Jenna’s Thoughts: Potential Referees for World Cup Semifinals and Final

Now that we know who’s refereeing the quarterfinals, thoughts naturally turn to who will do the semifinals and the final.

The truth is, I’m terrible at guessing games, and I don’t understand the things FIFA do sometimes.

So, with those two things in mind, I decided not to try and make any predictions. Instead, I’ll just go through the 25 center referees and give you my thoughts on their chances.

Ravshan Irmatov, Uzbekistan – Quarterfinal assignment.
Yuichi Nishimura, Japan – Nishimura would be a very, very difficult call for a semi or final, because of the famous penalty in the first round that turned out to be a massive dive … though he performed better than it was made out to be. Since then, he’s only been the fourth official once. Lack of game time and probably a lack of confidence will keep him out as much as public perception.
Nawaf Shukralla, Bahrain – Has had a few good performances, but his odds of anything else are probably low.
Ben Williams, Australia – Williams has been progressively better in each of his three games, but I think his experience level will keep him from the last three games.

Noumandiez Doue, Ivory Coast – Fourth official in the quarterfinals. Probably not a candidate.
Bakary Gassama, Gambia – Has only had one match, oddly, though he was excellent in it. I would be surprised if FIFA appointed him to the semis or final with only one match in the tournament, but it’s hard to say.
Djamel Haimoudi, Algeria – Late knockout round match. Probably not a candidate.

Joel Aguilar, El Salvador – Did well in his matches. Could be a dark horse for at least the semis.
Mark Geiger, United States – Did very well in his first two games, and then had a really bad game in which a player had his leg broken and Geiger only gave a yellow card. Chances are, that photo of Onazi in a cast would haunt FIFA and Geiger if they tried to appoint him to the higher stages. That and general lack of experience probably rules him out.
Marco Rodriguez Moreno, Mexico – Experienced referee who’s had good outings. Could be a candidate for a late match.

Enrique Osses, Chile – Decent performances in the tournament. Might be a dark horse but wouldn’t be expected.
Nestor Pitana, Argentina – Quarterfinal assignment.
Wilmar Roldan Peres, Colombia – Has had a good tournament, but his AR was sent home for wrongly disallowing two goals against Mexico. Not his fault, but it seems difficult for FIFA to give him one of the three final spots.
Sandro Ricci, Brazil – Undoubtedly one of the top three referees in the Cup, but it will depend on what happens with Brazil. If they go through, he will probably be given the other semifinal. If not, possibility for the final, particularly as the “hometown” ref.

Peter O’Leary, New Zealand – Last outing was so disastrous that there was a petition to have him removed from the tournament. Photos of him clowning around with winning Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Eneyama were innocent, but infuriated opposing fans. Hard to see him going forward.

Dr. Felix Brych, Germany – Dr. Dreamy has had a decent, but uninspiring performance in the Cup. Could see him as a fourth official, but I’d be surprised by anything else.
Cuneyt Cakir, Turkey – Cakir has done well and is well-loved by FIFA. Definite candidate.
Jonas Eriksson, Sweden – Late knockout round game, and fourth official in quarterfinals. Probably out.
Bjorn Kuipers, Netherlands – Best referee in the tournament, and probably best in the world. But like Ricci, much will depend on what the Netherlands do in their quarterfinal. If they win, he’ll probably get a semifinal. If not, I’d be surprised not to see him in the final.
Milorad Mazic, Serbia – Could be a dark horse for the final or a semi. Only a FIFA referee for a few years, but he’s the darling of Busacca and company. Caused a stir in Argentina v. Iran with a non-call, but still could be picked for at least a semi.
Pedro Proenca, Portugal – Late stage knockout rounds and decent performances. Could possibly take a late stage game, but I don’t think the odds are that high.
Nicola Rizzoli, Italy – Quarterfinal assignment.
Carlos Velasco Carballo, Spain – Quarterfinal assignment.
Howard Webb, England – Has been shockingly good in this tournament, and ran Brazil v. Chile like a boss. He could actually be in the mix for the final, if both Ricci and Kuipers’ teams make it to the semifinals. Obviously had the final in 2010, but there’s no rule against doing consecutive ones, and he would bring the most experience and gravitas outside of the Dutchman and Brazilian.

Featured photo (Bjorn Kuipers):



  • I hope the go for Webb….they should use the best for the finals.


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  • You forgot Vera.

    FIFA has avoided assigning referees to matches where the winner might play the referee’s home country in the next game. If this continues then Ricci wouldn’t be available for either semi should Brazil win today, same with Kuipers/NED. Cakir and Webb seem like definites. For a third, a CONCACAF ref (either Aguilar or Rodriguez)? CONCACAF doesn’t have a QF assignment. Nor does Africa, so perhaps Gassama gets the 3rd place game.


    • I’ve heard this, but I think it’s based on the situation where there were 33 referees instead of 25.The decision to cut the referee number has truly painted them into a corner, on multiple levels.

      If this were true, they would not use two excellent referees in the latter stages (including quarterfinals) and use some questionable ones.

      I don’t understand why they did it and I don’t pretend to understand FIFA.

      But I know if we see the likes of Irmatov (really?), Velasco and Cakir in the final eight games, and not Kuipers and Ricci, we’re not getting the best referees for these important matches. Full stop. And that’s a shame.


  • I don’t think Webb will get Germany – Brazil, as he had the latter in the R16, and won’t get a game involving the Dutch for obvious reasons (should they progress of course). So I’m looking at:

    Germany – Brazil: Cuneyt Cakir

    ARG – BEL/ NED – CRC: Sandro Ricci

    3rd place playoff: Howard Webb
    Final: Jonas Eriksson

    If the Dutch win tomorrow (which in all likelihood they will), then unfortunately for Kuipers, he’ll be on a flight home. Something tells me Busacca and co. will turn to the experienced Rodriguez…

    Webb it seems will be resigned to the 3rd playoff, or maybe Gassama, Shuralla or Vera will be rewarded for their good performances.

    We’ll see…


    • Why would Kuipers be on a flight home if Netherlands win, but not Ricci if Brazil do?


      • Very true Jenna, not thinking straight at this late hour 😉 I’ll swap Rodriguez for Ricci in that case.

        Germany – Brazil: Cuneyt Cakir

        ARG – BEL/ NED – CRC: Marco Rodriguez

        3rd place playoff: Howard Webb
        Final: Jonas Eriksson

        Kuipers and Ricci tad unfortunate…


        • At this point, I’m not willing to guess what FIFA will do. They’re as likely to put Geiger and O’Leary in the last two matches as they are to do anything else…

          I think actually a lot depends on how Rizzoli performs tomorrow. He has to right the ship, and by now he knows it…


  • Really was suprised to not see more of Gassama, after the know top referee’s I liked his style best. It is always a bit of a problem with the best referees usually coming from the best playing countries.


  • Think you went too easy on Columbian Peres. The error on the would-be corner kick assist was the center’s fault, not the AR’s. Center has to know who headed the ball and use logic to not disallow that goal. If it wasn’t headed by a Mexican, there CAN NOT be an offside or a goal disallowal..


  • Surprised that Webb is in the running – they’ve only given him two games so far both of which were strolls in the park. Clearly Chile don’t have as much clout as Holland when picking refs who presided over their defeats.


  • Dutch media says the FIFA has informed Kuipers that he will not be assigned to any matches on the WC 2014 anymore.


  • Ok, decisions have been made. Rodríguez for BRA-GER, and Cakir for ARG-NED. This leaves certain possible scenarios in my mind. But first, let me state that if any referee should get a second WC Final, that’s Irmatov, NOT Webb. Thus, Irmatov is an experienced, well-respected referee by FIFA and teams, so he could referee any match-up for the final. Having said that, if FIFA doesn’t use him for that, then let’s explore what I think could happen:

    1. ARG-BRA (final), FIFA would most probably assign an experienced ref. for such an epic battle. I’m going (100%) with Rizzoli (ITA). One of the best so far; he showed he can handle fouls and tempered players. Although I would have saved Cakir for the final, regardless of who gets there. He did a fantastic job in both of this games: especially in BRA-MEX.

    2. GER-NED (final), FIFA will most certainly assign Erickson (SWE). This would be an easy game in terms of fouls and handling of violent plays. Webb would be out of the picture, in my mind, for obvious reasons (the Dutch!).

    3. GER-ARG (final), FIFA could most probably assign Webb (ENG). One of the worst referees in the world, but don’t know why he is still liked by FIFA. He should have retired (in shame) after his WC final (NED-SPA) in 2010. I never liked him and he never gave any reason for me to change my mind. Can’t handle any game outside the English League…. where players referee themselves almost. Anyway.. I think they would use him for this match.

    4. BRA-NED (final), FIFA could assign Rizzoli or Erickson.

    What do you think??


    • I’m not willing to make predictions, other than that having Europeans in all three final matches doesn’t seem reasonable.

      I also not only disagree on Webb, but ask you to consider your tone…

      I also don’t see the love for Irmatov. He’s had four games and they’ve all featured multiple mistakes.But who knows with FIFA?


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