Chile calls for referee from Canada game to be suspended in formal complaint about Copa America officiating

The Chilean Football Federation (FFC) has filed a formal complaint with CONMEBOL over the refereeing performance during their Copa America game against Canada.

In the complaint, the federation described its “deepest annoyance and dismay” over refereeing decisions in their scoreless draw against Canada at Orlando’s Inter & Co Stadium on Saturday evening, and raised issue with all three of Chile’s Copa America games. Saturday’s result saw them exit Copa America at the group stage.

Chile has called for Wilmar Roldan, the referee for the Canada game, to be suspended in a letter sent by FFC secretary general Jorge Yunge Williams. The letter also lists several examples of what they alleged to be “questionable decisions” by the referees in their games in the tournament, including against Peru and Argentina.

The decisions in those two matches — which they drew 0-0 and lost 1-0 respectively — “directly harmed the participation of our team for its continuity in said championship,” the FFC writes.


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Chile specify an incident during their game against Peru when the main referee, Wilton Sampaio, was “extremely permissive” with the rival team and, they claim, allowed a series of fouls to go uncalled. Against Argentina, Chile claims one of Argentina’s goals occurred when a player involved in the play was offside. They balked at a penalty that they believe went uncalled in that game by that referee, Andres Matonte.

Chile’s main complaint was directed at a perceived “lack of impartiality” shown by Roldan, both in previous games and against Canada on Saturday. The letter goes on to reference previous Chile matches that Roldan has taken charge of and the “absolute lack of impartiality” the Colombian has allegedly demonstrated. Chile claim the fact they have only won one of nine matches that Roldan has officiated as supposed evidence of this.

Chile also say they requested Roldan to be suspended following a Copa America 2021 game against Paraguay — in which they claim they were denied a clear penalty during a 2-0 defeat — which was later denied.

Gabriel Suazo's red card against Canada was at the centre of Chile's complaint (Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Gabriel Suazo’s red card against Canada was at the centre of Chile’s complaint (Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

The FFC has now asked that Roldan “be sanctioned with indefinite and definitive suspension, and/or, failing that, with the maximum sanction applicable”. It also requested copies of all the VAR audio for the entire match against Canada. Some of that audio has since been released by Chilean media overnight, raising even more questions about the refereeing decisions.

Pablo Milad, the FFC president, addressed a group of reporters following the scoreless draw against Canada, which resulted in the South American nation exiting Copa America at the group stage for the first time in decades.



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He had particular issue with the second yellow issued to Gabriel Suazo in the 27th minute, resulting in Chile playing with a 10-man squad for most of the game.

“I don’t want to speak about transparency and CONMEBOL,” Milad said. “I have a good relationship (with the organisation) and I have a lot of evidence that there is a lot more transparency compared to before. Today, there is absolute transparency over money and all that.

“We only have to improve situations like this (the refereeing). You’re leaving (the tournament) with this taste in your mouth knowing that you were prejudiced against. If they hadn’t, we would have qualified. There shouldn’t be any question.

“It should be clear and not having to look at the refereeing staff and whether they made the right call or not, or having to check VAR if it was the right call. That’s what hurts so much.”

Jorge Yunge’s letter points to Roldan’s failure to send off Canada’s Moise Bombito early in Saturday’s game and the second yellow card shown to Suazo as key errors. The formal complaint filed by Chile relates to Roldan and his officiating team.

“Chile was arbitrarily eliminated from the 2024 Copa America,” the letter concludes.

CONMEBOL did not have a comment when approached by The Athletic. The Copa America organisers did later release some of the VAR audio from the Canada game, in which they admitted that it had been an officiating error to not send off Bombito early in the match.



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(Top photo: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

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