Thoughts on the Referees: Day Five

Another great day of games in Brazil. Here are my thoughts on today’s referees:

Milorad Mazic (SRB), Germany v. Portugal
Mazic (above) is not a big guy, and he hasn’t been an Elite referee for very long, but he pretty much towered over this game. He called an early penalty for Germany after a tug in the box (more evidence that the referees are calling fouls in the box tight).

The Portuguese immediately swarmed him as he tried to talk to show the card; he kept telling them to get back and gesturing, but they ignored him. His response was to actually physically push Pepe away from him.*

A few minutes later, Pepe hit Thomas Muller in the face, and Muller put on a play. Mazic was running over and appeared to be signaling to Muller to get on with it, when Pepe walked over to Muller and head butted him. Mazic separated the two from the ensuing fight, and then sent Pepe off. And he was quite right to do so.

There was a penalty shout later in the game from Portugal, and I think they were right…but Mazic didn’t call it, the biggest mistake I saw from him. (Cristiano Ronaldo was damn lucky to get away without a yellow card when he  literally got in Mazic’s face over that…)

Overall, this guy was definitely steely and completely unperturbed by a very physical, sometimes nasty match.

*By the way, I’m not condoning Mazic physically touching and pushing players. I think it’s the last resort of a referee who’s losing control. I’m just stating that that’s what he did.

Carlos Vera (ECU), Iran v. Nigeria
I thought Vera was just okay. His foul detection left a bit to be desired, and he was extremely permissive. He also appeared to miss a Nigerian handball in the box. (Though it was hard for me to tell because ESPN insisted on “artistic” shots of the pitch instead of showing us the replay. Have I mentioned how I much I despise US television coverage?)

Compared to the incredibly tight game Mazic called, the difference with Vera and this game was stark. It brings up consistency issues…

Jonas Eriksson (SWE), Ghana v. USA
In general, I really like Eriksson. I like the way he communicates with players and manages the pitch. He’s got a calm manner that is really impressive. And his fitness is really good for such a big guy.

That said, this wasn’t the best game I’ve seen him referee. He let several things go, and his foul detection wasn’t as solid as he’s capable of. He didn’t let the game get away from him, but I’ve seen better from him.

His man management skills were on display when US’ Jermaine Jones tripped over a Ghana player and accidentally kicked him in the head. Eriksson used his impressive size to keep the players physically separated, then pulled them over to talk and had them shake hands. Sure, he could have produced a card, but opted to treat the players like professionals and work it out between them. That was well done.

(A side note: Eriksson was also the subject of a pre-match Twitter conversation about whether referees are supposed to wear their wedding rings. They’re not, but Eriksson always does and did today….which I find kind of sweet.)

Group Stage Reviews:
Day Five
Day Four

Day Three
Day Two
Day One

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