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Corluka: “Just give Brazil the World Cup and everyone can go home”

Jun 13, 2014, 7:41 AM EDT

Referee Yuichi Nishimura from Japan gives penalty kick against Croatia during the group A World Cup soccer match between Brazil and Croatia, during the opening game of the tournament, in the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, June 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Fabrizio Bensch, Pool) AP

Croatia defender Vedran Corluka spoke with a lot more force than the contact that drew a decisive penalty in his nation’s World Cup-opening loss to Brazil on Thursday.

Eventually losing 3-1 after a controversial-at-best penalty call against Dejan Lovren that drastically-altered the complexion of the game, Croatia was fuming at referee Yuichi Nishimura after the game.

The controversial incident came after a ball was played into the box, Brazilian striker Fred bodied up on Lovren before hitting the turf after what many would call minor upper body contact. Nishimura called the surprising penalty.

From Yahoo Sports’ Martin Rogers:

“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.”

“I think it is embarrassing. 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.”

The call was questionable at best. Now Croatia sits at the bottom of its group before Mexico and Cameroon complete Group A’s first set of matches on Friday afternoon, and has to wonder whether it could’ve shut down the hosts for another half-hour to gain a point or more.

RELATED: Dive, poor officiating get 2014 World Cup off to bad start

Corluka was also critical of Nishimura communicating with players in Japanese, and was baffled that an English-speaking referee wasn’t assigned to the match (German and English are the two most-common languages, other than Croatian, spoken in Croatia).

Croatia head coach Niko Kovac blasted the call:

“It’s ridiculous,” Croatia coach Niko Kovac said afterwards. “If we continue in this way, we will have a circus.”

“Brazil doesn’t need any help from the referees.”

Yet they received it, and a tournament watched by many received an inauspicious debut.

  1. patriotsdefense - Jun 13, 2014 at 8:17 AM

    It was a flop. His arms were already full exention flop mode before his rearend even touched the ground. He was begging for the call. Pathetic. I love football, but the embellishment ruins the sport for me. Brazil doesn’t need any help. They did not perform well yestarday and we didn’t need NBA style officiating to ensure the powerful rise.

  2. mightymightylafootball - Jun 13, 2014 at 8:46 AM

    “…Nishimura communicating with players in Japanese”


    I would have thought that all refs were *required* to speak in a commonly understood tongue (much like airline pilots are). How is that acceptable?

  3. lavatomy - Jun 13, 2014 at 9:02 AM

    Not the first time it happened and it wont be the last time a referee screws up in a World Cup

    • tridecagon - Jun 13, 2014 at 9:53 AM

      When the “screwups” all seem to favor the team that FIFA wants to win for marketing reasons, and when there’s known evidence of match-fixing being a major problem in world soccer….

      There’s no smoking gun, but as they say, “the evidence is consistent” with the officiating crew trying to influence this game.

      • lyleoross - Jun 13, 2014 at 10:05 AM

        You don’t need a conspiracy for these kinds of events, you just need crowd pressure. It takes an ultimately confident and almost arrogant individual to perform well under that pressure. Anything less and you are likely to end up with exactly what happened.

      • skipvanmeter - Jun 13, 2014 at 10:23 AM

        Yep. Remember the calls that went South Korea’s way when they hosted? I agree with tridecagon in that the crowd has a huge influence in how the game is called for the hosts. Croatia played it’s heart out yesterday and I can understand the bitterness. At the dame time if you are gonna play the hosts you have to decisively beat them. If a call is to be made it will go for the hosts.

      • awhayes - Jun 13, 2014 at 11:06 AM

        It is the Leslie Nielsen/Frank Drebin/Naked Gun theory of officiating (think baseball umpire scene). Referees aren’t robots so despite often claiming an ability to be objective, they are significantly influenced by crowds (there are actually academic studies that support this). Yesterday though, was a fairly egregious case of bias as the penalty was bad, the call against Olic was bad – but the worst call (or no-call) of the game was on Oscar’s came sealing goal when a Croatian player was mauled, thus freeing up the ball. Horrendous refereeing yesterday.

  4. savoirlaire - Jun 13, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    And Scolari actually defends it, repeatedly. As the saying goes, it is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought the fool than to open it and remove all doubt. What a disgraceful mockery!

  5. delegator - Jun 13, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    Agreed, it isn’t the first time and won’t be the last that a referee screws up. But it should be the last time in this world cup that THIS referee screws up. He should have sent Neymar off for that elbow, and he gifted the go-ahead goal to the home team. And did you see how he ran over to be close to the fans after pointing to the spot — it looked like he wanted backup for what he knew was a blatantly poor call.

    I am no conspiracy theorist — I come down more on the side of choking under pressure and favoring the home team. But if Nishimura officiates another match in Brazil then I will have to think Sepp Blatter is pulling strings.

    • wwsiralexd - Jun 13, 2014 at 10:56 AM

      Howard Webb allowed Dutch players to rape the Spanish players. He still officiates big matches.

    • timkvfp - Jun 13, 2014 at 11:28 AM

      I don’t necessarily agree with the call, but seriously, “he ran over to be close to the fans after pointing to the spot…”. Disagree but keep it factual.

      That is spot-on protocol for a referee after awarding a PK, correctly or incorrectly. From the referee guide to procedures:

      “Points clearly to the penalty mark and, unless needed elsewhere for game control purposes, moves to the edge of the penalty area near the goal line to discourage confrontation and dissent”

  6. some1kj - Jun 13, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    In F1 racing, when an incident involving drivers on the track or in the pits, it gets investigated immediately by an experienced panel and a penalty is imposed within minutes. The same concept can be applied to football. The panel will be made up of 2 experienced referees and a reputable senior player. An incident like a questionable dive, ala Suarez, can be quickly reviewed, and either be declared a penalty and let the goal stand or take away the goal and red card the player. This can also be applied to questionable off side decisions, or off the ball incidents like elbowing or kicking when the referee is not looking. This will surely clean up the game in major competitions like the World Cup, the Champions league, the European Championship, etc.

  7. godsholytrousers - Jun 13, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    FIFA = Fraud

    Brazil = FIFA’s Pets

  8. gritzblitz66 - Jun 13, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    I don’t think they can stop the game to review anything or they’ll end up having to review everything. I say FIFA gives out post game yellow and red cards(yellow for flops, red for flops that result in a penalty kick). When players have to start missing games they’ll clean up their act.

    • jdfsquared - Jun 13, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      FIFA has stated, I believe, that they don’t do this because it undermines the referees in-game authority. But I think that’s completely wrong-headed. FIFA should be more interested in getting it right, than protecting the officials. Having post-game consequences (along the lines of what the MLS disciplinary committee does) provides a disincentive for flopping. Why won’t they do that?

  9. herogoesallin - Jun 13, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    this world cup already stinks. brazil is not the fun soccer nation anymore.

  10. jdfsquared - Jun 13, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    I understand some level of journalistic objectivity is required, but I do not see how any objective observer could call that decision by the referee “questionable at best.”

    This is a missed call. Period. Fred flopped and the ref missed the call. We can argue subjectively over who’s responsible, and what this sort of thing means for the game. But where’s the question?

  11. rphillish - Jun 13, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    I never understand why people complain about this stuff. Drawing fouls is just a part of the sport, most any sport really. Is it the most “honorable” or most “sporting” tactic around? Probably not, but the only people who care about that kind of stuff are the losing team and their fans. It’s not like Croatia has never benefited from bad calls.

    As for a conspiracy, the home team getting beneficial calls isn’t some wide match fixing conspiracy, it’s just home field advantage.

    • beagle11 - Jun 13, 2014 at 6:26 PM

      Croatia is usually on the wrong end of bad calls. The penalty and the absurd disallowed goal are evidence of that. You can also point to Euro 12 when Jordi Alba dragged Corluka to the ground by his neck and shirt on a corner which lead to a goal on the other end that should have been flagged for offsides. It seems smaller countries with less tv’s and less coke drinkers always get the wrong end of bad calls.

  12. gvera7 - Jun 14, 2014 at 11:57 PM

    I’m surprised players and coaches don’t get penalized as heavily as the NBA and other American sports for talking about the refs haha

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