FIH issues apology after controversial penalty shootout costs India women's hockey team in semi-final vs Australia
- FIH apologised for the miscommunication and assured that the incident will be reviewed after India lost the women's hockey semi-final to Australia on a controversial penalty shootout.
International Hockey Federation (FIH) issued a statement after the India vs Australia women's hockey semi-final match at the Commonwealth Games 2022 was rocked by controversy during the penalty shootout. FIH apologised for the miscommunication and assured that the incident will be reviewed. "The penalty shootout started mistakenly too early (the clock was not yet ready to operate), for which we apologise. This incident will be thoroughly reviewed by the FIH in order to avoid any similar issues in the future," the statement said.
It all transpired when the penalty shootout had just begun after it finished 1-1 in scheduled time. Australia's Ambrosia Malone's first attempt was successfully saved by India goalkeeper Savita Punia but just when India's first attempt was about to be taken by Lalremsiami, the referee told her to stop and said "the clock had not started" and signalled a retake for Australia. In the retake, Malone made no mistake and neither did Australia's next two shooters in their attempts. India, on the other hand, failed to convert any of their first three strokes and lost the semi-final 0-3 in shootout.
The confusion took place because of a miscommunication between the referee and two other match officials. According to the rules, a match official on the sidelines raises his/her hand and then drops it to signal the beginning of the stopwatch. But in Malone's case the official hadn't brought her hand down and the referee had already signalled the Australian to take her attempt. The stopwatch didn't start, meaning the stroke could not have been counted. In multiple videos of the incident that has now gone viral, the official can even be heard yelling "stop, no no no" before Malone started but thanks to a total communication breakdown the attempt went ahead.
The stroke had to be retaken as the official stopwatch didn't start in the first place and India paid the price.
Members of the India women's hockey team said the first attempt hampered their momentum. "We're not using it as an excuse, but we are human," Savita said after the match.
"I'm not using it as an excuse, but you know, your goalkeeper makes a save, that's an enormous boost for the team and you turn the decision around... the team was really upset about it. I'm sure their focus was lost a little bit after that, and that's not an excuse, just a simple fact," said India's coach Jannekke Schopmann.
The criticsim was not restricted to the hockey sphere alone. Former India cricketer Virender Sehwag also tweeted against the ‘biased’ decision.