Thoughts on the Referees: Day Eight
Two of refereeing’s old guard – Howard Webb of England (above) and Carlos Velasco of Spain – came out to play today. One performed well, and one performed…well….
Howard Webb (ENG), Colombia v. Ivory Coast
Webb reminded us today why he’s one of the best. He was nigh on perfect the first half, keeping his cards in his pockets but still controlling the game. He uses his size and intimidating visage to great effect, and today was no exception.
One of the big criticisms against Webb in the EPL has been his love of the “no call.” Webb will not, the talk goes, make a call that will change the game unless he has no other choice. While at times frustrating for fans, on the spectrum of refereeing flaws, I don’t find that all that horrible.
I definitely saw a couple of no calls, including a kick to the Colombian player’s shins by Yaya Toure that could easily have seen yellow. There was also a tackle by Mario Yepes in the box that a less lenient referee might have given as a penalty.
Have to say, though, his first yellow card (earlier in the second half) to Didier Zokora seemed a little soft in comparison. He gave only free kicks for worse than that.
I thought Howard looked good today. And he refereed pretty well, too! (See what I did there…?)
Carlos Velasco (ESP), Uruguay v. England
(Note: The referee is Spanish and uses Spanish naming convention. So, while his full name is Carlos Velasco Carballo, he is appropriately addressed as Velasco.)
This isn’t the best I’ve ever seen from CVC.
He blows his whistle a lot, true, but the game always felt close to boiling over. I saw a couple of times where the players, England in particular, outwardly questioned his decisions – rather belligerently at times – without ever receiving a response from the referee. He never looked fully in control.
In the 28th minute Godin committed a cynical foul to stop Daniel Sturridge’s advance that by all intents and purposes appeared to be a yellow. But Godin, Uruguay’s captain, was already on a yellow, and Velasco did not give it. It appeared (from behind) that Velasco went briefly for his pocket, but decided not to produce the card. I felt this was lenient, to say the least.
He had some good moments, though, including a beautifully played advantage, and he really settled down and regained control (just when I feared he was losing it) in the second half.
As for his ARs, at least one of them was dreamy in both senses of the word: good looking and also appeared to be asleep.
But I will say this, and I think it’s really important for Americans especially to know, he was not nearly as bad as ESPN made him out to be. Ian Darke and Steve McManaman are extremely biased toward England to the point of sliding into unprofessionalism. Check out this video of Darke attacking an injured Urugayan, and then getting major egg on his face when the player turned out to be unconscious.
But, yes, Velasco made some questionable calls, especially in the first half. I think that the non-yellow call, is particularly worrying, especially if he started to give it and changed his mind because the player was already on a yellow.
Joel Aguilar (SLV), Japan v Greece
I really like Aguilar. Good manner with the teams, and yet seems to fade into the background. And as we’ve said before, invisibility is a good trait in a referee.
Well, he was invisible until he produced a second yellow card for Greece’s captain, Kostas Katsouranis, just before the half. Both were professional fouls. I think Aguilar was right on the second yellow; in fact, I believe he had the courage to do what Velasco probably should have done.
ForTheWin has a great piece on the sending off here, complete with videos of both fouls.
He did, however, miss a bit of pushing and shoving from a frustrated 10-man Greece. His ARs probably should have spotted that for him.
All in all, though, I like this Salvadoran team.
Photo: AP/Fernando Llano