Thoughts on the Referees: Day Twelve

Great performances from the referees today in some very physical and exciting games.

Bakary Gassama (Gambia), Netherlands v. Chile
First time I’ve seen Gassama (above), but I was fairly impressed with him. He was pretty good at foul detection, not missing much. These two teams are prone to, shall we say, over-exaggerating. He didn’t fall for much of that.

Not too much, at least. I did see Arjen Robben get a free kick after he fell over at the slightest touch, but that’s not the first time I’ve ever seen that. There were at least three penalty shouts from Chile in the first half. The first two had minor contact but not enough to warrant a penalty, and the third was Vargas throwing himself desperately at the Oranje defender. None were called by Gassama.

He did allow several very heavy challenges, but it never really got out of control. He kind of let Netherlands play their very physical game without it descending into violence.

His team did miss at least one offside call (the Chilean player was in motion but still onside when the ball was played).

His manner with the players was good. He always had a slightly indulgent smile on his face, but was firm at the same time.

He was also quite fit, keeping up with play very well. I saw him running backwards at times as fast as some of the players were moving forward.

Nawaf Shukralla (Bahrain), Australia v. Spain
I don’t have a lot to say about Shukralla. It wasn’t a hugely difficult match to referee, but for the most part he did really well.

I saw a couple of rough challenges, but he mostly did well with his foul detection, calling a couple that I might have let go but also not calling a few that I might have. HIs yellow card to Sergio Ramos in the 62nd minute seemed a bit soft to me, but there was more than a hint of accumulation of fouls about it. We don’t know if he’d warned Ramos beforehand.

He also missed a push to Ben Halloran’s face by Jordi Alba in the 65th minute, but Halloran didn’t make a big deal out of it, either, and the referee probably didn’t see it.

His fitness was decent and his ARs seemed fine.

Not an overly inspiring refereeing performance, but sometimes that’s what you need.

Jonas Eriksson (Sweden), Cameroon v. Brazil
Eriksson put his foot down early, calling this game very tight. He gave the players some very stern looks right off the bat as the Cameroonian players tried to deal with Brazil’s speed by just tugging them backwards. He also gave some pretty impressive lectures.

He showed his first yellow card just over 10 minutes. It was definitely a foul but maybe a bit harsh as a yellow – and Marcelo made a meal of it – but Eriksson was clearly calling things tight.

His team did appear to miss offside on Fred on Brazil’s third goal, though.

Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan), Croatia v. Mexico
He started off in the first half allowing quite a bit of pushing and shoving, just giving free kicks and warnings, but showed his first yellow to Croatia before 10 minutes It was clear he was looking to stamp his authority on the match early. It was still a pretty physical match, but he never seemed out of control.

His yellow card to Rafael Marquez right before the half seemed a bit soft to me; he appeared to get the ball and not the player, who went down in a dramatic heap anyway.

Both he and his assistants acted quickly to sort out a potential fight following a corner, and another one on the sidelines. They really did a great job of managing these aggressive players.

On the handball at 63, definitely a handball and a penalty, when you see it from in front of the defender. Until you see it from Irmatov’s perspective from the back, however. When you do, you can’t see the outstretched hands because the player’s body is blocking it and it looks like it hits him in the side (because the ball bounced off the arms and into his side and down). His ARs should have helped him there, but you really can’t hold that against him.

As for the red card at the very end to Ante Rebic, he really had no choice. Rebic came in high with his studs on a leg breaker that could have been a lot worse than it was. Irmatov didn’t hesitate.

Featured photo:


  • Bakary Gassama was very impressive. Surprised we’ve waited this long to see him. I like his style very much: cool, calm and collected. Never lets the spectators or players affect his decision making. Had a clear line and stuck to it. Foul detection was excellent as well. Well done Mr. Gassama and I hope we see much more of him.


  • Four very solid performances by four very good referees. Irmatov did pretty well in a really tough game. But I did think that he missed the handball/penalty for Mexico in the 2nd half. I fear that he is unlikely to take charge of the final this year. But I hope that we will see him again in 2018, and he will be back to his 2010 WC best.


  • Was Fred definitely offsides? He may have been behind the ball.


  • I think Gassame waited a little bit too long to pull the yellow card. When a player constantly does borderline fouls, the risk is growing that he seriously hurts the other player (never mind that this isn’t “physical” but extremely unsporting – the rule to pull yellow only by certain fouls exist to give the players the benefit of the doubt, not to give them the opportunity to constantly bully another player). He should at least have given a verbal warning after the third incident, and as far as I can tell, he didn’t.


  • You guys really think he was good??? Holland committed at least 26 counted fouls and one yellow card? The first half was everything for Holland. I’m not a chilean supporter, but I think Holland was to aggressive and the referee way permissive with them.


  • Pingback: World Cup Referees: Thursday, June 26 | PLAY THE ADVANTAGE

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