Thoughts on the Referees: Day Three
Luckily, the referees appear to have moved past their nervy start and the four referees today performed admirably. There was one big penalty call and a red card (both from Felix Brych in Uruguay v. Costa Rica) but neither could really be disputed.
Mark Geiger (USA), Colombia v. Greece – Geiger did really, really well. Very solid performance, and he looked very confident once the match got started (he looked a little like a deer in headlights beforehand, I must say).
One of the things I’ve heard on Twitter from non-refereeing types is that he was the BEST REFEREE OF THE WHOLE TOURNMENT, and such. I’m afraid not. He did a good job, no doubt, but there’s a reason guys like Geiger are refereeing Colombia v. Greece and not Spain v. Netherlands. It was a pretty straightforward match, and while he performed well, I don’t know that we’ll see him in the bigger matches. But I think we will see him again.
Felix Brych (GER), Uruguay v. Costa Rica – Let’s get it out of the way: he looked fantastic (see above). Even the announcers agreed, declaring that we had a “looker” in charge.
And I thought he actually performed really well. Very solid, kept control of the game. He let things go when it was best for the flow of the game, but he also made several spot on calls. The penalty call was correct, and he had no choice on the red card, either.
That said… Ya’ll know I love me some Felix Brych. I do. But I am unconvinced by his fitness. Yes, it was hot and humid. But this wasn’t a particularly pacey game and he walked a lot. I noticed in the Europa League final that he struggled to keep up with the very fast pace, particularly as he tired in extra time. I suspect that this will hold him back from some showpieces in this tournament, despite his being an excellent referee.
Bjorn Kuipers (NED), England v. Italy – I do like Kuipers, and not just because he made me famous in the Netherlands. He really is establishing himself as the best there is. His positioning is perfect, and his demeanor with the players is calm and relaxed and yet still very much authoritative. He kept the game flowing.
Every time I see him, I’m more and more impressed. He really is a top class referee. At this point, I say the only thing standing between Bjorn Kuipers and the final would be the Dutch team themselves…
Enrique Osses (CHI), Cote d’Ivoire v. Japan – Osses ran an interesting game, striking a balance between allowing the teams – Ivory Coast, especially – to play their physical game, while keeping things from going too far. Many times referees will swing one way or the other, either being permissive or letting things deteriorate. Osses walked that line pretty well.
He also reversed himself on a corner call – presumably on advice from his linesman – and he was right; it took a deflection off the Japanese player, and was rightly a corner for CIV instead of the goal kick he originally signaled.
He did have a funny moment, when he accidentally sprayed the players’ boots with the vanishing spray. Fortunately for him, they didn’t actually vanish.