Croatia Upset About Officiating in 3-1 Loss to Brazil

Croatia expressed displeasure over the officiating in a 3-1 loss to host country Brazil in the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 12.

Jun 13 2014, 3:45am CDT | by

Croatia Upset About Officiating in 3-1 Loss to Brazil
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Croatia expressed displeasure over the officiating in a 3-1 loss to host country Brazil in the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 12. 

More specifically, Yahoo! Sports' Martin Rogers says the Croatians are unhappy with Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura, whom they accused of favoritism: 

"Croatia defender Vedran Corluka launched into a spectacular verbal rant that accused controversial referee Yuichi Nishimiura of showing favoritism to Brazil following his team's 3-1 defeat to the host nation in the opening game of the World Cup.

"Corluka and his teammates were furious Nisihmura awarded  a penalty in the second half and claimed other teams in the World Cup should consider boycotting the tournament if what he described as an 'embarrassing' situation  carries on.

"'If this continues, I think no one should play against Brazil,' Corluka told Yahoo! Sports. 'We can just give them the World Cup and everyone can go home. (Nishimura) shouldn't be allowed to referee another game.'

"Croatia began the game strongly and took the lead when Brazil's Marcelo scored an own goal in the 11th minute, with Neymar equalizing for the hosts in the 27th. But the pivotal moment of the game came midway through the second half when Fred fell to the ground after the softest of touches from Dejan Lovren, and Nishimura inexpclicably pointed to the spot. Neymar converted the penalty and Brazil was on course for victory.

"'I think it is embarrassing,' Corluka said. 'It is embarrassing. Everyone who was watching saw that nothing happens. I didn't see anything. I saw a touch on (Fred's) body but (Lovren) didn't even pull him. (Nishimura) was keen to give the penalty.'

"'Everyone saw that,' Corluka added when asked if Nishimura had specifically favored Brazil. 'Not just the Croatia players. Every 50-50 decision goes to them. It was the opening of the World Cup and you expect something more.

"'I congratulate Brazil but they didn't deserve it today.'  

"Nishimura is well-respected in refereeing circles but has also been involved in some controversial moments. He angered Brazilians in 2010 when he issued a red card to Felipe Melo in its 2-1 quarterfinal defeat to the Netherlands. 

"And he was criticized during the African Cup of Nations in 2008 for failing to send off any Angola players who angrily and aggressively circled him during a game. 

"The Croatia camp criticized FIFA for appointing Nishimura, claiming it was unable to communicate with the 42-year-old as he does not have a strong command of English. 

"'I never saw in my life in a World Cup that a referee doesn't speak English,' Corluka said. 'I don't know how to say it. I think it is amazing that he speaks with the players in Japanese. It is ridiculous. He was speaking something in Japanese but no one could understand him because we don't have Japanese players. It is quite fascinating to be honest.'"

Corluka's coach, Niko Kovac, echoed his defender's sentiments, per ESPN FC: 

"Croatia coach Niko Kovac said his players 'better give it up now and go home' after Brazil were awarded what looked to be a soft, and crucial, penalty in their 3-1 win in the World Cup opening game. 

"With the match tied at 1-1 in the second half, Japanese official Yuichi Nishimura awarded Brazil a contentious spot-kick when striker Fred went down after a light touch from Crotia centre-back Dejan Lovren. 

"Kovac called the penalty 'ridiculous' and said Nishimura was not at the level to be a referee on the sport's biggest stage. 

"'If that was a penalty, we should be playing basketball,' Kovac said. 'Those kinds of fouls are penalised there. 

"'That is shameful. That is not a World Cup referee. He had one kind of criteria for them and another for us. The rules were not the same.'

"Even the home fans didn't think the incident deserved to be a penalty, according to Kovac. 

"'I don't think anybody, anywhere in the stadium, saw this as a penalty,' he said. 'If you continue like this you will have 100 penalties. I think 2.5 billion people watching on TV saw this was not a penalty. 

"'This was ridiculous and if we continue in this way we will have a circus. 

"'Fred is an 85-kilogram (187-pound) man and I don't believe he can be brought to the ground in such a manner.'

"Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari disagreed with Kovac's viewpoint.

"'Millions didn't see the penalty? The referee did and he said it was a penalty and they are the ones that must decide, Scolari said. 'We also think it was a penalty. I have seen it 10 times and I think it is a penalty.'" 

Croatia (0-1) will next take on Cameroon on June 18, according to 


Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.


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