Thoughts on the Referees: Knockout Round, Games 3 and 4

Pedro Proenca (Portugal), Netherlands v. Mexico
As always when the Dutch play, this match threatened to descend into violence early. Proenca (above) is a good referee for that sort of thing. He doesn’t have the imposing visage of a Howard Webb or Bjorn Kuipers, nor does he have the temper of a Nicola Rizzoli. He’s just a very calm referee and he tends to talk a lot to the players, keeping control that way.

I must say his foul detection wasn’t as strong as I’ve seen from him. He missed a clear foul in the box by Robin Van Persie, who was defending, and beaten by Rafael Marquez. He just grabbed Marquez’ shirt and pulled him right down. Should have been a foul.

Mexico had a penalty shout turned down when the Oranje defender kicked the Mexican in the face. It does appear that, since the defender was going for the ball and the attacker put his head down at the same time, Proenca decided it was fair play.

There was clear contact – twice – in the box against Arjen Robben of Netherlands in first half extra time. It looked to me like a penalty, but Proenca did not call it. He had another no-call on a penalty shout from Arjen Robben around 67. He got that one right; there was no real contact.

Proenca did give Mexico coach Miguel Herrera a talking to about 10 minutes to the end of normal time. Not sure what for, but whatever Herrera was doing, Proenca didn’t like it and made it clear that he’d be in the stands if he did it again.

I’m afraid that the penalty call that won the game for the Dutch was probably correct. I don’t like it. I hate the way Robben dives in the box in general, and he clearly went down softly, even appearing to already be falling when Rafa Marquez stepped in. But Marquez did step on his foot in the box – missing the ball entirely – while Robben was arguably controlling the ball. Probably a penalty, but it’s kind of everything that’s wrong with football… (Though, as I said above, I do believe Robben should have had a legitimate penalty earlier.)

There were two cooling breaks, adding 5-6 minutes to the match, total.

After the match, poor Proenca had to stand there and listen to Herrera berate him after the match. (Herrera even pushed Robin Van Persie out of the way to do so, while Van Persie tried to shake the referee’s hand). He finally just turned away and let his assistants handle it, but I felt bad for him. He performed well, if not the best I’ve ever seen from him, and he shouldn’t have to go through that.

Ben Williams (Australia), Costa Rica v. Greece
Williams started out a little shaky in his first outing in this tournament, but he’s settled down quite nicely.

His fitness is excellent, even in such a long match as this one, which is impressive for a man who isn’t necessarily a full-time referee and took six months off his job with no pay to prepare for the World Cup on his own.

He played a couple of good advantages early and his foul detection in the first half was good.

His call at 21 minutes was very good; there was contact on Joel Campbell, but it was right outside the box.

He called a foul and gave a yellow card to Oscar Duarte of Colombia right on the box in about the 42nd minute. There was a little tug, so it seemed reasonable. The Yeltsin Tejeda yellow card right after the half for a strong challenge was also reasonable.

He and his team did miss a deliberate handball in the box from Greece – right after Costa Rica scored their first goal – that probably should have been a penalty and booking. He also shortly afterwards booked Costa Rica reserve goalkeeper Oscar Granados on the bench for something. Dissent, I assume; probably for complaining about the missed handball call.

The second yellow – and sending off – to Duarte at 66 was right. Duarte’s desperate lunge was a deliberate trip and kind of foolish with a yellow card already. Williams didn’t hesitate.

He definitely started cracking down in the second half, bringing out the cards more frequently.

Greek coach Fernando Santos was driving him nuts all game, and he finally sent him off right before the penalty shootout.

All in all, despite the missed handball, I thought Williams and his team performed admirably.


  • I think both referees performed less than Webb and Kuipers in the first two knockout games.
    Both Proenca and Williams missed a clear penalty.

    Robben suffered a double foul in first half extra time. I assume the first foul could have been missed by Proenca, but the second was quite clear. Offender Moreno even broke his shinbone in the contact with Robben.

    It’s sad but true, referees are allowed to make mistakes but shouldn’t miss those moments that could decide the matches. Both games probably would have been very different in case the penalties were awarded (and scored).

    Liked by 1 person

  • Just out of curiosity, because you have a good vision on the referees acting in the Worlcup, what is your top 3 referees for the final? And I mean based on performance and not on cuteness. 😀

    Chances for Kuipers are going down with Netherlands going to the quarter finals.
    I just don’t like Webb for some reason and he already had the final in 2010.
    Which other referee(s) are good candidates?


    • I actually did a recording on this for Ask Jenna ;), but here you go…

      Kuipers is hands down the best ref in the tournament, so it’s a shame about the Netherlands.

      Webb has actually been really solid. Right up there with Kuipers as far performances. I don’t know the rule for getting two finals, but with the smaller number of refs and the fact that many of the high performing refs still have teams playing, it’s not crazy to think.

      Sandro Ricci of Brazil is my next choice; we’ll see how he does today. He, unfortunately, has a similar problem to Kuipers. Marco Rodriguez of Mexico has done well, too, as has Nestor Pitana of Argentina (I don’t see him as final material, though).

      Of the dark horses for the final, I’d say Jonas Eriksson is one and so is Mark Geiger, though I just think the latter is a bit inexperienced in big tournament competition to be trusted with it. Eriksson at least has champions league experience.

      Rizzoli’s performed well (though I’ve seen him do better) and he’s probably one of the most experienced referees out there, next to Webb. With Italy out, he’s got to be a factor as well.


      • For the record, there is no rule about getting a second World Cup final. And this is the first time that the referee of the final has returned to the next tournament.

        As for candidates for the final, Kuipers and Webb have been very good so far. I think that Kuipers is the safest bet as such, with Cakir (TUR) the second best choice, Webb has a chance as well.
        At the end of the group stages I also had Geiger and Proenca in this category, but I’m afraid that their round of 16 performances may have killed their chances.

        The other options, or dark horses, have got to be Gassama (INT) and Shukralla (BRH), only because we have only seen one match from them so far. Aguilar (SAL) is another possibility.


        • There is no rule about two finals, it’s just never been done. But remember that they have fewer center refs this year, so less to work with. In the end, they may have no choice.

          I’d be surprised to see an Aguilar or Shukralla in the final. With all the complaints about the referees, I don’t think FIFA will want a dark horse on their biggest stage. They’re going to want someone they can trust.

          I have a feeling some people are rooting against the Netherlands in Zurich. 😉


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