Finally…the day that the world has been waiting four years to arrive is upon us! For the past month I have been counting down the days and have been waiting with such excitement for the 2014 World Cup. This one is a sort of special one for me…it’s being played in Brazil and for many of those people who know me well, they know that I have a special love affair with the South American country of Samba and Soccer. Although I am of Italian and Portuguese heritage, my love for Brazil comes from my background as a musician/percussionist. This world cup fuses both my passions as they collide into a month-long high of great football being played in the midst of great music!
In keeping with the theme of my blog, I will attempt to pick out the good, the bad and the ugly of the refereeing and decision-making throughout the tournament, and give you my own humble opinion on how I saw things. These are only my own opinions and in way do I suggest that I am the greatest referee in the world…if I was, I would be in Brazil this month, not sitting at my computer writing this blog! 😉
So, let’s get on with it then…
Match Day 1 – Brazil vs. Croatia [Referee: Yuichi Nishimura (JPN)]
In my opinion, Nishimura was a good choice for the opening match. In talks with colleagues, I had predicted 3 officials for this match and Nishimura was my third choice. In all, I felt that he (and his team) had a great match and did an excellent job – 9/10 in my books, and here are the 2 reasons why:
1) OFFSIDE decision in first half
43′ of play in the first half – AR1 raises his flag for an offside against Brazil. Replays show that there was in fact a Brazilian in an offside position however, it was not the player who was involved in active play.
Law 11 of the FIFA LOTG clearly states that “It is not an offence in itself to be in an offside position.” (pp. 35) On that same page, it goes further to specify exactly when it becomes an offence:
“A player in an offside position is only penalised if, at the moment the ball
touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee,
involved in active play by:
• interfering with play or
• interfering with an opponent or
• gaining an advantage by being in that position”
FIFA goes further to define what being involved in active play actually means, and what each bullet point actually entails in the guidelines and interpretations on page 108:
• “interfering with play” means playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a team-mate
• “interfering with an opponent” means preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or challenging an opponent for the ball
• “gaining an advantage by being in that position” means playing a ball
i) that rebounds or is deflected to him off the goalpost, crossbar or an opponent having been in an offside position
ii) that rebounds, is deflected or is played to him from a deliberate save by an opponent having been in an offside position
The instant replay clearly shows a Brazilian player in an offside position however, he’s not involved, nor does he ever become involved in active play. The player who IS involved inactive play and receives the ball was actually in an onside position when the ball was played to him by a team-mate – he was NOT closer to his opponent’s goal line than the second last defender.
2) PENALTY decision in the second half
There has already been a ton of controversy surrounding this call, and for good reason. In my opinion, this was a mistake! It may have been the pressure of doing the opening match, the stress of the home crowd buzzing in the stands, or maybe FIFA wants to make a clear point that this sort of holding will not be tolerated. Whatever the reason, I thing this was an incorrect decision, and if Mr. Nishimura saw this from a different angle (his positioning during this phase of play was a little strange) I believe he would NOT have deemed this an infringement, and PK. Here’s why I think he’s wrong…In the 68th minute of play, Fred has the ball inside the Croatian PA and Croatian defender Dejan Lovren has a hand on Fred’s left shoulder. Fred then proceeds to fall over onto his right side claiming that he was held. Was there any contact? YES. Was there enough to trow Fred to the ground? In my opinion, NO. In fact, Lovren’s hand was on Fred’s left shoulder, and if he was held and fouled, Fred should have fallen to his left side. If you ask me, I think Nishimura was dooped and there could have been a possible caution to Fred for simulation…but I’ll leave that for another time. Here’s a look of the incident – you decide!
And here it is in a 4 step sequence for a better angle…
The Third Blind Mouse