Thoughts on the Referees: Day Seven

We had another exciting day, with 2010 champions Spain exiting the tournament and Alex Song treating us to the stupidest behavior of the tournament so far…

Djamel Haimoudi (ALG), Netherlands v Australia
Haimoudi’s inability to hide his sheer, unbridled joy at walking out onto the pitch was truly charming. It’s a good reminder that these are human beings and it’s as much an honour for them as it is for the players.

That said, I wish he had done better.

Truthfully, he wasn’t horrible; I’ve seen worse this tournament (I’m looking at you, Ravshan Irmatov).

He did do a good job of managing the pitch, and his fitness was much better than what we’ve seen from a few other referees. Though, granted, it wasn’t as hot as other matches. But he did miss a couple of major issues, including Robin Van Persie’s flailing about.

(Although, to be fair to Van Persie, flailing about is kind of his natural state. He has all the grace of a baby giraffe.)

Robin Van Persie

Robin Van Persie

The penalty call in the box against Daryl Janmaat was definitely harsh, though it could be argued that it was technically correct. I have a consistency issue with it which I discuss elsewhere.

So, not the worst performance I’ve seen this World Cup, but not the best, either.

Mark Geiger (USA), Spain v. Chile
Another solid outing for the American (above).

He was very firm with both teams, particularly towards Chile. He reacted pretty fiercely when Arturo Vidal begged (over and over and over) for a foul that he said was an elbow. Geiger – and the rest of us – knew full well it wasn’t.

However, he did later miss a dive from the Chilean defender right in front of him and called the foul on Andres Iniesta instead.

He also let go a cynical challenge from Pedro designed to stop the attack, and you’d normally see yellow then (it was about 35 minutes in, so not too early). His showing of a yellow card instead of a red card to Xabi Alonso for a hard challenge was a brave decision and also probably the right one.

In the second half, though, he was fairly invisible, which is what you want from your referee. His fitness is also impressive and he kept up with play under muggy conditions.

All in all, this is a much, much stronger referee than I have ever given him credit for. I think talk of FIFA giving him the final is a tad premature, but he’s sure not done himself any harm so far in this tournament.

Pedro Proenca (POR), Cameroon v. Croatia
Proenca was a nice choice for this match, because he has that calm, trustful air about him. He did start off by calling things very tight, and I’d say that that was purposeful. This was still a physical game and filled with a lot of dramatics.

Until right before the half, I’d say Proenca was pretty lenient.

Right about the 40th minute, that is, when Alex Song did something even stupider than Pepe. And let me tell you, you have to work pretty hard to be stupider than Pepe.

On a completely innocuous break, Song was following Mario Mandzukic, who didn’t even have the ball and wasn’t even paying attention to Song. He was just … running. Song checked to see where Mandzukic was, and then punched the Croatian between the shoulder blades with his elbow. For no reason!

Proenca had his eye right on Song, stopped the play and immediately showed red without a moment’s hesitation. And he was spot on. No need to even bother with playing “red card or not” on that one.

Here’s the moment:

What did you think of Haimoudi, Geiger and Proenca? Let us know below.


  • Fair enough. I definitely underestimated Geiger before this WC as well.
    Proenca was quite good, but I’d just like to point out that Asou-Ekotto was even stupider than both Pepe and Alex Song, when he headbutted his own teammate Moukandjo in the 89th min. But in fairness to Proenca, I beleive that he was facing the other way, after cautioning a Croat (Eduardo).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I don’t think Pedro saw it, or he’d have no compunction taking action. FIFA or the Federation may take retroactive action.

      Cameroon were just a mess…


  • Couldn’t watch the games today other than 5 minutes here and there. Great review and Song’s GIF is excellent, until I scrolled down I couldn’t believe anybody could be “stupider” than Pepe. What was he thinking?!?!? Also, great to know that Geiger is doing well, he’s a good referee and a great humble guy, who’s not afraid to share his knowledge with lower level refs.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Wow…I missed most of the games yesterday (though I guess by watching the first one, I did the best pick), and this foul is disgusting.

    Liked by 1 person

  • stephen armstrong

    some commentaters and correspondents are getting caught up in the EXACT interpretion of the laws, but the refs seem to taking most incidents in context of the general flow of the match. i like this. mr geiger (usa) allowing advantage for switzerlands late winner and not sending off the young french player against a very aggressive honduras (mr. ricci (bra)), being cases in point

    Liked by 1 person

    • The referee’s judgment is extremely important, but referees still have to follow the Law and they have to be consistent amongst each other, especially in a tournament like this. A referee who sacrifices the Law for the “general flow” of the match is taking a risk. And fans who watch one team get away with something that another calls, and vice versa have every right to question that…


    • And just to be clear, it was not Mark Geiger in Switzerland’s match. It was Ravshan Irmatov of Uzbekistan.


      • stephen armstrong

        thank you for the correction on referees, maybe the way i phrase things is not of the highest standards, but my point is that referees are not ‘interpreting’ the laws, but that the introduction of common sense and level headedness is obvious against the bleatings of commentators who only want to write the next days headlines.


  • I didn’t realize until the header picture that Mark Geiger uses a Fox 40. I hate those whistles: so shrill, not expressive, and at a busy park they’re on every other field. Geiger uses it well though.
    The USA Third Team is really having a great tournament.


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