The Daily Rumor: World Cup Referees

It’s definitely silly season in World Cup refereeing terms, with only three games left to go. Here are some of the totally unsubstantiated things I’m hearing.

Bjorn Kuipers is Out – Dutch media are reporting that Kuipers has been given his walking papers, due to the success of the Dutch side. This is really sad for me, because it really does mean that the best referee won’t be officiating. It happens, but it’s rather heartbreaking.

The List Has Been Made – This is total hearsay (now confirmed), but here’s apparently the list of guys that are staying:

  • Ravshan Irmatov (UZB)
  • Yuichi Nishimura (JPN)
  • Djamel Haimoudi (ALG)
  • Noumandiez Doue (CIV)
  • Marco Rodriguez (MEX)
  • Mark Geiger (USA)
  • Enrique Osses (CHI)
  • Carlos Vera (ECU)
  • Sandro Ricci (BRA)
  • Cuneyt Cakir (TUR)
  • Jonas Eriksson (SWE)
  • Pedro Proenca (POR)
  • Nicola Rizzoli (ITA)
  • Carlos Velasco Carballo (ESP)
  • Howard Webb (ENG)

If this is true, there are some real shockers on this list, including Carlos Velasco Carballo, whom everyone but FIFA apparently thought was horrid.

Note that just because a guy is on this list, doesn’t mean he’s a candidate for the final – they will need support referees and fourth officials. It also doesn’t mean he’s better than some of those guys who did go home; Dr. Felix Brych (above in red, walking off into the sunset) and Bjorn Kuipers are way better than Velasco and Nishimura,, but so are their national teams (Germany and Netherlands, respectively).

Two Officials are Match Fixers – The Daily Mail is doing their usual bang up investigative reporting <insert sarcasm here>, with dark rumors of two supposed match fixers amongst the World Cup referees. They don’t say who, how they found out, or what the officials supposedly did in this Cup.

Worse, they use two photographs to illustrate the stories, both of referees still in the picture and neither of whom I would think are even remote possibilities as match fixers: Pedro Proenca and Ravshan Irmatov. I highly doubt they’re the referees in question, but DM implies they are by showing them. (Or they just chose random referee photos without thinking of implications.) Hope they can prove that…

Mark Geiger is Already In – Shortly after Marco Rodriguez was appointed for the first semifinal (and Geiger the Fourth Official with him), a Costa Rican reporter “broke the news” that Geiger was already a done deal as referee for the second semifinal. Never mind that having two CONCACAF officials in the semis was problematic, or the logistical and security risks of getting Mr. Geiger to Sao Paulo the next day.

I guess we shall see…

Howard Webb is a Final Candidate but Velasco is the favorite – This is again from the Daily Mail. The bit about Webb isn’t quite completely mad. I wouldn’t say the odds are great, but I don’t doubt he’s in the mix.

As for Velasco, Neymar broke his back on Velasco’s watch. I would say even FIFA aren’t stupid enough to throw him into a stadium full of Brazilians for the final. But who knows?

Featured photo: FIFA


  • So if these rumors are true, Kuipers, Brych and Pitana are to leave because their country is in the semis, but Ricci is allowed to stay? Sure, he is a great ref and undoubtedly do great, but this would give at least an appearance of partiality from FIFA. This would be unacceptable. Especially when you send the other great refs home.


    • I can say the list is now confirmed.

      My guess is that one of Ricci or Kuipers had to go, and Ricci had the edge because of his country. He may get the final if they lose, or the third place match if they don’t.

      It sucks, particularly for Kuipers. We really will not have the best referee at the tournament anymore…


      • I don’t think I understand. Why would you have to choose to send either of them home. To avoid any impression of partiality FIFA should either send all of the semifinalists referees home, or none of them. Their image is already bad as is, and this doesn’t help.


        • Yes, well…they kept Carlos Velasco Carballo on the list after Neymar was horribly injured in a game in which CVC had absolutely zero control.

          I got nothing…


    • Sending Ricci home isn’t very far 😛


  • Strange that Ricci stays, although Brasil is in the last four.


    • Hometown favorite, no doubt. Even Brazil go through, they can use him in the third place game, perhaps.

      This is similar to what they did with Mark Clattenburg in the Olympics. (Not that Clatts didn’t deserve to be there, just his nationality gave him an edge.)


  • Ref observer in Brazil

    Well, I have another reading into it: Ricci stays because he is “already home”. News from Brazilian newspapers highlight a behind-the-scenes war between Brazilian national team officials (including Scolari) and FIFA re: biased refereeing after Nishimura’s blunder.
    This is the only reason I see for FIFA holding on to Velasco Carballo and Nishimura: to pick on the Brazilian delegation. Like they are all 10-year-olds fighting at the playground.


    • Wow. I hope you are not correct.

      But let’s not gloss over the fact that Ricci is a damn good referee who’s performed extremely well in this tournament. A further assignment would not be undeserving.


  • I feel kinda sorry for Nishimura, he had an overall solid game, just one crucial mistake. I’ve personally seen much more worse performances (Carballo x2, Roldan etc.) Disappointed he’s been frozen out, thus far.

    I agree re: Velasco Carballo, he should be on a flight home…


  • I think Ricci doesn’t have a chance to do the final. Either his own country is in the final or Germany who has beaten his country. FIFA used to think a referee will be against a country that has just beaten that referees country.


    • They have too few referees to do that.

      For what it’s worth, I think we’ll see a European today, Ricci for 3rd and another European for the final


  • Ref observer in Brazil

    Ricci has indeed been a positive surprise for us Brazilians. He’s been an average ref for years in League play. I’d like to see him in a GER-NED final.

    I also would like to see Kuipers in a BRA-ARG final, regardless of the fact that ARG would have then defeated NED…

    We are on the same page here. Btw, your blog absolutely rocks and your writing style is just about perfect.

    My take on WC recent assignments: putting politics aside (since we, outsiders, cannot help but be totally clueless on inner shennanigans), the committee must indeed be struggling for the final appointments since Kuipers is out of play for semis onwards and Webb for final.

    Cakir would be an Ok appointment for final, but he comes from a B-League. Regardless of the teams involved, I would just throw Rizzoli in there and hope for the best 🙂


    • Throwing Rizzoli at things does appear to be a successful problem solving technique. 😉

      And thanks for saying such nice things. I love doing it!


  • Perhaps they keep Carballo so that he has the opportunity to show that the incident in the game had nothing to do with him and their directive to go lightly with the cards, but with the irresponsible Colombians and the evil, evil player who deliberately broke someone’s back….(I really have the feeling that they plan to set him up as the fall guy for an incident, which could have been avoided).

    So I guess there is a chance that Webb will get the finals. He would certainly be a safe bet for a fair game.


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