Koman Coulibaly Disallows USA World Cup Goal: Video

US soccer fans and players must feel pretty cheated today after referee Koman Coulibaly disallowed a perfectly fine goal by US player Maurice Edu.

Watch the video evidence above. So far, all of the analysis of the USA against Slovenia games shows that referee Koman Coulibaly made the wrong decision. That includes Match Of The Day who felt that the US were cheated.

What’s your opinion regarding the controversial call? Share your feedback in the comments section below.

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About Christopher Harris

Publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris founded the site in 2005. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who was born and raised in Wales, has lived in Florida since 1984, and supported Swansea City since 1979. Last but not least, he got engaged during half-time of a MLS game.
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31 Responses to Koman Coulibaly Disallows USA World Cup Goal: Video

  1. Steve says:

    As I understand “offsides”, at the moment Donavan strikes the ball #9 of the US has moved into an offsides position….I’m a USA fan but, sorry, the linesman made the right call.

    • jk says:

      Steve watch the wide angle. The linesman does not make a call. Come on Steve don’t make yourself look silly.

  2. Texas Soccer Pants says:

    The ref never told the US players what the call was. Did the lineman ever raise his flag? I don’t think he did, it was Koman who made the call.

  3. Robert says:

    Watch the video! this ref has to be investigated! If it was an outright foul or offside he wouldn’t of hesitated to point a foul. the ref hesitated to see if they would score than point the foul. WATCH THE VIDEO! something was in the fix.

  4. doug says:

    Um, #9 of the US didn’t touch the ball or make a play on it. Secondly I think he was partially even…

    The interesting thing is now that the US doesn’t even necessarily need to win to go thru. If we tie and England loses, we go thru. If we tie and England ties, we’ll likely go thru on goals unless they tie 2-2 and we tie 0-0, or they tie 3-3 and we tie 1-1, in which case we draw lots and is an unlikely scenario…

    So, now the only way we’re out is if we lose and England wins. England will “probably” win, but I think that’s far from certain. But it’s also not certain we’ll win…

    I’d argue the England result was not good for the US tho’, b/c I suspect Algeria would be easier to beat if it were already eliminated… Now they have the prospect of beating the US and going thru, which means they’ll be tough to beat.

  5. Jack in TX says:

    What is troubling is the lack of a statement from the ref or FIFA that identifies the infraction called. It is possible that from the referee’s angle he saw what he thought was a foul. But there is no such explanation.

    This match was the victim of political correctness. FIFA insists on naming referee representatives from certain geographic areas, regardless of their qualifications. What league in Mali would have prepared this ref for the pressure of a WC match?!? I know he called the final of the African Cup. But being the best ref in Africa is like finishing last in an ugly contest. It reminds me of how Spain lost in the 2002 quarterfinals to South Korea due to dubious officiating by the referee from Trinidad.

    • jk says:

      Really good points. The Mali national league is not world cup finals. If the African Nations Cup is barely a big time tournament. It’s right up there with the Gold Cup.

  6. suckerpunch says:

    The call was NOT for offside, it was for a foul committed.

    From Goff’s blog:
    Maurice Edu committed no foul as he scored from just over six yards.

    However, just about every other player in the penalty area was holding, grabbing, pulling or pushing as the U.S. free kick sailed in to the 18-yard zone.

    Referee Koman Coulibaly of Mali saw one of several fouls. Unluckily for the U.S., he saw the only one committed by an American, defender Carlos Bocanegra.

    Bocanegra had his arms around Slovenia substitute Jejc Pecnik and was preventing him from jumping for the ball.

    Coulibaly was ideally placed to see the foul he called. He was 10 yards away from Edu as the striker hit the ball home, but the Bocanegra-Pecnik grappling took place just one yard away, in the referee’s direct line of sight.

    • suckerpunch says:

      And to follow up on my posting from Goff’s blog, looking at the replay several times, unless it happened very early, Bocanegra was being held just as much if not more than he was holding Pecnik.

  7. doug says:

    i agree it was a bad call, but hopefully the US National team just gets over it. We didn’t deserve the free kick in the first place, and the last thing anyone likes is whining about the officiating. Plus, Robert Green of England gave us a gift, and so overall, we stand even with the soccer gods.

  8. james says:

    It was a horrible decision:

    1. Bradley was not offsides. Even if he was marginally in front of a defender who had both arms around him, he was being fouled during his entire run, which should result in a PK, not an offside call.

    2. Edu, who some match reports have said was called for the foul was near nobody.

    3. It is unclear whether or not the linesman flagged the foul or the main ref.

    4. Bocanegra was getting fouled as he was jostling. The play itself was clean and the free kick wasn’t taken from a spot that suggested the ref knew exactly who he had just called for.

    5. Robert Green’s flub has nothing to do with this. We scored a goal against a goalkeeper who made an error. This was poor refereeing. The foul leading up to the kick was a soft foul, but it was well won by Altidore, who got himself into a position where the defender had to put a body on him and went down as a result. Furthermore, it is not legal under FIFA rules for a ref to make a “make up” call.

    6. This ref is renowned in Northern Africa for being horrible.

  9. eplnfl says:


    Has any explanation been given for the call from FIFA?

    I believe earlier in the game Findley was given a yellow card for a hand ball that struck him on his foot. Anyone else see that one?

  10. Doug says:

    Interestingly, we really want to win our group, which we might well do if we beat Algeria. Why? B/c then we’ll likely face Serbia/Ghana in the 2nd round, in which case we’d face the winner of Uruguay-Mexico vs. South Korea in the quarterfinals, which don’t exactly sound like unwinnable matches by any means. Then we’d only need lightning to strike twice thereafter to win the cup…

    If we finish 2nd in our group, however, we’ll likely have Germany followed by Argentina, which just sounds bleak… No way to get lucky four times in a row w/ the defense we’ve got.

  11. doug says:

    I think Findley was given a yellow card for letting a corner kick hit him smack in the face.

  12. UpTheBlues says:

    Did anyone see the missed call on Dempsey that could easily have been a straight red card? Look, the ref missed calls on both sides. It’s over now, nothing you can do about it. FIFA won’t change the final score.

  13. doug says:

    dempsey was manhandled several times right in the box on free kicks. The Slovenians realized the referee was slow, and took advantage of the situation. They got dirtier with each successive free kick, focusing on Dempsey b/c they knew he’s the most dangerous. On one, the Slovenian acted like Dempsey had fouled and injured him…

  14. Pete says:

    Your Answer:
    I was just now getting into World Cup Soccer. This horrendous unacceptable call has now deflated my interest in watching another game. Back to American Football now for me. You had your chance FIFA, and you screwed it up big time. This wasn’t even close to being a good call. If any call was made, it should have been against Slovenia for holding the USA player. I do not know what the call actually was, but I do know that they robbed the USA of a goal. What’s the mystery of the call anyways? Why don’t they indicate the call? Every other sport I can imagine will announce the call. Why not in this FIFA match? Maybe now the world can understand why most Americans don’t really embrace this sport. Here’s another reason. This is probably the biggest farce of all regarding this league. They don’t tell you the reason the whistle was blown? That is completely unacceptable for me as a fan to take this sport seriously. I’d love to see instant replay on goals, but at the very least, tell us the reason you blew the damn whistle. What a coward rule. Farewell FIFA. I am turning the channel.

  15. Riosoccer says:

    At around 22 seconds in the video above, you see Dempsey give a HUGE shove to his mark to get free and seems the ref is staring straight at him. Seems strange that he’d watch Dempsey so closely and maybe call the foul on him after Dempsey was fouled sooo often in the game during dead ball situations.

    Don’t know if that was the call, but would certainly like FIFA to give the reason. Unless there’s a reason for the call, there will be conspiracy theories.
    Lastly, does anyone care that Pete likes soccer. God I hate when “football” fans rag on soccer for so meaningless a reason. Gee Pete, do you hate baseball too after the ref took away that pitcher’s no-hitter? What a moron!

  16. john says:

    While Pete may have an over valued self worth, as if the millions of “football” fans around the world care if US citizens get into watching “football”, I do understand what he is saying. I made a decision to watch the world cup, I wanted to see what it was all about. As a sports fan I hate the feeling, I or my team is getting screwed and all I can do is sit and take it. That call was bad on an epic level. I have seen the play from 4 different views, there is only one view were you can even imagine a US player is doing something wrong, and you have to be bias to look at the play and think only the US player is holding.

    I know it is harder to make the call correctly at game speed, but “football” is starting to remind me of Baseball, the refusal to adapt the game to modern technology because it might hurt the “tradition” of the game. The wold cup should have replay, and the calls should be known.

    Well that’s it I have got it off my chest. Now lets beat Algeria.
    flame on!

  17. doug says:

    Oh, please. Has anyone watched an NBA game recently? The officials determine nearly every game, whether they want to or not. The Lakers and Celtics played physically enough that the refs could call a foul or not on every play. The only rule is that the stars can do whatever they want. It’s like that old Jordan highlight, where he caught the ball at half court, ran in and dunked it without dribbling, and since he’s michael jordan he didn’t get called for it.

    Today’s game was a disgrace, however…

  18. Adam Edg says:

    Watching that call from every angle shows that Slovenia was mobbing us about a bajillion times more than we could have been mobbing them. Bocanegra is in a headlock, Bradley’s in a bear hug, Altidore is fairly close to a bear hug, DeMerit is held with two arms, and Edu barely got free of the shirt pull before scoring! All of that was squarely in front of Koman as evidenced by the last angle. I don’t even see evidence of any US player committing a foul, or even holding excessively; most are trying to break free of bear hugs. The only thing that even looks close to foul is Edu breaking free of his man’s shirt pull – it almost, if you squint really hard and are desperately looking for a reason to call off a goal, looks like a push off… That is if you are too busy ignoring all of the uber blatant fouls committed by the defending team, including the foul that led to Edu fighting to break free…

  19. allan says:

    i thought the ref blew the whistle for a foul but Donovan insisted on kicking the ball so the ref took away their kick. at least that’s how i saw it.

    • Sean says:


      The ref blew the whistle a fraction of a second before Edu got his touch on the ball, while it was soaring above the heads of the crowd.

      My theory, Koman regretted giving the free kick and took it away illegally, or he was simply paid off.

  20. World Cup Fan says:

    Adam Edg is correct. I’ve watched the situations from all angles and I did a frame by frame view to see where the foul was. There was no foul on the part of the US team. However, there were several Slovenians grabbing, pulling and bear hugging the U.S. Also, a Slovenian was holding on to Edu who broke free which was followed by a slide tackling from the Slovenian as a last chance to stop Edu from making a goal. There was no off-sides. By the time that the ball was kicked, all U.S. players were behind the ball. From all the fouls from the Slovenian team…the advantage went to the U.S. and therefore the call should never have been made.

  21. World Cup Fan says:

    As for Pete’s comment on how this has deterred him from watching the World Cup, if you take football, basketball, hockey etc….each sport has controversial calls made. Using Pete’s logic tells me Pete must not watch any sports then. If he does, then he must be just as biased as the referee. Most of us will watch because we support our teams not matter what and/or because of our love of the game. So I don’t know where Pete’s coming from.

    As for Pete’s comment on…and I quote,”Maybe now the world can understand why most Americans don’t really embrace this sport.” What is Pete talking about? Where the heck has he been? Soccer is the most embraced sport worldwide. In the U.S. it has become one of the most watched sports in America. The U.S. Open isn’t getting the attention they expected because everyone is tuning into the World Cup.

    Taking results from WikiAnswers: See the following results:
    The Most Popular Sport… FOOTBALL (American SOCCER)

    What are the most popular sports worldwide?
    With over 3.5 billion fans worldwide football “soccer” is the most popular sport on the planet.In Addition, Football (soccer) always ranks at the top of the majority of the credible lists published. Usually, popularity is measured based on “number of viewers/fans”. In that sense:

    * 1) Football (which is equivalent to American Soccer) is the most popular overall
    * 2) Tennis is the most popular “individual” sport (no team required)
    * 3) Golf is the most popular “solo” sport (can be played alone).

    So when you make a statement, make sure you have your facts straight.

  22. mark says:


    If England loses by chance, and we tie, we don’t go through. Algeria has 4 points, and we have 3.

    Regardless, this game was completely stolen by the ref. Terrible officiating.

    • doug says:

      Algeria has 1 point. Slovenia’s got 4. If we tie, Algeria will have 2 points, and if england loses, they’ll have 2 points as well. We’d be thru.

      I think the Brits will get it together against Slovenia, though, which means we’ll need to beat Algeria outright. Good thing is, if we tie on goal differential, we’ll win the group. This is key for round two, as Germany followed by Argentina would be a nightmare. This German team would run thru us like the blitzkreig thru Belgium, it wouldn’t be like 2002. Our big weakness is when teams pass the ball, our back four completely forget to mark up. Germany’s strength is passing the ball quickly and long distance.

  23. King says:

    first of all, it was offsides! the guy who was being dragged by the opposite player was in, not the scorer!! second, even if it was a mistake of the referee, why in God’s name are we making it a big deal? is this the first mistake in football’s history? Americans have started to act like Europeans, losers!!

  24. Steve says:

    Thanks King! For noticing along with me the actual off-sides. All this “but everyone was fouling”, “the linesman didn’t call it”, “he’s not the one who played the ball” ignores the rule book completely. #9 was clearly running to an offside position. He was the only player on the field making a serious move and as a referee, he would have caught my eye, even if the linesman had missed it. If the roles were reversed, they would be screaming for offsides as the player was directly in line to receive the pass and in the goal mouth. For a while I thought I was reading comments of hockey fans.

  25. John says:


    I have to admit everyone on this board probably knows more about soccer than I do. I can not agrue with you about it is or is not offisides. I can say this, every sports announcer, and soccer expert has said it was not offside. European and America, alike have said it was not offside. Being a soccer novice I have to go with the experts over what you have said. I am told that offside calls should be made by the lineman, not the guy who is ignoring 5 diffenent people getting mugged on the field. However if he was pre-occupied with doing the lines man job it would explain why he missed those calls.

    Why are we making a big deal about this, because in a country who’s soccer history is weak at best, this call kept the team from the biggest come back in either US soccer history or FIFA history. (Not sure which one.) That achivement is the kind of thing a team can unite around.

    Speaking for myself I am more upset that we still don’t know the call, and we may never know the call. However please do not act like waving off the goal was the clear cut thing to do. You have to be bias to think the call was clear good call, or to think the game was called well.

    Speaking of the rule book,
    It is not an offence in itself to be in an offside position.
    A player is in an offside position if:
    • he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the
    second-last opponent

    When I watch the video there is always at least one player closer to the goal than the us, secondly when Edu beats his man the ball is infront of him. Thirdly, the Ref is in the worst position possible to make that call, with a completly obscured vision of everyone but Edu.

    Maybe it was the correct call, maybe not. I think for sure we can say it was not a clear cut call.

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