Thoughts on the Referees: Day Eleven

Yesterday was an exciting day (who knew Iranians were so passionate about football?), and exciting in the refereeing world is never good. Today was much more calm.

Dr. Felix Brych (GER), Belgium v. Russia
Brych (above) was his usually dreamy, yet insouciant, self.

He just mostly loped around the pitch, looking pretty, but not really being tested too much.

The first half he didn’t make a lot of calls, apart from one yellow for a high Russian boot that caught the hand of the Belgian player. He did wave off a penalty shout from Russia’s Maksim Kanunnikov who tripped on the ball; Brych didn’t buy that there was enough contact for a penalty.

(Edit: I rewatched the penalty shout situation at 26. The Russian player, Kanunnikov, definitely comes down because he stepped right down on the top of the ball and went over the front of it. Even if the Belgian player got a touch on his foot – and if it was, it was minor – he was already going down because he stepped on the ball. Sorry, but no decent referee is going to call a penalty for that.)

In the second half, he called a handball against Russia that seemed pretty obvious, giving Belgium a shot in a good position. Russia couldn’t really argue it.

His positioning overall was pretty good; though – as I’ve said before – he’s not the paciest of referees. He did explain his calls well to the players, but it was usually with a shrug and an “Oh, well” expression. Still, it didn’t seem to have impact his ability to manage the teams and they responded pretty well to him.

Overall, I always like to see Brych on the pitch, and he’s had a good tournament so far. Just not a great one.

Wilmar Roldan (COL), South Korea v. Algeria
Roldan’s team had a rough time on their first time out with Mexico v. Cameroon, but I was glad to see FIFA kept him around, whilst sending home the offending assistant. He actually is a good referee, and he seemed to have no problem adapting to his new Ecuadoran assistant, Christian Lescano.

His foul detection in both halves was pretty decent, and he definitely had a no nonsense attitude. He kept a tight hand on the game, and made it clear he was in no mood for dissent. He was over 50 minutes in before he drew his first card, but the game never felt out of control.

Interestingly, early in the second half, he called the exact kind of shoulder pulling foul by defenders that Peter O’Leary let go in Nigeria’s win over Bosnia Herzegovina. For the record, I think Roldan was right and O’Leary was wrong.

Roldan is really a very good referee, and I’m glad that FIFA had the wisdom to adjust his team and keep him in this tournament. He was a big reason this was such an exciting game.

Nestor Pitana (ARG), USA v. Portugal
Pitana is just enormous. One of the biggest referees I’ve seen.

He called the first water break in the Cup, at about 40 minutes into the first half. It seems late, but the players were starting to flag in the Manaus humidity and heat. Pitana’s blue kit had changed colors through the half, getting a much deeper blue. It was definitely the right decision.

His foul detection was relatively good and no one really screwed with him, probably because he looks such a beast.

He did make a mistake in extra time in the first half when Jeff Cameron made sure to stop Cristiano Ronaldo’s advance by body checking him. He gave the foul, but not the yellow card he should have.

Later, though, he didn’t fall for Ronaldo’s obvious attempt to draw a foul right outside the box, which was the right call.

His ARs were excellent all night.

He added five minutes of time on the second half, mostly due to injuries and frankly – some time wasting from the USA. That five minutes – just like in the Champions League final – impacted the game and allowed Portugal (who, frankly, hadn’t played well) to score.

Overall, though, I thought the Argentinian team did really well and kept themselves from being the story of the game. They’re amongst my favourites in this tournament.


  • Iranians are VERY passionate about their football. I’m surprised that isn’t well known.


  • I was impressed by Brych today actually. I thought that his fitness was actually better than usual. However, I think that the Russians had a strong case with the penalty appeal in the 26′. Having said that, I can understand Brych’s decision not to give it, as it may have looked like the defender won the ball in real time. Interestingly former top level FIFA referee Urs Meier has said: “A clear foul, but you cannot blame Brych. From his position you cannot see it and it looked like the ball was maybe played. Only the replays from other visual angles showed it.”

    Roldan was quite solid, but I though that he missed a clear penalty for Algeria in the 4th minute. Likewise there was a good shout for a penalty for Korea in the 90+2′ … this one was a bit like the Wilson Palacious penalty (and red card).

    Finally Pitana was very impressive, allowing for physical play and a flowing game (although I thought that he was a bit too lenient on a few card/no card fouls). Likewise his ARs were excellent.


    • Have you seen that Russian thing from the front? He stepped on the ball! Maybe there was touch, but the quote you gave above COMPLETELY ignores that. He came down because of that, and quite frankly, I don’t know that Aweruiehadjsajfder or whatever the hell his name is WOULD have touched him if he hadn’t stumbled. Sorry.


  • IMO, it was a definite penalty (referring to Brych). However, I can’t really place too much blame on the German as he was positioned optimally. He was just received by the movement of the ball, but you can definitely see the Belgian defender “kick” the Russian attacker.

    I agree with you – Brych it seems has no personality. Webb and Proenca seem to be the most charismatic, while Messrs Brych, Skomina and Mazic look “dull” if I may.

    Crucial mistake in an otherwise a decent performance: 7.9 (8.4) for me.


    • To be fair, he is German. 🙂 He comes from a culture that isn’t overly expressive. Believe me, I know plenty of buttoned-down Swiss who seem dull at first blush, but are anything but…


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