Panama asks CONCACAF to remove referees committee
The Panama Football Federation on Thursday called for the removal of CONCACAF's entire referees committee following controversial calls during Panama's 2-1 Gold Cup semifinal loss to Mexico.
"Considering the insulting and shameful officiating during the Gold Cup, specifically against Panama to favor Mexico in a vulgar and blatant way, we are demanding the removal of the entire CONCACAF referee committee," read a statement posted on the Panama federation website.
Mexico were awarded a spot kick in the 88th minute in Atlanta after Panama defender Roman Torres -- who had opened the scoring earlier in the second half -- was judged to have handled the ball in the area.
Panama, already reduced to 10 men for much of the match, protested vehemently against the decision to the officials and fans threw debris onto the field to halt play for about 10 minutes.
Television replays showed the decision was controversial. Torres did his best to avoid touching the ball with his hand, and the Mexico players did not appeal with much conviction. Panama had been reduced to 10 men in the 25th minute after Luis Tejada jumped to attempt a header and hit Francisco Rodriguez with his arm and hand, knocking the defender to the ground. Tejada protested and had to be restrained by his teammates when the red card was shown.
"What happened on Wednesday in the semifinal vs. Mexico, was the straw that broke the camel's back in a situation that has been repeated since the first match our team has played in the group phase," the statement read.
Former Panama player and coach Julio Cesar Dely Valdes hinted at foul play, but was not specific.
"Everything is designed so that Mexico and the United States get to the final," Dely Valdes told ESPN Deportes. "This was not human error, there is a lot of contamination and a cleansing is needed.
"A lot of things come to mind. I was calm because we were going to have an American referee and normally they are very proper...After the match, well, everything is tainted. Whom do I blame? The referee? CONCACAF? Who? It's a complex subject. I don't understand what happened yesterday."
Dely Valdes called for an in-depth investigation into CONCACAF, which he said was corrupt. Panama had legitimate cause for complaint that the same punishment wasn't dished out to Carlos Vela in the fourth. The Real Sociedad striker -- who will miss the final after being booked for the incident -- was immature in clearly throwing an elbow into Anibal Godoy's chest while awaiting a corner.
"This was not a human error, please brother, so many things happened, details, key moments in officiating criteria that weren't equal. Tejada's red card could have been a red, worse things have been argued, but then what about [Carlos] Vela, the elbow to [Anibal] Godoy who didn't have the ball, that would have been red because it was an aggressive move and the ball would have been for Panama."
Immediately following the loss on Wednesday, Panama coach Hernan "Bolillo" Gomez questioned whether he would continue in the game.
"It almost makes you think about retiring from football," Gomez said. "In one moment of the game I thought about it.
"If it was up to me, I could say 'I do not want to continue in football anymore.' It is a stain on football, it's horrible, a robbery. I clean [the names of] Mexico's players, it was nothing to do with them. They deserve to be champions."