Referees are surely the most hard-working persons on the football pitch and they don’t have any supporters who root for them, neither at the stadium nor at home. At least they have the other fellow referees and their superiors who cheer and encourage them. Whatever decision they take, they always have someone who will be contradicting them. This was also the case during this year’s FIFA World Cup where several decisions taken by the referees were regarded as being absurd and hare-brained ones.
Actually, referees at the 2014 FIFA World Cup being held in Brazil couldn’t have had a worse start than the one they had with World Cup hosts, Brazil, being awarded a crucial and highly dubious penalty against Croatia. Before the penalty was awarded, the game was evenly matched at 1-1. Japanese referee, Yuichi Nishimura, an experienced official who officiates J-League games, saw defender Dejan Lovren place a hand on the arm of Brazil's Fred. With some drama moves he had learnt at his local drama organisation, the latter didn’t hesitate to act as if he had been shot. Neymar took the penalty and sent Brazil on their way to a crucial 3 points.
Most top-level European referees, who are used to the antics of strikers who go down at the slightest of touches, would have probably given Fred a yellow card for simulation. However, Nishimura, who is used to the more honest Japanese league, fell for Fred’s drama trick. The main question here is, “Fred, can you please give me the number of your drama school so that I can forward it to those who are longing to start drama?”
No wonder Croatia’s manager Kovac was furious with regard to this particular decision. In fact, after the match, he stated, “If that's a penalty, we don't need to play football anymore. Let's play basketball instead, it's a shame. If you continue in this vein then there will be 100 penalties during this World Cup."
We move on to Spain vs Holland, a match during which another highly dubious penalty was awarded, this time to Spain’s Diego Costa. Experienced Italian referee, Niccola Rizzoli, awarded Spain the penalty after Dutch defender Stefan de Vrij slid into the box and appeared to clip Diego Costa's heel. In spite of this, replays showed a different picture. Not disheartened by this penalty decision, Netherlands went on to win the match 5-1 and give a strong message to Spain.
Another game, another controversy. This time during the match between Mexico and Cameroon Here, Mexican footballer Giovanni Dos Santos had two goals disallowed for offside calls by Colombian official Wilmar Alexander Roldan Perez. While the first decision could have gone either way, the second was a crystal clear mistake. Dos Santos finished off a corner at the far post that had been flicked on by Cameroon's Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting. The referee thought that another Mexican player had touched the ball and not Choupo-Moting, and thus ruled out the goal as offside. After the match, Mexico’s head coach Miguel Herrera said, "Frankly, the refereeing took away two clear goals, but at the end of the day you've got to work for it, and we get to the next match with three points and very high spirits."
Costa Rica`s crucial match with 4-time-World Champions Italy, saw another gross mistake by the match officials. Arsenal’s Joel Campbell broke into the box with a surging run, and was bundled over by Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini, who simply ran into Campbell’s back. Amazingly, the referee turned down Costa Rica’s appeals for a penalty. With so many penalties being called during this World Cup, it’s simply incredible that this stonewall penalty wasn’t given.
Another ludicrous decision was taken during the game between Nigeria and Bosnia Herzegovina where the latter’s striker, Edin Dzeko, had a goal chalked off for an inexistent offside. Dzeko, his nation's record goal scorer, stated that Bosnia’s captain, Emir Spahic, was fouled by Emmanuel Emenike in the run-up to Nigeria's sole goal which gave them the all-important three points, during his post-match interview. Edin Dzeko stated: “Today we should have won this game. The referee was shameful in this competition. We are going home, we are sad because of that but this referee should be going home too. He changed the result and he changed the game. That's why we lost.”
The mistakes and questionable calls continue to add up match after match, this time during the match between Argentina and Iran. Here, referee Milorad Mazic, didn't point to the spot when Argentina right back Pablo Zabaleta challenged Ashkan Dejagah in the second half as the midfielder was running toward goal. Up to this point the game was balanced and the score was still tied at 0-0. Argentina went on to win the match 1-0 with a 92nd minute screamer from Lionel Messi. After the match, Iran’s coach Carlos Queiroz stated: “It should have been a penalty and red card (for Zabaleta). There's no excuse. There's nothing that can explain (why) this Serbian referee (did) not give the penalty. How can this guy sleep tonight, or for the rest of his life? With all respect, I would like to have the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with him. Why did he do that to us?”
Even though some of the aforementioned mistakes were huge ones, I bring to you earth-shaking news, “Referees are human beings too!” Whilst the magnifying glass is continually getting closer to their officiating during this world class tournament, we wish all referees the best of luck in their upcoming matches.
Finally, we would like to give you some advice dear refs. Look out for divers, and forget about the beautiful senoritas present in Brazil. We know it’s difficult and we know you’re human beings, but for your own good pay attention to the ever increasing number of divers on pitch. Don’t let them kill the ‘beautiful game’. Best of Luck!