Referees under microscope at World Cup

Updated: Jun 23, 2010, 20:10 PM IST

Cape Town: The standard of refereeing at the
World Cup has inevitably come under the microscope, with some
controversial decisions and claims that some officials aren`t
up to the job.

Refereeing on the world`s biggest stage is a dream come
true, but it can also be a thankless task with players and
coaches free to lash out without the official able to answer
back.

FIFA appointed 30 referees from 28 countries for the
tournament and many have been praised for their fitness and
keeping their cards in their pockets, but some decisions have
been questioned.

One of the most high-profile came when Mali`s Koman
Coulibaly disallowed Maurice Edu`s goal for the United States
in the 85th minute of their 2-2 draw with Slovenia, denying
them a vital win and sparking an outcry in the United States.

South Africa coach Carlos Parreira, meanwhile, blasted
Swiss referee Massimo Busacca for reducing his team to 10 men
in their 3-0 loss to Uruguay that crippled their dream of
World Cup advancement.

"He is the worst referee in this competition," Parreira
said. "I hope we don`t see his face again in any game anymore.
He probably does not deserve to be here."

And on Monday, Switzerland defender Stephane Grichting
attacked Saudi Arabian referee Khalil Al Ghamdi who was in
charge of their 1-0 defeat against Chile which saw nine
bookings and a sending-off.

"At 11 against 11 we would have had a different match.
The problem was that we came up against a referee that week
in, week out is officiating in the first or second division,"
he said.

"But here he is at an international level and so he isn`t
up to the standard. And we saw that throughout the entire
game."

French referee Stephane Lannoy also came under fire for
sending off Brazil`s Kaka against the Ivory Coast, while he
allowed Luis Fabiano`s second goal to stand despite a clear
double handball.

To make matters worse, Lannoy was seen laughing with
Fabiano after the incident.

Nevertheless, FIFA`s head of refereeing Jose-Marcia
Garcia-Aranda told reporters that overall he was satisfied
with the performances, but also said mistakes were inevitable.

"We are trying to improve those decisions that we
consider are not good enough and for that reason we are
training every day," he said.

Referees are, of course, human, and it inevitably brings
up the question again of whether video technology should be
used.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has previously spoken out
against the use of cameras, arguing that they would interrupt
the flow of the game, although he appears to have softened his
stance more recently.

The pressure was turned up on Blatter following Thierry
Henry`s controversial handball which led to France`s
extra-time winner against the Republic of Ireland in their
World Cup qualifying play-off.

Concern has also been raised that referees need to do
more to protect the flair players of the tournament, like
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Portugal`s Ronaldo, who picked up a booking for diving in
their opening game, said the top stars need more protection
than they are currently getting.

"I don`t understand the decisions of the referees
sometimes," said Ronaldo. "They are supposed to protect the
best players."

Argentina coach Diego Maradona, meanwhile, urged referees
to do more to enforce fair play.

"This is football and not kung fu fighting. So I don`t
think yet we`ve seen the fair play we want to see," he said
after his captain Javier Mascherano was booked in their game
against South Korea.

Bureau Report

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