Thoughts on the Referees: Quarterfinals, Games 3 and 4
The refereeing performances on this second day of the quarterfinals were sure better than the first.
Nicola Rizzoli (Italy), Argentina v. Belgium
This is the second time Rizzoli (above) has had to step into the breach after a particularly rough outing for another referee. He followed Yuichi Nishimura’s opening day performance, and today he followed arguably one of the worst performances of the tournament – Carlos Velasco Carballo in Brazil v. Colombia.
But if you need a referee to right the ship, Rizzoli is your guy. Mostly because he really doesn’t give a shit what anyone else does or thinks.
He just does his thing, and he started doing it early; he blew his whistle in the first two minutes and immediately yelled at players for being too rough.
His fitness is pretty jaw-dropping, particularly for 42. Some of his sprints outstripped the younger players on the pitch.
Rizzoli did not stop play at 27 like Argentina wanted, because Angel Di Maria went down (not because of a challenge), but just waved play on. Anyone used to watching him in Serie A would not be surprised; he doesn’t stop play unless he has no other choice.
The yellow card to Hazard at 53 was the right call, I think. Hazard missed the ball and got the player, but the contact was light, so I think that’s why he chose the yellow and not the red.
There was a definitely strong challenge from Kompany on Lavezzi that he could have called, but let go, probably because it looked like Kompany got the ball from his angle. There was also some miscommunication between Rizzoli and his linesman over a Belgian offside at about 61.
The yellow card at 75 against Argentina was reasonable. In fact, none of the yellow cards he pulled out were outlandish.
His ARs – especially Renato Faverani – were particularly good. I rarely saw them make a poor offside call.
Overall, the worst you could say about him were some nitpicky things here or there. He ran a tight, effective, exciting game without ever once losing control.
Which was precisely what FIFA needed from him. Again.
Ravshan Irmatov, Uzbekistan – Netherlands v. Costa Rica
This isn’t the worst I’ve seen from Irmatov in this tournament. (How’s that for lukewarm praise?)
He does have some difficulty communicating with players, and his style doesn’t help with that any. His fitness is questionable; I don’t think he’s unfit but he’s rather slow. He did, however, seem winded about 40 minutes in.
Interestingly, he let several hard challenges on Arjen Robben go, and in fact called a free kick against Robben about halfway through the first half that was actually a foul on him by two Costa Rica players. Was he calling the game or calling by Robben’s reputation?
The yellow card to Costa Rica’s Michael Urmana at 51, though, was correct.
He missed a penalty for Costa Rica when Joel Campbell was literally pushed over from behind whilst controlling the ball in the box. Strangely, just a minute or so later, he called the exact same foul (again, against Campbell) outside the box. I don’t know why one was a foul and the other wasn’t. The culprit, Bruno Martins Indi, was yellow carded a few minutes later, but I still don’t understand why the penalty wasn’t given.
At 81, Costa Rica’s Gonzales hit the onrushing Robben with his arm and, while he went down easily per usual, it was a foul on Robben. The Costa Ricans were using hand motions to tell him it was a dive, but Irmatov wasn’t fooled that time and gave Robben a free kick.
There was another Costa Rican shout for a penalty in extra time, but I don’t think there was really all that much there.
At 100, Irmatov missed Martins Indi stamping on Bryan Ruiz. Ruiz called attention to it by staying down. The Dutch responded by finally kicking the ball out of play, only for Ruiz to bounce right back up with the referee’s help. Quite annoying, honestly.
He gave a handball against Costa Rica at 101 after Robben got in his face. Replays showed with certainty that it hit Junior Diaz in the back of his shoulder. Terrible call. Nothing came of it, but it was still a bad call.
His ARs were decent, though the final offside call on Robben right at the end of regular time did not appear to be correct.
In the end, I don’t think he impacted the game, even with the probable penalty miss. But I certainly thought, head to head, Rizzoli performed better.
Unfortunately, Netherlands moving on puts Bjorn Kuipers almost certainly out of the final, and depending on how FIFA play it, maybe out of the tournament.
That’s a shame, because it means the call will go to much lesser referees.
Featured photo: AP/Martin Meissner