Thoughts on the Referees: Day Fourteen

I only covered two matches today. If you watched the other matches, feel free to leave your thoughts on the referees below.

Nicola Rizzoli (Italy), Nigeria v. Argentina
Yes, I have an enormous schoolgirl crush on Nicola Rizzoli (above), but these are the days when he reminds us of what a great referee he is.

His fitness was great, allowing him great positioning (he has a tendency, at times, to get himself in the way).

The advantage he played right before Nigeria’s equalizer at five minutes was brilliant.

The teams allowed him to be more relaxed today, communicating calmly – if still expressively – and keeping things under control. He usually does keep control, even in the thorniest matches, but he has a tendency to lose his patience easily and start screaming at people; you can tell that’s not his preferred style, so it was nice to see him not have to pull that fiery persona out.

We did get to see his patented “Ohhh, poor you” face a couple of times, which is always fun.

One interesting thing was that Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Eneyama was seen for several minutes at the break, clowning around with Rizzoli, his two Italian ARs, and Norwegian fourth official Svein Oddvar Moen. Rizzoli was even seen to playfully bounce the ball off Eneyama’s chest. New Zealand referee Peter O’Leary was criticized for appearing to joke with Eneyama after the Bosnia Herzegovina match, but it’s clearly something he does with most referees. He was also seen joking with Lionel Messi after the latter narrowly missed a goal. He just seems like a jolly fellow.

Rizzoli did appear to miss a foul on Angel DiMaria in the second half, but overall his foul detection – and his performance – was good.

Nestor Pitana (Argentina), Honduras v. Switzerland

Per usual, I didn’t pay much attention to the referee in the Switzerland game. Fortunately, he didn’t give me too much to pay attention to.

His foul detection seemed off to me, mostly against Switzerland, but I’m terribly biased and was being plied with margaritas to keep me calm. So, who knows?

In about the 28th minute, Pitana did call a foul against us when video replay showed the Honduras man kicked his own player in the chest. Fortunately, nothing came of it. In fairness, he did appear to miss a very divey-looking fall by Switzerland’s Valon Behrami (who honestly doesn’t do that too often).

He did miss one obvious foul against Stefan Lichtsteiner when the Honduras player appeared to push him away. But Lichtsteiner was unperturbed and didn’t call attention to it.

Mostly, I didn’t hate him, so that must mean he did okay.

Note: There was a penalty shout from Honduras, and I did re-watch it. I, personally, didn’t think it was much of anything and the Honduras player threw himself down at a light touch, but again:

Swiss + Tequila = Wholly unreliable witness.

Yet, Pitana’s decision was immediate and forceful and he seemed sure of himself. I also don’t think it was out of character for the way he called the game.

Still searching for a good video, so if someone has one, do let me know. (I prefer a GIF or Vine; YouTube videos are being removed at an alarming rate.) The picture below (and still pictures aren’t a good indicator) doesn’t appear to show a ton of contact.


What did you think? Tell us below.


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