Thoughts on the Referees: Knockout Stage, Games 7 and 8

The final two games of the knockout stage showcased two pretty solid refereeing performances.

Jonas Eriksson (Sweden), Argentina v. Switzerland
Usual disclaimer: The Swiss are my boys and any referee starts at a disadvantage, even one of my favorites like Eriksson.

I must say, he does tower over pretty much everyone on the pitch, and he doesn’t take a lot of bull. His foul detection was really good, and he used his whistle and force of personality to maintain control.

There was a clear foul on Angel Di Maria in the first half from Admir Mehmedi and it was a bad one, too. Eriksson ran over like he was about to toss Mehmedi across the pitch, but his card stayed in his pocket. This was more evidence – to me – that referees are reluctant to show cards early, due to the new rules around accumulation. That should have been a yellow, honestly.

The yellow card at 35 to Granit Xhaka was reasonable for a hard body check. My guess is that it was also accumulation of fouls; he’d already been warned by Eriksson. The Argentina foul against Switzerland at 48 was given fairly, as was the free kick given at 60. I appreciated that he held the cards in those situations. The yellow card to Gelson Fernandes on Angel di Maria at 72 was also fair, as was the one at 89 to Argentina’s Rojo.

He didn’t get fooled by Valon Behrami’s blatant attempt to get Lionel Messi booked, lecturing them both to behave, and nothing more.

He did get in the Swiss way at least once, earning himself a talking to from Xherdan Shaqiri – which was kind of adorable, since Shaq comes up to about his waist.

Overall, I thought he did really well.

Djamel Haimoudi (Algeria), Belgium v. United States
I lost a ton of respect for Jurgen Klinsmann for his attacks on Haimoudi (above) before this match, for being both Algerian and French-speaking (suggesting that that somehow gave the French-speaking Belgians an edge). It’s a cheap tactic, and always seems a little desperate from a manager – as if he’s not only hoping to influence the referee’s calls, but giving himself an out when he loses.

Haimoudi seemed unperturbed. He simply ignored all the fuss around him and played his game. He played a couple of really good advantages early on.

He pulled his yellow card out – deservedly so – for Geoff Cameron at 17 minutes, something other referees were reluctant to do, even when it was clear as it was with Cameron. Similarly, the yellow at 41 to Vincent Kompany of Belgium did make sense.

Haimoudi did appear to break out his French with Marouane Fellaini right before halftime…but I don’t think it was very nice French.

Chris Wondolowski was apparently called offside in extra time, but did not appear to be. He missed the chip anyway.

Generally, Haimoudi balanced between letting the teams play and not letting things get out of hand.

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