Opening matches in the World Cup are sometimes dull affairs. Brazil facing Croatia was anything but with goals, some impressive ball playing skills from Neymar and Oscar but also another side of football which we can do without: Referees deciding matches, as Yuichi Nishimura saw a penalty where there was none, already giving us the first controversy of the tournament.
One complaint that has been constant throughout the years in World Cup matches is the level of international referees. Yuichi Nishimura started out well in Brazil vs Croatia, but as the match grew longer and the hosts had more trouble, it seemed like the pressure from the fans and the players was getting to the 42 year old who has plenty of World Cup and big match experience, but might be a bit too easily pushed around at the moment.
Dejan Lovren should have been smarter. He did put his hands on the shoulders of Fred. But he didn’t hold him or prevent the struggling Brazilian striker from turning around. He merely touched him, which shouldn’t be a cause for a penalty. However, footballers these days need only the narrowest of windows to make something out of nothing. Fred fell to the ground with a penalty shout. Nishimura, probably not seeing the event, called for a penalty based on where the match was played and the reaction of the player.
According to Big Phil, there’s no question about it. It was a penalty: For me it was a penalty, there are things that everyone interprets differently. It is the interpretation of the referee. “I have seen it repeated 10 times on TV.
As expected, Niko Kovac, the Croatian head coach who did a very good job in setting up his team to disturb and take advantage of weaknesses on this Brazilian side, didn’t really see eye to eye with the Brazilian manager: Fifa’s slogan is respect. We have to respect both teams. It was ridiculous. If it remains this way, it will become a circus. I need to say this and hope things get better. It was a fair Brazilian win, we need to recognize that, Brazil doesn’t need any help, they have a lot of excellent players and cant be blamed for the refereeing. I also cant blame Fred, he did what everybody tries to do, its from the sport. But I want to see the rules being followed for both sides.
Diving is a problem, but FIFA are busy wasting their time with Goal Line Technology instead of using replays and monitors to make sure the more common mistakes are eradicated. Penalties, offsides on goal or non goal situations, red cards. That is what officials usually miss or simply call wrong, and that is where they need the most help, instead of relying on a completely “manual” system that has long been considered outdated and simply not up to standards.
And onto a different that has something to do with it: Diving. It’s getting to a point where people complain about those who complain about diving because it’s getting tired. But if footballers continue to embarrass themselves and their profession, which is much more than just a pass time for most of the world, then this disgusting habit of cheating without physically hurting others has got to stop.