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Montreal Impact staff and players were irate after referee Jorge Gonzalez decided to take back a penalty kick decision which could have put the team level against the Whitecaps.

MONTREAL - There have been plenty of controversial decisions at Stade Saputo this season, but none more so than the one made by referee Jorge Gonzalez in the 37th minute of Saturday’s game between the Montreal Impact and the Vancouver Whitecaps.

A Patrice Bernier volley struck the upper arm of Whitecaps defender Jun Marques Davidson, prompting Gonzalez to signal for a penalty kick. However, the decision was overturned nearly a minute later.

According to Impact coach Marco Schällibaum, it was the fourth official who advised Gonzalez that it wasn't a penalty.

“The referee whistled the penalty and then he was influenced by the fourth official to take back the call,” Schällibaum said in a very animated post-game press conference. “For me that’s a scandal. The decision was made and then all of a sudden it’s not a penalty.”

Kenny Miller had given the Whitecaps the lead from the penalty spot in the seventh minute after Hassoun Camara handled the ball in the box. Schällibaum acknowledged that the Impact hadn’t played very well in the first half, but insisted that getting the penalty kick could have dramatically changed the game.

The Impact dominated proceedings in the second half, as the Whitecaps defended their slim lead deep within their area. But in the dying minutes of the game, with the Impact pushing many bodies forward, Brazilian forward Camilo scored a brace and the Whitecaps walked away with a 3-0 win.  

Impact president Joey Saputo, who approached the referees on the field shortly after the final whistle to voice his disapproval with their display, explained his bewilderment at their non-penalty decision on his Twitter account at halftime.

“PK or not, how does the furthest official on the field, overturn a referees call,” Saputo asked.

In a written statement following the game, the referees explained that the decision to take back the penalty was a collective one.

“Mr. Gonzalez decided, based on input from the entire referee crew, that there was not an intentional handling of the ball on this play. The referee crew determined that the ball struck the Vancouver player's chest/shoulder area of the body with no intent to play the ball with his hand,” the referees concluded.

Schällibaum, who’s already been suspended five times this season, also lamented that some rules only seem to apply to the Impact and not to other teams.Once suspended for repeatedly leaving his technical area, the Swiss coach pointed out that Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie left his own technical area on numerous occasions in the game.

“They punish me, they punish me. I pay fines every month. But 80 percent of the time he (Rennie) was out of the technical area, and then nobody says anything,” Schällibaum said.  

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