Complaining about the referee is commonplace within football circles, for both right and wrong reasons. It’s a big job to fill, they have to make the right decisions on one viewing and if they fail they are vilified, it’s a job that many don’t envy. They do take a lot of flak, with an alarming amount of it for the wrong reasons, but the way that some games have been refereed in this World Cup we have to question the standards that FIFA live by.
In what has been an excellent World Cup, we have seen some truly horrific decisions by referees. There are plenty of examples, the Fred dive that led to a Brazil penalty in the opening game, the two offside decisions in the next game, the amount of not given penalties and the Brazil/Columbia game that got out-of-hand too quickly. The sheer amount for such a quality tournament is pretty staggering and whilst there has been some good displays by referees, the majority have been below the standard necessary for the biggest sporting event in the world.
The most glaring deficiencies of the refereeing were shown in the Quarter Finals, where only the Argentina/Belgium game came without any real incident. In the first game, the linesman got the majority of decisions wrong including offside’s and fouls that were committed in front of them and not given. In the Brazil/Columbia game, the referee failed to control a feisty affair which led to the eventual injury to Neymar and in the Holland/Costa Rica game, a few penalty shouts were not given that should have been.
One contributing factor to this might not just be the standards of the referees, that could be a little difficult to call into question, but the quotas put out by FIFA that tell referees what they should be looking out for. With their minds focused on a certain area, they aren’t given the freedom to simply manage a football game like they should, instead they make sure they eliminate certain aspects and lose focus on just keeping a game from being officiated efficiently.
After this tournament, FIFA need to have a serious think on how they both select officials and what they tell them before a tournament begins. They should look to getting rid of simply having one referee per nation, whilst it might seem unfair we need simply the best referees available so that the amount of mistakes are reduced. They also need to allow officials to simply manage a game how it plays, if it’s a strong affair allow it to play out until it begins to get scrappy or endanger players then come down stronger to cut it out.
One of the biggest shames in this is that because of poor officiating, one of the most talented players in the tournament will play no further part. That’s something that should never happen, it’s a symbol to the distinctly average displays from officials and while there has been bright spots, the advantage played for the Swiss’ goal against Ecuador was very good, it’s not been good enough overall. Hopefully it doesn’t continue because a mistake in the final few games could overshadow one of the greatest World Cups in living memory.