Thoughts on the Referees: Day Nine

Three more referees today, newcomer Ben Williams and two repeat referees, including the Dutch God of Refereeing, Bjorn Kuipers.

Enrique Osses (Chile) – Italy v. Costa Rica
I wasn’t nearly impressed with the Chilean referee in this match as I was in his first outing. But in his defense, this game was played midday in the heat and humidity of Recife (it required hydration breaks), so the conditions were tough.

Osses (above, dealing with an errant beach ball) seemed confident enough, but his foul detection was off from the start.

The worst moment came at :42. Costa Rica’s Joel Campbell was in the box, controlling the ball, and heading toward goal. Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini was beaten, so he put his arm on Campbell’s back and simply pushed him down. Osses was right on top of it, but wouldn’t even consider it.

This was as clear a penalty as you can get, and clearer than some that were called. (I’m looking at you, Fred.) It should have been a penalty kick and a yellow card for the professional foul.

Bryan Ruiz scored a couple of minutes later off the upper bar to put Costa Rica ahead, but that doesn’t negate the poor call on the Osses’ part.

It didn’t get better in the second half, when – at 51 minutes – the Costa Rican defender got all of the ball and none of Antonio Cassano. Cassano reacted by pushing the defender over…and Osses gave him a free kick in a good spot as a reward. Just absolutely bizarre.

On a brighter note, I thought his assistant referees looked really good and made several spot on offside calls.

Bjorn Kuipers (NED), Switzerland v. France
It’s hard for me to concentrate on the refereeing when Switzerland play, but I’ll do my best.

Per usual, Kuipers kept his cards in his pockets, preferring to use his presence and man management skills to control the match.

We lost a good defender, Steve Von Bergen, to a high boot in the face from Olivier Giroud quite early on. A lot of referees might call that as dangerous play, but Giroud was watching the ball and Von Bergen saw the boot coming and decided to be brave and go in anyway. Kuipers is pretty consistent with that kind of call; he won’t make it, and I’m satisfied with that.

The disallowed Swiss goal was offside, so no issue there.

Johan Djourou, not the brightest bulb on the Swiss Christmas tree on his best of days, let Karim Benzema con him into a conceding a penalty in the first half. But I don’t blame Kuipers for calling it. (Happily, Swiss goalkeeper Diego Benaglio stopped it.) Patrice Evra pleaded for another late in the second half, but Kuipers – quite rightly – waved him off.

He also played an excellent advantage on France’s fifth (%$^&!!!) goal.

So, my Swiss were horrendously wretched and I drank a lot today, but Kuipers was masterful.

I do love this referee.

Ben Williams (AUS), Honduras v. Ecuador
This is the first time we’ve seen Williams, and I must say, he is quite adorable. I may have to rethink my list

His fitness and positioning were good (although he slipped once). He had a very laid back style, and whilst that did allow a lot of exciting play, it meant he lost a bit of control as the game went on and started relying more heavily on his whistle and cards, frustrating the players and the fans (even when he was right – which he often was).

There was a penalty decision in the first half, when the Ecuadoran pushed the Honduras player down while he was attempting to head it in the box. I certainly feel like other referees have called similar fouls as penalties, and indeed, Honduras’ own Wilson Palacios conceded a penalty (and second yellow) against France for something very similar.

The big controversy came right at the end of first half stoppage time. Bengston appeared to score a goal, but then Williams called it back. Bengston seemed to be in an offside position. Williams called it as a handball, but in actuality it looks like – if you listen to the natural sound – he whistled it for the offside and not handball. However, he later pointed to his hand when speaking to Honduras.

(ESPN said they looked at it many times at the break – though, of course, they didn’t show us – and they say there is a slight touch of the arm, and there’s no official word of offside from FIFA – so the goal was apparently disallowed for handball. I don’t know if it was right, because I haven’t seen it myself.)

So, it’s pretty understandable that the Honduras players were confused.

However, their behavior with Williams was pretty unseemly. They surrounded him, screaming, after he told them to get back and even ran away from them. He handled it well, giving them a warning and then pulled out the cards, but he had to be protected from them by his assistants and even the Honduras goalkeeper. He stayed on the pitch until the teams were in the changing rooms.

He had a great call on a potential penalty at the 57th minute, when Felipe Caicedo was cleanly tackled in the box but tried to make it appear that there was more contact than there was. Very nicely done by the Australian team, especially the assistants, who made several very good offside calls.

Williams was just okay. Maybe not the strongest referee out there, and his style was probably a bit “matey” for these teams, but he held his own.


  • Although I think that was a penalty on Joel Campbell’s play, I think you need to applaud the referee for researching the players in advance; Joel Campbell is notorious for falling (I say mores than Ronaldo). Though I think he got it wrong, he definitely did his research, which every ref should do at a big competition.



      I totally understand that referees are human and reputations follow players. I get that. But I’m a Tottenham fan and watched Bale basically driven out of the EPL in his last year by refs who were calling dives even when he was being hit, sometimes brutally, because of his “reputation”. It became a joke that every time I’d trip on the sidewalk, my friends would intone “Yellow card for Gareth Bale”

      If Aguilar “researched Campbell in advance” and then made the decision, a clear one, based on that “research” and not the actual play – essentially deciding in advance – then he should not ref at this level again.

      I think you’re wrong but the premise, to me, is absolutely infuriating.

      Referees should make the call that is in front of them. If they base it on some phantom “research” that the player can’t control and not the actual play in front of them, then what they’re being is unfair and biased and allowing guys like Chiellini carte blanche to cheat.

      And applaud is NOT what we should do…


  • Pingback: Goal or Not: Williams and Honduras v. Ecuador | PLAY THE ADVANTAGE

  • Jenna, William’s is Australian, of course he is “matey”! You’ll be lucky to find one that isn’t in the A – League.
    I think that William’s made a superb call with the handball (the balls deflects from the upper arm onto the knee) but the whole farce could have been avoided if Haknan Anaz (AR-2) had have given the offside.
    In addition and in response to your above comment; you absolutely right in referees should not judge situation based on the reputations of players and spectators should not accuse the referee of doing this. Although, I (and you also) would be naive to believe that referees completely ignore reputations of players. At this level, officiating crews do plenty of video research and general analysis of the teams and players that they will be controlling. It is very sad that any player has a reputation for being a “diver”, but regardless you are correct in that referees need to evaluate games based on the facts that they have, not speculation and stereotypes.


    • I actually give Aguilar the benefit of the doubt here. He didn’t see it, or he was out of position, or it just didnt seem to be a foul for him. But, as a neutral, Campbell didn’t dive here. Not even close and in fact he was working hard every step til he was pushed. He didn’t even react poorly, despite his disbelief. If any referee were to look at that and say that what Chiellini did was okay because he’d seen tapes of Campbell diving before, you might be able to understand, but it shouldn’t be applauded.


  • Pingback: Thoughts on the Referees: Day Ten | PLAY THE ADVANTAGE

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