World

Russian Hockey Fans Aren't Pleased With American Ref

Team U.S.A. beat Russia's hockey team in a tense preliminary game — and some Russians blame a controversial ruling which disallowed a Russia goal.

Russian Hockey Fans Aren't Pleased With American Ref
The New York Times / Doug Mills
SMS

So, did you catch the big hockey game in Sochi on Saturday?

You know, the one where Team U.S.A. triumphed over longtime rivals Russia thanks to a stellar shootout performance in overtime by U.S. forward T.J. Oshie? (Via The New York Times)

Well, as you might imagine not everyone in Russia is happy with the way that game turned out. See, before Oshie's epic shootout Russian player Fedor Tyutin scored a late third period goal which would have given Russia the victory.

The problem is, the net was slightly knocked off its bearings moments before Tyutin's goal — which, as USA Today points out, means the goal didn't count even though play continued.

After some deliberation, the game's referees — including American Brad Meier — decided to nullify Tyutin's goal. Play resumed with both teams tied at 2, the match went into overtime, and, well, you know the rest.

But the disallowed goal still rankled in the hearts of Russian hockey fans, and The Wall Street Journal notes that like many upset sports fans, Russia is taking its frustrations out on the referees.

Russian politician Alexei Pushkov tweeted his disgust at the Meier's verdict Saturday, writing in Russian, "What an abomination! Cheating in front of the whole world!! Disgusting!" (Via Twitter / @Alexey_Pushkov)

And throughout Twitter, Meier quickly became the butt of Russian scorn and loathing, leading International Business Times to dub Meier "the Most Hated Man in Russia."

Meier isn't the only one catching flak for the controversial call. Slava Voynov, a Russian defender who plays on the same NHL team as U.S.A. goalie Jonathan Quick, turned on his NHL teammate after Saturday's game and suggested Quick might have nudged the net on purpose.

Telling Yahoo"I can tell you myself, because I am his teammate and I play with him. It is in his style to do something like that. ... The question is why wasn’t it noticed? That’s the question to the referees."

But Russian hockey officials have been more accepting of the ruling. The head of the Russian Hockey Federation told RT"We contacted the Sochi refereeing supervisors following the game, and took the moment apart frame by frame. The decision cannot be questioned. ... However much we wish it was otherwise."

And the International Ice Hockey Federation came to Meier's defense in a statement Sunday, clarifying the exact ruling which canceled the goal.

So, it looks like the match results will stand for now. And at least one American writer couldn't resist taking a vengeful swipe at Russia in the aftermath.

"Hey, Russia, remember the final play of the 1972 gold medal basketball game the referees let you keep doing over until Alexander Belov finally scored the winning shot? Well, karma never forgets. And it bites. Hard." (Via The Denver Post)

Although the loss might be dispiriting for the Russian team, they're not out of the medal race yet. Saturday's game was just a qualifier for the Olympic quarterfinals, which begin Wednesday.