The level of play in the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup has been absolutely outstanding, but unfortunately, the actual play on the field will not be what stands out from today's match between Australia and Equatorial Guinea. Instead, referee Gyoengyi Gaal is the story, as she has put together a performance that will be remembered for all of the wrong reasons. As the American telecast of the game went to halftime, presenter Bob Ley described her missed call of a handball as "a stunning moment of global incompetence." The actual score of the game at halftime is 1-1.
Though the referee has failed to take control of the match for the entire match, letting a great deal of unfair play go without punishment, the game started innocently enough with a well-deserved Australian goal by Leena Khamis, who finished after a sequence of a couple of shots inside of the box for Australia. They looked as if they were going to add to their lead for a bit, but then the game turned on its head.
Not too long after that goal, Collette McCallum hit the post for Australia. There was no whistle from the referee and no flag from the linesperson, but despite that, Equatorial Guinea defender Bruna picked up the ball with her hands and held it for around three seconds before dropping it. It appeared that the referee saw her do this, but decided not to give a penalty kick and a booking in an absolutely jaw-dropping display of incompetence.
Less than ten minutes later, Añonma equalized for Equatorial Guinea. It's hard to argue that she didn't deserve a goal, but had the referee made the correct decision minutes earlier, the game probably would have been much different. Now, if Australia fail to win, they will have a serious gripe with the official.