Thoughts on the Referees: Day Four

Ravshan Irmatov (UZB), Switzerland v. Ecuador – I’ll be completely honest: I support Switzerland, so I’m biased. But I do sympathize with fans of teams like Croatia and Mexico, who’ve been hard done by referees, because Irmatov’s team were pretty awful.

I counted no less than three Ecuadorian handballs in the box, without a single call of any kind on any of them. While at least two may have been harsh, he should have dealt with them, because frankly, they kept doing it because he wasn’t calling them. Likewise, Switzerland’s propensity not to dive or complain (with the notable exception of Stefan Lichtsteiner, affected as he is by years of playing in Serie A) caused Irmatov to miss several fouls against the Swiss, including a blatant kick to Steve von Bergen’s stomach.

Finally, the scoreline should have been 3-1 instead of 2-1, because a goal was disallowed for Granit Xhaka being offside. Except Xhaka never touched the ball. Irmatov somewhat made up for it by a beautifully played advantage that allowed Switzerland to get the winning goal (above). But still, that’s three disallowed goals for offside in the tournament that were actually goals. While, so far, the two teams involved managed to win anyway, eventually it will cost someone (and it may still cost them in goal differential). FIFA need to ensure the ARs get it right.

A final note: Switzerland, as a rule, do not dive. While I’m biased, it’s true: They tend to jump over fouls or keep going even after they’ve been fouled. They showed today that it’s perfectly possible to win without the kind of theatrics we saw from Fred and Brazil…

Sandro Ricci (BRA), France v. Honduras –  Sandro Ricci had a good game. He did everything he could to keep the game 11 v 11, choosing not to to give a red card when Paul Pogba and Wilson Palacios tangled in the first half, even though he could have. (He yellow carded both players.)

The penalty call and second yellow against Palacios were unavoidable; it was a stupid foul by Palacios.

I was particularly impressed by his ARs, who had no compunction about walking onto the pitch or otherwise getting involved to separate players or keep the peace.

The big controversy in his match had nothing to do with him. France’s second goal does not, from any angle, appear to have fully crossed the line and he originally signaled that it wasn’t a goal. But goal line technology said it was. The only thing I could think is that at one point in the air it was all the way over the line. But if the GLT signals to him that it’s over, Ricci has to call it as a goal and he did.

Joel Aguilar (El Salvador), Argentina v. Bosnia and Herzegovina – Not much to say about Aguilar either way, which when it comes to talking about referees is always a good thing. He made a couple of solid foul calls, but he mostly was invisible.

His ARs were outstanding, though. Overall, the Salvadoran team did well.


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