A controversial hockey call, which took a goal away from Russia in its first Olympic match-up against the U.S. in Sochi, has got even President Vladimir Putin talking.
He was at the Saturday game that became a topic of heated debate after an American referee decided not to count a goal scored against U.S. netminder Jonathan Quick. The goal itself, the ref ruled, had been slightly moved off its moorings before the puck crossed the line.
The call forced the tied game into overtime then a shootout where the U.S. ultimately prevailed.
Since then, accusations of cheating and conspiracies have abounded. Russian fans were so upset they protested in Moscow, chanting, according to the New York Times, "turn the referee to soap!"
Now Putin has weighed in, revealing that he, too, disagreed with the call, but expected more from the Russian team.
"Even referees sometimes makes mistakes; here I wouldn't tar anybody with any brush, but I thought that we would win by a big margin," Putin said, according to Russia's RIA Novosti news site. "You and I shouldn't forget that sport isn't only about skill but also about the athletes' courage, and even a good slice of luck."
The RIA Novosti report also points out that the referee's call had been receiving a lot of attention in Russian media. The anchorman of the state's Rossiya network, the report said, even suggested that the referee's call was the result of a multi-million dollar deal tied to NBC's broadcast rights. "The Americans didn't purchase a defeat, he claimed."
The game's 3-2 conclusion secured a place for the Americans in the next round, but forced Russia to earn its quarterfinal spot with one more game against Norway. (Watch it here at 7:30 a.m. ET.)