Thoughts on the Referee: Knockout Stages, Games 1 and 2

Two of Europe’s best – Howard Webb and Bjorn Kuipers – were out today, and both showed just why they’re one of the best.

Howard Webb (England), Brazil v. Chile
Big Howard had his game face on today, particularly after the ridiculous accusations of bias from Chilean players a day earlier.

Early on, he made it clear that he was not going to fall for the diving and gamesmanship. And he also was having none of their getting in his face. The Brazilians surrounded him once – none of them coming up past his shoulders – and he sent them away so imperiously that they just sort of sheepishly dispersed. It was quite funny.

He did have his hands full, though, with more fouls in this match than any other in the tournament. I think a less powerful personality might have lost control early.

His foul detection was good, but he refused to give borderline calls. This is very inline with what we know of Webb in the EPL; he prefers not to call a foul or take out his cards unless he has no other choice.

The Hulk penalty non-call before the 15 minute mark seemed a possible penalty, but the defender had only a light touch. I think that Howard thought that Hulk went down easily, and I would agree. With the ridiculous dive from Fred resulting in a penalty in their first game – and howls of referee bias towards the home country – this was a safe call.

The Chilean handball at 16 was deliberate and a no-brainer yellow card.

He made a good decision not giving Neymar the yellow card he was looking for against Arturo Vidal when Vidal made a clear challenge on him at 28 minutes. Neymar basically dived, flying over Vidal who didn’t even appear to touch him when he got the ball. Webb did award the free kick, though.

Hulk’s disallowed goal and yellow card at 54 was quite a tough call. I’ve seen it several times and it does appear that Hulk used part of his upper arm to control the ball. It was definitely high on the arm, but his arm was out, so that’s probably what persuaded the ref – who was behind the play – not to allow the goal.

In the second half, Brazil’s Jo went for a ball against the Chilean goalkeeper, and missed, catching him in the chest with his studs. It was a free kick and a yellow card, which seemed reasonable. However, we’ve seen three similar fouls punished with red cards, so it was an interesting call by Webb.

On another note: Neon green? Not Howard’s colour.

Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands), Colombia v. Uruguay
Like Webb, Kuipers is a no nonsense kind of referee, and he set out to establish control early. Kuipers also has a tendency not to call fouls unless he has to and keep his cards in his pockets (just like Webb) and this game was no different. He finally pulled his card out in the second half; again, not unusual for Kuipers.

The free kick call right on the edge of the box in Uruguay’s favor late in the first half was absolutely correct, and he showed restraint in not giving a yellow card.

He also handled it well when Diego Forlan and Mario Yepes got into it. He broke up the fight before it got too far, gave them a stern talking to and sent them on their way.

(ESPN announcer: “Two players with a combined age of 74…you’d think they’d know better!” Ha!)

There was a bit of a skirmish on the sidelines, even though the two players – including Pablo Almero of Colombia – weren’t really that upset with each other. It seemed like more of a misunderstanding than anything. (Almero tried to stop the play for some reason and got kicked, and then got a yellow card for his trouble.) The Uruguayan bench thought Almero was faking and apparently made that clear a bit too vociferously for Kuipers’ taste; he booked Diego Lugano from the bench.

His fitness looked okay, though I must say he looked a bit bedraggled by the end.

How do you think Webb and Kuipers did? Tell us below!


  • The Hulk-non-penality was the right call for the simple reason that he didn’t call a similiar sitiation for Chile either. I think the only situation in which he was dead-wrong was one free kick in the second half, but nothing came out of it either way, so no harm done.


  • But I do think the yellow card he gave Hulk was too much.

    For Kuipers I also noticed he looked a bit overheated at the end of the match.

    Overall, two great performances of the referees. The only reason that I don’t want to see Kuipers in the final is that I rather see the dutch team there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t know what the conditions were like (I assume horrid), but I was a little shocked when the camera panned to him in the last couple of minutes. I had noticed him slowing down of course, but I was like, “Dude, get that man a Gatorade…”

      And the Dutch are pretty much the only thing standing in his way at this point. 😉


  • For me the best shot of Webb was when Scolari was fulminating at him near the pitch, and Webb just turned his back to him only a couple of yards away from him.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Great performance by HW. I think he’s a serious contender again for the Final


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