to have it sorted out by the VISL awards night this Friday.
Rowlings is optimistic that Gorge will leave things as they stood when the final whistle blew on March 25.
“To put your name on a trophy this way, I don’t even think they’d want to do that.”
The 49ers, Div. 1 Cowichan LMG and U21 Cowichan United have all qualified for their respective provincial tournaments and are awaiting the draws on April 9.