World Cup Linesman

There is nothing better than a month dedicated to football. The World Cup is one huge massive chunk of joy for fans, but despite the enjoyable matches so far in Brazil and the abundance of goals, referees like Yuichi Nishimura, Wilmar Roldan and his crew and Nicola Rizzoli have made it possible for many to feel like there’s something wrong with the tournament.

Maybe the blame isn’t on the referees. FIFA love to show off with their goal line technology, but everyone knows that’s like putting a band aid on a broken leg. The big problem is that referees and those that help them out don’t see well enough to know if there was a penalty, offside or similar events. Instead of getting a quick fix and answer from a replay booth, we’re stuck with mistakes that every other sport in the world is doing a lot to try and eliminate. Flow and pace are important, but getting things right should be more.

It began in the first match between Brazil and Croatia. Favorites and hosts are always suspect to enjoy some calls going their way, and Brazil might have been saved in the second half as Nishimura called for a penalty in favor of Brazil. Dejan Lovren put his hands on Fred for less than a second, and the Brazilian striker took a dive like someone dropped him with force onto the grass. Neymar scored the penalty, Brazil won the match.

offside

Not offside

A day later and Mexico, in their 1-0 win over Cameroon (luckily they won), had to suffer because Wilmar Roldan and his Colombian crew don’t know an offside when they see one, or to be more accurate, see them when they don’t actually exist. Two first half goals from an excellent Mexican side were disallowed for offside calls. The first was a clear one-line incident which shouldn’t have been called while the second goal had the ball reach Dos Santos off a Cameroonian defender. Peralta’s goal at the end of the day made those mistakes meaningless.

Another penalty mistake that eventually didn’t matter came in the match between Spain and the Netherlands. Many complained that there aren’t enough European referees in the tournament which would cut the number of mistakes. Nicola Rizzoli is one of the best in Europe, but that didn’t make him any more observant as Diego Costa dove like only he can to weasel out a penalty from Stefan de Vrij. Xabi Alonso scored from the spot, but the Dutch side won 5-1, once again making that mistake a forgettable anecdote in the match.