Croatia defender hits out at penalty `scandal`

AFP| Last Updated: Jun 13, 2014, 12:35 PM IST

Sao Paulo: Furious Croatia defender Dejan Lovren branded the penalty awarded against him during Brazil`s 3-1 win in the World Cup opener a "scandal", questioning the referee`s right to be officiating at the showpiece event.

Unfancied Croatia took a shock lead when Marcelo put the ball into his own net early in the Group A match before Neymar levelled in front of a jubilant crowd in the Corinthians Arena.
But the European side were holding their own in the second half until Japanese ref Yuichi Nishimura pointed to the spot after Fred backed into Lovren and fell.

"I think this referee didn`t deserve to be here," said the Southampton player. "I don`t know for what he deserved to be here. It`s really disappointing for us because I think we were playing a good game against a big team, Brazil.

"Two billion people I think saw that it was not a penalty. I didn`t touch him."

"We`re really disappointed but what can you do against 12 players? You can`t do anything," he added.

"I`m sad, that`s it, because we played a good match and the referee -- it wasn`t a mistake, it was a scandal. It`s a scandal for everyone, it`s a scandal for FIFA. I think this referee shouldn`t be at this World Cup."

Frustrated Croatia coach Niko Kovac said the referee was "out of his depth" but his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Felipe Scolari was adamant Nishimura was correct to award the spot kick converted by Neymar to make the score 2-1.

"If anybody saw that was a penalty, let them raise their hand. I cannot raise my hand, I didn`t see it," said Kovac.

"If you continue in this vein then there will be 100 penalties during this World Cup."