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Referee for Brazil – Colombia quarterfinal under heavy criticism

Jul 5, 2014, 10:11 AM EDT

Neymar's injury was the main story for Brazil, as their star man was ruled out. AP

It comes as little surprise that Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo has come under heavy fire after his officiating in Brazil’s 2-1 win over Colombia on Friday night.

The referee, known as a strict disciplinarian in La Liga matches, showed a marked reluctance to reach for his cards. Carballo blew his whistle for 54 fouls, the highest total in the World Cup thus far, yet only showed four yellow cards. But many of those watching felt the referee had lost control of the game, particularly as several harsh tackles went unpunished. It also looked as though Brazil were deliberately targeting Colombia playmaker James Rodríguez.

This all culminated in one of the saddest events of the World Cup. In the 88th minute, a frustrated Juan Zúñiga launched a heavy challenge at Neymar. The Brazilian was carried from the field on a stretcher, and it was later revealed that he would miss the rest of the tournament with a broken vertebra.

It was no surprise, then, that Hulk spoke out about the officiating, suggesting that his teammate is constantly targeted: “Every time is like this, players always come after Neymar, the referees need to do more to keep this from happening.”

But while Colombia manager José Pékerman refused to place the blame on Carballo, saying instead that it is not easy to referee such a high-intensity match, Radamel Falcao was not shy in expressing his frustration. The injured Colombia star took to his Twitter account, writing “For the next match, remember to call the referee, who today didn’t show up” :

While it is unknown whether FIFA will take action against Carballo, it’s clear the damage has already been done. Both Colombia and Neymar are out of the World Cup. What might have happened had the official remembered that he was, in fact, in charge of the game?

  1. skunksprayjim - Jul 5, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    Maybe if these guys didnt flop and dive so much it would be easier to distinguish what a penalty is and isn’t.

    • scoochpooch - Jul 5, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      Exactly. This is what tarnishes the World Cup compared to Euro. South American and Asian teams just fall/dive at the slightest breeze.

  2. baldeagle2020 - Jul 5, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    As much as it is sad for a young player like neymar to get this blow, and bad injury and miss the world cup . But he has a reputation of always going down in excruciating pain in every tackle . Thats why nobody ( including the ref ) thought too much of the tackle that injured him .
    I wish him quick recovery nonetheless..

  3. gmkr1979 - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    This was a game that got out of hand very quickly. Brazil knew James was untested when it came to being physical, and when they saw that the ref was not doing anything about it, it got worse as the game progressed. Colombia retaliated naturally to protect and defend their teammate, like baseball when someone gets hit intentionally. Of course, I don’t approve Zuñiga doing what he did, and he didn’t mean to do it that maliciously, but this all goes down to the officiating. Had he controlled the match from the very beginning, the fouls, and perhaps the game itself, would’ve been very different. FIFA is reluctant to do anything, but this has got to stop! I feel very bad for Neymar. No one deserves to leave the game that way. Again, like any sport, where refs don’t eject players for being intentionally hit (baseball), or fouled hard going to the rim and not being called (basketball), or checked into the boards hard (hockey), or leading your head with your helmet and knocking the player out of the game (NFL football), these injuries can ruin a player’s career, if not, their life, with permanent injuries! It’ll be interesting to see the Netherlands-Costa Rica game and see how it’ll be with the officiating after yesterday’s embarrassment of officiating.

  4. dkalev - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    Brazil seemed to be more interested in breaking legs than playing, can’t blame Colombia for second half retaliation… I do not believe Zuniga intended to break neymars c3 , and I’m sure FIFA will ban him as well for touching one of their two prized possession (alongside Leo), but Brazil shouldn’t talk big, they were downright vicious… Anywho, this is a blessing in disguise for Neymar; now he can’t be blamed when Brazil loses on home soil, and will still be viewed as a hero

  5. paperlions - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:46 AM

    As easy as it is to blame the referee for “losing control of the match”, it was the PLAYERS that made the choices that lead to the physical play and hard tackles. Just because a referee is being a little lenient on bookings because of previous yellows by players on each side and the intensity and importance of the match does not absolve the players who chose to take advantage of it and play a hard physical game. The players choose to escalate the physical play. Yes, I realize that it is the job to control such things….but that wouldn’t be required if the players chose to make clean tackles, which they didn’t do either.

    • scoochpooch - Jul 5, 2014 at 3:18 PM

      ^^^Obviously never participated in any contact sport.

      • paperlions - Jul 5, 2014 at 3:27 PM

        Sure I have. I just never subscribed to the “be as dirty as you are allowed to be” school of play.

    • rmccleary97 - Jul 5, 2014 at 4:13 PM

      That’s great … in theory. Also in theory, we wouldn’t need the card system for rough play because players would be disciplined enough to call their own fouls and offsides, thus eliminating any need for any of the 4 on-field officials.

      Back in reality, players are not nearly as altruistic – which means we need a referee and two linesmen to help keep things in check.

  6. andreboy1 - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    He’ll have more time to try new hair styles now.

  7. scoochpooch - Jul 5, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    Expect Brazil to get even more calls since Neymar will be unable to play.

  8. sportsfan69 - Jul 5, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    Is Hulk going to fake another poke in the eye against Germany to get a free penalty kick for Brazil? Or is Brazil going to be allowed to have free passes for harsh tackles/trips to win the next game against Germany. I guess they’ll be able to hold Mueller and Orzil, because the loss of Neymar. Brazil is not allow to lose in the World Cup. They don’t have enough stars on their jerseys.

  9. jucam1 - Jul 5, 2014 at 10:24 PM

    Read the NY Times article, it clearly lays out how the ref let the Brazilians get away with insane fouls all game, the Colombians had to finally step up and play as horribly as the Brazilians were the whole game to make the game close. The Ref allowed this to turn in to a wrestling match after allowing Brasil to get away with murder. Blame FIFA and its awful attempts to fix a game, Brasil would have probably won any way. Zuñiga had no intention to hurt Neymar, the ball was in front of him and he had to go hard because that is what the ref turned the game in to. Everyone knows that this was clearly a reffing error if not a FIFA error. I’m tired of explaining what everyone globally has seen. I watched this game intently and this is the ref’s fault.

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