FFA admit W-League referee blunder cost Canberra United against Sydney FC

It is "little consolation" for Canberra United, but Football Federation Australia referees boss Ben Wilson says referee Casey Reibelt got it wrong in allowing Sydney FC's deciding goal in the W-League semi-final to stand and she will not officiate this weekend's decider. 

Wilson said Reibelt "wasn't in the best position", while additional assistant referee Katie Patterson made a "judgment error" when they allowed Jasmyne Spencer's goal to stand at McKellar Park on Sunday.

Game-changer: Canberra United goalkeeper Lydia Williams is obstructed by Sydney FC striker Kyah Simon.
Game-changer: Canberra United goalkeeper Lydia Williams is obstructed by Sydney FC striker Kyah Simon. Photo: Supplied

Instead the referee should have awarded a free-kick to United because Sydney forward Kyah Simon had fouled Lydia Williams when the United goalkeeper attempted to catch a cross.

The ball spilled free and Spencer pounced to score the only goal of the semi, sending Sydney through to the W-League decider against Melbourne City.

Wilson said the officials would get coached to try and ensure the error did not happen again.

He said the FFA had brought in two additional assistant referees for the semis - on top of the usual three on-field officials - to specifically be "an extra pair of eyes for critical decisions in and around the penalty area", such as what happened at the weekend.


Wilson said the result would stand regardless of the error.

"In short the refereeing team made an error ... the referee probably wasn't in the best position to see the contact between the two players, so the coaching for her was she could've got into a better position," he told Fairfax Media on Wednesday.

"We have these additional assistant referees for the first time in the W-League semi-finals and there was one in a good position, but she just made a judgment error and didn't think the contact was sufficient for it to be a foul.

"So she advised the referee through the communication system that there was no foul and the referee took her advice.

"It's little consolation I'd imagine to be told the referee made a mistake."

The FFA announced on Wednesday Kate Jacewicz would take charge of the W-League grand final, with Reibelt not listed in her team of assistants.

"We couldn't really consider match officials that were involved in a match-changing error in a semi-final to show up in a grand final," Wilson said.

"That would probably be galling for Canberra United players to see that on TV.

"That's not the only thing that comes into consideration, but it's one of the considerations."

Canberra chief executive Heather Reid wrote to the FFA seeking clarification about the incident.

She said it was "no consolation" the FFA had confirmed what "99 per cent" of people who saw the incident thought.

Reid felt Reibelt possibly should not have been allowed to take charge of the game in the first place.

She said while United had chances to equalise, they had been forced to change their game plan as a result of going behind.

"That's the cruel nature of sport, whether it's soccer, basketball, league, it's unfortunate that it happened and I'm sure the FFA will be looking at their processes and procedures to make sure that these sort of things don't happen again," Reid said.

"The other thing is that perhaps we'd seen this particular referee too many times this season and a different referee might have been better for us because there were other incidents that we've had with her so there's a little bit of history."

Reid said United would also talk to Wilson about the treatment winger Ashleigh Sykes received during the game.