Thoughts on the Referee: Djamel Haimoudi in Brazil v. Netherlands

One of my favorite things about Djamel Haimoudi is that he always just looks so darn happy to be there. I mean I guess they all are, but Haimoudi just can’t hide his joy. It’s adorbs.

But, to quote myself after his first match, because of that: “I wish he’d done better.”

Or to quote my friend Mark:

“Fastest referee controversy ever.”

The penalty and yellow card at 2 minutes to Thiago Silva both set the tone for the match and put Netherlands ahead.

As always, Arjen Robben’s antics were center stage. There was a definite tug from Silva, but not enough to bring him down. But tugging Robben in the box is just stupid; you know he’s going to throw himself down.

I have seen video suggesting this was slightly outside the box when it started, but man…it was really close. It looks like the tug is just when he’s stepping on or across the line. I can see why Haimoudi called it.

One big question was whether the card should have been red, since Robben would have been clear on goal. I think probably he didn’t have that much control over the ball when the tug occurred.

And, not to start any rumors, but I’ve seen several denial of goalscoring opportunities in this tournament, and every one received a yellow card. It has felt, in general, that referees in this tournament have actively avoided the “triple punishment”: penalty, sending off, suspension.

It’s also possible that Haimoudi was reluctant to send off Brazil’s captain with 88 minutes to play, and I kind of don’t blame him.

I have a lot of notes on this game, mostly how he missed almost every free kick or foul he gave. He literally was giving free kicks to guys who tripped over their own feet. All in all, it started to get boring. In fact, it would probably have been easier to list the calls he did get right; much shorter list.

He didn’t have the best of games, let’s put it that way. At least he was using his cards, unlike pretty much every other referee in this World Cup.

He’s quite fit, though. Those are some serious deltoids…

So, this will be the third time in this World Cup that poor old Nicola Rizzoli has had to follow a not-so-stellar performance.

Good thing the Honey Badger don’t care

Feature photo: USA Today


  • I love how the Laws of the Game were simply thrown out the window or interpreted in manner that best suited “Busacca’s way”.
    As far as I know, FIFA has not acted on doing away with “triple punishment”. It’s still there and it should have been applied by Haimoudi. Cards don’t come with game time restrictions. If an incident happens in the first 30 seconds or the last thirty seconds of a match. It is perfectly acceptable to show red. It shows that the referee has the guts to do the right thing by following the Laws of the Game.


    • I’m not saying that FIFA did away with the triple punishment, and I hesitate to claim “directive” because I really don’t have any inside information.

      I just think it’s … strange … that with all the penalties given, no one has been sent off for DOGSO. Seems hella coincidental to me…


      • Other than today’s incident and of course Colombia’s Bacca against Brasil(Julio Cesar). I don’t really recall any other PK incidents that could have been considered DOGSO.
        I personally think that one of the the very few things that C.V. Carballo got right was him just showing yellow. In my opinion, David Luiz had recovered into a position where he would have been able to clear the ball. In today’s incident, considering Robben’s speed, control, and touch. He was clear on goal.


    • YoSiUsoLasTarjetas

      Nando, one can only wonder how much better the WC could have been if the referee’s had been allowed to officiate in the manner that was familiar to each individual referee. I mean weren’t they chosen due to their performances in the lead up to the WC?
      Unfortunately they all had to either bow down to “Busacca’s way” or get sent home like Joel Aguilar.
      One can only hope than in 4 years time M.B. has come to his senses or is gone.

      On a positive note, it’s so refreshing to watch the ref’s in U.C.L. and the E.L. handing out yellows and reds as they’re needed.


      • You see that in CL, though, too. They try and “standardize” the refereeing, and players often comment on how referees they’re used to officiate differently. I think it just went a step too far inBrazil, imho.


        • YoSiUsoLasTarjetas

          I don’t see it that way. It’s almost as if the teams and players get to know the style of each referee and adjust to it. To name a few, Proenca, Webb, Cakir, Kassai, Undiano Mallenco, and Skomina(he should’ve gone to Brasil instead of Mazic). They all have different styles that UEFA allows them to employ without sticking their noses in. And guess what? It works.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yeah, I remember Manchester United freaking the frack out when Cakir tossed Nani from a CL game for kicking a guy in the chest. I was like “You know he’s TURKISH, right?” He was going to call that all game long. Though I’m not sure how much that was his “style” and not just what any referee would do…but he’s still tough and Man U should have been prepared for it.


            • YoSiUsoLasTarjetas

              Excellent point you bring up. They must have thought that he was going to pull a “Webb” and only show yellow. However that play was a red here, there, and everywhere lol.

              Having followed the recently retired M.A. Rodriguez from the time he debuted. It was so very hard for me to watch him in Brasil. We here all know that he takes no prisoners and that he’s never been afraid to let the cards fly. However in Brasil he was handcuffed by the instructions. Even though he performed well, he never really looked comfortable in any of his matches. That Italy – Uruguay doesn’t get as ugly as it did if he’s allowed to ref the way he knows.

              Liked by 1 person

  • Honestly, that was in a way even worse referring than in the “Brazil/Columbia” game…the ref back then had no control, but at least his decisions made somewhat sense. But what was this? I didn’t even watch the whole game (I intended to, but the first ref decision soured my mood, plus, there wasn’t good football on the field either way from either team) so I did a little bit work in-between) but every time I turned around, there was another wrong call.

    The “highlights” were: The wrong penalty (the contact happened out of the box…Silva is a way too experienced player to do this inside of it, but Robben practically throw himself over the line upon contact) combined with the card issue.
    The second goal which resulted out of a clear offsite situation which wasn’t interrupted. (Honestly, I really felt sorry for the Brazil team).
    The yellow card for Gustavo for “diving”….that was really adding insult to injury. In this case, it was a clear fowl (and how the ref could believe that there was no contact when the Dutch defender is rolling on the floor out of pain because of his own idiotic actions is anyone’s guess). Brazil should have gotten a penalty for this one.
    The situation in which Robben got tackled, this time inside the box and for real…but the ref did nothing, which might have been a good thing, because he also missed that shortly before he got tackled, there was a hand play by Robben.

    I have never seen so many seemingly arbitrary decisions which did nothing but add even more confusion to an already chaotic game. Good thing that this one was mainly about the honour, it could have gotten really ugly otherwise.


  • Even though it was up to Haimoudi to show the correct color card. It was up to his AR to assist him on the location of the foul. The AR is running parallel to play as it happens. The AR has the best view of the play to determine the location. Well, atleast that is how we are instructed to work with our AR’s.


  • This was probably the worst performance of a referee during the WC. It as not just a couple of incidents – even decisive incidents – but an ongoing bad performance.
    One can disucss whether the foul on Robben ended in the box or not, but it definitely should have been a red card. Even Brazils defender Maxwell admitted that. He was glad the referee gave a PK and not a red card. It’s sheer nonsense to say that Robben threw himself in the box. Noway he could have stopped, taken a couple of steps back and fell to the ground before the line. He even fell backwards. That’s completely Robben-bashing. Most of the time Robben is exaggerating when he is fouled, but most players do so. And 99 out of 100 there is actually a foul on Robben. According to FIFA, Robben is in the top 5 players who have suffered most fouls per match. And I can imagine (in fact I know) – as a football player myself – that at such high speeds it’s hard to stay on your feets, even with light contacts.

    But further on team Haimoudi. Just some of the most decisive mistakes. They missed offside on the second Dutch goal (though it was only a foot) and missed some more offsides. They missed an elbow of David Luiz against de Guzman. Haimoudi looked glad there was a substitution at that same moments, so he could shift attention to that. They missed the elbow of Maxwell against Kuyt (resulting in a bloody wound). They missed the penalty for Brazil when Blind stepped on Oscar’s foor.

    So Jenna, I do agree: “I wish he’d done better.”


    • I agree with you on most counts.

      But I’m sorry, when I sit and watch Robben (and I’m a very knowledgeable viewer) and think “If only he spent as much time trying to score as he does trying to get a penalty, he’d be the world’s best player”….

      There’s a problem.


    • By the way, everything you had listed I have in my notes. I just got to the point that it felt futile to list everything…


    • That’s Robben. He is the only player I know who can make a full-stop in the middle of the sprint. I have no idea how he does it, and I suspect it is part of the reason why he is hurt so often (that must really put a lot of strain on the body), but he does that all the time…unless he is close to the goal and feels the slightest touch. Then he suddenly has no control over his body whatsoever. I know that in full speed, there isn’t much needed to pull you down, but that’s simply ridiculous.


  • Robben is clearly over the line when he’s pulled down, and it can be argued that Robben’s cowardly flopping lost control of the ball, not the foul itself. I’d like to have seen what would have happened if he could have manned up for once in this tournament and stayed on his feet; maybe he could have gotten the red.

    Otherwise, Haimoudi struggled. Finally a yellow for simulation and it’s wrong! Then someone does an obvious simulation and he calls the foul. The ARs had two or three offside calls wrong. Glad this happened in consolation and not a real game.


    • I think, if Robben could have stayed on his feet, either of two options could have happened:

      1. Because of his unbalance he would not be able to controll the ball and he would have missed. In this case Haimoudi would not have blown for a PK or freekick and Thiage Silva would not have received a card.

      2. A variant on 1 is that Robben would have crashed into Julio Cesar resulting in a freekick for Brazil. Probably not a card for Robben for attacking the GK because it is to early in the match (but you never know).

      Reason for my assumption that Haimoudi would not have given a PK or freekick in case Robben would have managed to stay on his feet is that Haimoudi would have taken a save decision: foul was not that serious because Robben stayed on his feet. Because Robben fell it left him no choice.


  • Really bad.
    He lost it two minutes in.
    Not sending off Silva showed an absence of courage. That was a tactical foul, on a player with the ball at his feet 20 yards out and the keeper to beat. DOGSO was invented for situations like this. You can go back to the first PK of the tournament and see more courage, from a terrible decision issued with confidence.
    So he gives a Penalty Kick to try to cover up the failure to send off a player? NoNoNo! The foul clearly originates outside the box. Robben was spun before the line. Terrible placement. The decision caused me to ignore every other bit of ineptitude following.


  • I think it’s worth asking – since Haimoudi was a bit of a surprise choice to me – who he replaced.

    Was there a stronger referee from the Asian or African contingents (assuming this referee needed to come from that group) who could have been chosen?

    The choices would have been Irmatov (already had four matches), Nishimura or Doue. Shukralla, Williams and Gassama were sent home before the final four.


  • Let me politely disagree fundamentally with the general comment of the article, and its condoning tone. I think the referee really showed the match was way out of his league. He called a penalty, when the grabbing started and ended (release) OUTSIDE the area. The Assistant Referee ran to the corner post… not helping him at all. After that, well, it was a clear red card. There is nothing so picky to interpret here. The calculus is clear. No tugging, Robben would have easily had a chance to shoot to goal. We would never know now. Should have been foul–not penalty–and red card as big as the stadium.

    After that all went sadly sour for him. The second goal by the Dutch was an easy off-side–overlooked here in the original post. That’s two big big mistakes in such an important match. It would be enough to mark his refereeing as “terrible,” but also he–as correctly mentioned–missed almost every foul he called. I couldn’t see him “happy” or “cheerful” but actually out of his senses. Running everywhere. Nervous. Booking players for tiny or nonexistent things, and overlooking others.

    As has been said, this is one of the worse performances I’ve seen in a world cup–right after, perhaps, Webb in 2010’s final match.


    • So, let me be clear…in both cases where I spoke of Haimoudi’s happiness, it was the way he walked out onto the pitch with an expression of sheer joy on his face. I’m sorry, but I will never begrudge a man in that position the right to be overjoyed by it.

      Furthermore, as far as my “condoning tone”…

      You’re damn right.

      I don’t think he had a good game, but I’m not going to sit here and attack him. I built this site because I admire referees, not to bash them. To be credible, you have to be honest, and I have been. I’ve had several reports on referees during this Cup that were less than glowing, including this one.

      But I support and admire each and every one of them, including Djamel Haimoudi. The game wouldn’t exist without them and it’s a hard, hard, thankless job that oftentimes gets them nothing but grief even when they do their very best.

      Hell, there’s a case here in the US where a referee died after being hit by a player he red carded. Died. His kids have no father now because that man wanted to help people play the game we all love.

      There are plenty of other sites out there that exist just to take the piss out of referees; this isn’t one of them.

      Don’t like my “condoning tone”? Fair enough. Here’s the metaphorical door.

      And for my readers who are referees:

      Thank you.



    • PS…If the above smack down is not clear, I won’t approve any further comments that seem to be only bashing Haimoudi and don’t add anything to the conversation.

      Play nice, people.


  • I realize now that you have only a romanticized reading of our job. (I remind you I AM A PRO. REFEREE from Argentina). So, staring now, I’ll stop commenting on your very sensitive blog. Tomorrow this is over anyways. I am only interested in you reading this and getting the message. No need to post it or anything. Go on with your admiration for HOWARD WEBB…. the worse referee I’ve ever seen. Elizondo… now THAT was a freaking good referee. Check again his record in 2006 WC. Bye Jenna and good luck with your things.


    • Okay…mean as this is…I’m posting it anyway, because…

      Best sign off EVER:

      “Good luck with your THINGS.”

      I’m totally gonna use that at work.

      Ah, to be twelve again…


      • I love how everybody that comments on any ref blog happens to be a pro ref. Am I the only one that does youth, High School and Sunday morning leagues? 😉 While I don’t always agree with your views I commend you for always keeping it lively and fun! I only watched 20 mins of the game, and knew then Haimoudi wasn’t having a good one, but from the comfort of our armchairs we can all debate about somebody being offside by a foot. Wonder how many times I had to make that call and got it wrong! One last note, I do agree that Webb is overrated, but never saw you “drooling” over him as other bloggers do. I think Kuipers, Vera or even O’Leary could be doing the final, but politics rule in FIFA, so let’s wish the best to Rizzoli today!


    • YoSiUsoLasTarjetas

      After browsing throughout the site. I like how she goes out of her way to defend the ref’s she considers “hotties” while allowing the “notties”(Haimoudi) to get slam dunked. Just find it funny lol


      • Sort of an odd thing to say on a post where I got ripped to pieces for defending the “nottie” (or at least not attacking him enough for the reader’s taste).

        And where I complimented him on his deltoids…


        • YoSiUsoLasTarjetas

          I’ve been reading your awesome blog for a while now. But just now started commenting. And I guess my reply is more based on that comments were deleted in other sections. I know that “Nando” posted a few comments to include a pic and then all of a sudden, poof they were gone lol.


          • Yeah, I got sick of that and nuked them.

            My blog, my rules.

            Way I look at it, you disagree with me and want to trash referees or hate on me? Fine. Go start your own blog, put the effort into it that I do and trash away. I don’t have to let you do that on mine…


            • Also, just FYI, I sometimes will pull down an entire thread if there are inappropriate comments within it, rather than try and pick or choose amongst commenters. If I’m not mistaken (there were a LOT of comments here during the WC), that’s what happened in that thread.


              • YoSiUsoLasTarjetas

                Yeah I bet there were Jenna. The “new instructions” ensured that you had a load of comments coming your way after every match.


  • Jenna, sorry that some other readers above haven’t been particularly nice or constructive in this debate, so I will endevour to provide a calm and fair analysis of the performance.

    Having said that, Hamoudi and his team were not particularly good today. Even if you ignore the debatable penalty/no penalty for Robben, it was one of the most blatant DOGSOs that I have ever seen.

    In fact, (I usually hate people who say thins like this but …) I don’t think that Hamoudi liked Robben very much. Not only did he not send off Silva for the DOGSO, but he cautioned Robben after HE was fouled by Luiz. And then in the 67′ minute, he gave a ludicrous free kick against Robben for nothing.

    Hamoudi didn’t really seem to be thinking about free kicks before he gave them. I mean they were often completely wrong, but I did like his enthusiasm for playing advantages.

    The Oscar “dive” was pretty amazing. It was the first caution for simulation of the WC this year, but it was completely wrong. Yes, you could argue that Oscar was “looking for the contact”, but that doesn’t mean that there was no foul!

    Anyway, in all a disappointing climax to Hamoudi & co.’s world cup, having been quite solid save this performance.


  • Nicole, if you are a professional referee, then you must know that DH screwed up and then went from bad to worse. The foul is committed and finished outside the box. Robben clearly dives in the box. (1st Yellow). Everyone knows he does it. After he gets up he clearly is calling on the referee to issue a red card. (Mandatory Yellow) In my opinion Silva Yellow for unsporting conduct, Robben Yellow for asking the ref to issue a card and direct free for pulling the player from where the incident took place i.e. 1 yard outside the box and everyone would have been happy. He later books Robben for diving when he clearly was pulled to the ground and should have given Robben another free. When you do any of your training modules every Year, the videos are of professional referees making mistakes and you are asked what was the correct course of action. The problem Worldwide is inconsistency in the profession. I am not knocking the referee, I am saying they all had a bad game, it happens. I am saying that the Assessors at the match would have, or should have, straightened all four of them out at half time but that does not seem to be the case. If the top of the profession can’t get it right all the time….. If the referee and his assistants have a good game tonight then great and let the profession learn to be consistent.


    • It was mostly the number of wrong decision in this game which bothered me…it’s not even that the ref was necessarily helping one particular side (though I guess Brazil suffered the more game changing injustices), but that his decisions were completely off the mark most of the time, meaning that not only he, but also the assist refs were not up to the task. That he doesn’t see a handplay after a long ball (or the tackle after) – that can happen, he can’t run faster than the ball. But the assist ref should have seen what really happened.

      Perhaps they should have at least paired him with two experienced AR’s.

      The best solution would be professional refs either way.


      • My understanding, and I don’t know how well it was enforced, is that the referees this year had to be “professional”, though you’d assume a guy like Howard Webb or Nicola Rizzoli, who make hundreds of thousands a year in fees, probably are on the upper end of the spectrum of “professional”

        So Im not sure that’s a solution.


        • What I meant is that the fifa should employ a staff of referees for their tournaments, one which doesn’t constantly change. This way you can train them for the tournaments all year long. And instead of doing this strange picks based on countries, they should simply pick based on experience and performance.


          • I’d like to see referees being able to cross country lines during the year, like players do. Let the leagues compete for referees of different nationalities like clubs do.

            Right now, the best and most consistent experience lives in UEFA and the big four… It hamstrings refs from smaller leagues.


  • One more, it is completely ridiculous to state that that Robben dived in the box. Please try to fall backwards with a left turn when being in full sprint, without being pulled back. Even Brazils defender Maxwell admitted it should have been red for Silva, and please note the position of Maxwell on the posted footage of the incident. He is only a couple of yards behind Silva and Robben.

    And talking about consistency… You want to start giving yellow (to Robben) for asking for a card in match 63? If that had been done consistently, many matches would not have finished with 11 against 11.


    • I agree with you that it would have been ludicrous to think that any ref would have given a YC to a player for requesting a card, not in this World Cup, even though it is clearly stated in FIFA’s Advise to Referees (personally, I can’t stand players asking for cards) RC to Thiago, no doubt! inside or outside the 18. I still think that put put a flying act to make it a PK (AR is key to the ref’s decision on this one).Through the whole tournament Robben spent more time on the ground and asking for fouls than he should’ve, sometimes it worked (MEX) sometimes it didn’t (CRC) please compare to Messi when he had his shirt pulled i(in the box!!) in the last few minutes of the ARGvsNED game but kept going to put a cross. Hope we enjoy a great game by Rizzoli.


  • Hey guys, dont be so harsh towards the referee, despite loving the game and working hard on handling some good matches, he was attacked since the beginning of the World Cup for his origins, at times Klinsmann accused him of being a french speaker and possibly arriving to agreements with the Belgian players on the field, at other times he was accused of being an African born, I mean this is ridiculous!

    Let us better discuss FIFA directives to the referees before each match, I also have a feeling that Haimoudi didnt have the chance to work with the assistants of his choice, those appointed by FIFA were just awful!

    Hey, by the way Robben is a fine player, but what a professional diver! They use to call it opportunism (taking selfish advantage of circumstances ) in football nowadays!

    But by the end of the day Brazil should and must only blame itself for its own performance. Period.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think diving or taking advantage of real or supposed fouls is something of recent time.
      I remember German player Lothar Matthäus, apart from being a good player, being the master of dives. Your name makes me think of one of the worst dives ever by Rivaldo in 2002:
      Google for it and you will probably find more dives/schwalbes of Neymar and Christiano Ronaldo than off Robben. The only player who tries to stay on his feet most of the times is Messi (allthough he also showed some doubtfull moments during this tournament).

      Taking advantage of circumstances… I think the best dive was made by Chilean player Bryan Carrasco in a game against Ecuador. He took the hand of his opponent and hit mimself with it:


  • Worst performance I’ve seen this world cup. The penalty was doubtful, as Robben was not in the penalty area yet when he got tackled. However, it should definitely have been a red card: rules are rules, whether there’s 1 or 88 minutes left. The second goal by the Netherlands was slightly offside, but it was a close call, so he probably did the right thing by not flagging.

    Furthermore, the Netherlands should have been awarded a second penalty when Robben was pushed over in the penalty area later on (I don’t remember who did it). The replays showed that was a definite penalty.

    And then there’s the weird cards the referee gave. For serious tackles he gave no card (elbow to Kuyt) and then Robben suddenly got a yellow card for nothing. I do not think he was in favour of one team, he made mistakes on behalf of both sides. But aside from a few question marks, nothing influenced the game too much so it was definitely not as bad as we’ve seen (Nishimura). Just not a great game for Haimoudi, I felt sorry for him. Like you said, he was visibly happy to be there and I appreciated that.

    Kudos to Rizzoli, he did a great job in the final!


    • Oops I see I’m contradicting myself. The first sentence is over the top, like I said later, not thé worst, but I should have said one of the worse performances.

      Liked by 1 person

Tell us what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s