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Referee boss addresses World Cup calls

By Liz Clarke
Declining to address the controversial call that denied the U.S. soccer team a potential game-winning goal against Slovenia, the head of FIFA's refereeing department on Monday gave high marks to the officiating of the World Cup to date while conceding that there have been some decisions "that we consider not good enough."

After falling behind by two goals and in danger of being bounced after the first round of the 32-team tournament, the U.S. squad rallied to draw even against Slovenia Friday and appeared to take the lead in the 85th minute on a goal by Maurice Edu. But referee Koman Coulibaly of Mali signaled that a foul had been committed just before the shot, disallowing the score.

According to referees interviewed following a referees' training session Monday at Pretoria, the officiating in that match hasn't yet been subject to the routine review that follows each World Cup match. Even after the review takes place, FIFA officials aren't expected to comment on the specific call or the performance of Coulibaly, who nonetheless was omitted Monday from the list of officials working the next round of matches.

More.....


Under questioning from reporters from numerous World Cup countries Monday, Jose-Maria Garcia-Aranda expressed confidence in his referees.

"All of them, as we saw and you can see in all the matches, they are very well prepared and they are ready--not only the referees from Europe [but] from all the confederations," Garcia-Aranda said.

Coulibaly, who is officiating a World Cup for the first time, would not identify the U.S. player he cited for a foul while more than a dozen Americans and Slovenes wrestled for position as Landon Donovan took the late corner kick. At least three Americans--Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley--were being held by Slovenian defenders at the time.

Asked whether the lack of an explanation harmed the credibility of soccer, Garcia-Aranda said: "The best players in the world--when they are on the field of play, they are doing wonderful things. But as well, they have mistakes. And I think the credibility of football is not, say, in doubt because the most important players in the world sometimes, instead of scoring a goal, [fail to score.]

"For the referees and for everybody involved, it's something very important. We know well all the referees. We know they are taking good decisions on the field of play. Some of them are not good decisions on the field of play. And this is the human. Let's say: Being natural. If all the decisions the referee takes are only good, then maybe we are not talking about human beings."

By Liz Clarke  |  June 21, 2010; 8:42 AM ET
Categories:  2010 World Cup , FIFA , U.S. men's national team  | Tags: 2010 World Cup, FIFA, U.S. team, referees  
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Comments

When the best players in the world make mistakes, they are asked about it by reporters. When referees make mistakes, it's all good.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 21, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

'Tis better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | June 21, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Never admit failure. That is how I got to the top.

Posted by: grubbsbl | June 21, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Practice this line, Coulibaly: "I don't recall."

Posted by: Reignking | June 21, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Pyongyang People's Leader headline...

Brave North Korea Triumph in Close Portugal Match

Posted by: Kev29 | June 21, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

And people around the world wonder why Americans hate FIFA and professional soccer so much. What a d-bag.

Posted by: futbolclif | June 21, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

@Reignking- nice touch.

Personally, I think the ref of the Germany-Serbia match was even worse, utterly killed any flow or life in that game. Germany isn't even a physical team this time around, and they got how many yellows? If we get this guy, we're screwed.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | June 21, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Typo-Dong derails North Korean printers. North Korea 7, Portugal 0

Posted by: rademaar | June 21, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Any updates on Findley's second card? That was an absolute joke and could/should easily be overturned. It's receiving less coverage than the BP oil spill. Yes, we can survive without Findley but that card was abysmal.

Posted by: biga116 | June 21, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, a sub is emerging at the Torre de Belem, prepared to fire on Lisboa.

Posted by: Reignking | June 21, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

The same principle applies to match officiating in every sport: no decision is better than wrong decision. Yes, it's impossible to always make the right call. But it is far from impossible to always avoid making the wrong call. If you don't see it, you don't call it. The official has to keep his own role thus limited. In fairness, in soccer, it is usually the horrible behavior of the players that throws the refs off of this principle.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | June 21, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

If the referee selection for the World Cup is like the UN or any other international organization, each country or part of the world probably has a claim to an allotment of positions. I would not be surprised if there were at least six officials in Europe alone that were rated higher then the one taking charge of the US match last week.

FIFA is lucky that "the call" was made against the US. There would probably have been riots in the street if it happened against any of a dozen other countries.

Posted by: searay28 | June 21, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Is the United States Congress the boss of FIFA? Because we need HEARINGS on this RIGHT NOW!

Posted by: OWNTF | June 21, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Goff, I need some clarification: ESPN reported over the weekend that Coulibaly received a poor rating. Garcia-Aranda suggests that no review of his performance has taken place.

Which is correct or what is not being said?

Posted by: edmundburke247 | June 21, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

And people around the world wonder why Americans hate FIFA and professional soccer so much. What a d-bag.

Posted by: futbolclif | June 21, 2010 9:33 AM

I often have serious problems with the attitudes and capabilities of officials in college basketball, the NFL, MLB, etc. But that's not really killing those sports here. Jim Joyce didn't kill baseball in Detroit.

Poor officiating is a problem everywhere. I think as the play in the World Cup has gotten both faster (after a turgid first week) and more physical, the referee's have not been able to keep up.

Posted by: Kev29 | June 21, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

I expect a tie for Switzerland today.

Posted by: Reignking | June 21, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

@ Godfather...you must understand, a "no-call" is a decision. The official decides there was no foul (or he saw no foul) - hence no call. Sometimes the "no-call" is the wrong decision.
From Yahoo Sports - Koman Coulibaly was left off FIFA’s list for the next batch of World Cup matches and the US-Algeria match will get highly experienced and respected Belgian referee Frank De Bleeckere. Full report:

http://g.sports.yahoo.com/soccer/world-cup/news/fifa-drops-referee-after-dropped-call--fbintl_ro-fifaref062110.html

Posted by: soccerman | June 21, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Jim Joyce was decent enough to go to the press and admit his mistake and apologize. I wish more officials in other sports would do the same. There is no reason why they can't give a press conference after a game and explain their actions. Coaches and managers are obligated to speak after a game, why not Refs?

Posted by: RedDevil1 | June 21, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I'm watching this match via gamecast -- sounds like the ref is card-happy.

Posted by: Reignking | June 21, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I expect a tie for Switzerland today.

Posted by: Reignking | June 21, 2010 10:15 AM

I'm remaining neutral on this subject...

Posted by: rademaar | June 21, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I don't like De Bleeckere, he's a frustrating ref. Never allows the a match to flow by calling every little infraction.

Posted by: RedDevil1 | June 21, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Red hot Chile peppers holes in Swiss defense.

Just gettin' it out of my system.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 21, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Congrats to the guy running espn's gamecast -- he knew a red was coming. And not a North Korean, either.

Posted by: Reignking | June 21, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

reddevil, I can't believe you know how a ref calls a game.

Posted by: Reignking | June 21, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

The bank accounts of these refs should be monitored. I think the Russian Mob just sent more money to the Mali ref then he will make in 50 lifetimes.

Posted by: nativedc | June 21, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Garcia-Aranda misses the point. The point is NOT that people expect the officials to get everything right. We understand they are human. All people want is some transparency. If the referee had simply come out and said that he saw Bocanegra hold the Slovenian player (or someone else), then yes, we would be upset, but we would have little to complain about other than we thought the ref was nuts. But by not coming out and explaining who the foul was on and why simply makes no sense.

Can you imagine an NFL or NBA official saying that there was a foul without identifying who the foul was on?

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | June 21, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Can you imagine an NFL or NBA official saying that there was a foul without identifying who the foul was on?

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | June 21, 2010 10:57 AM

*****************

Oh, he1l yes. Evey sport has had it's debacles, and very few demand that their officials defend their performance. Occasionally you get a stand up official (Jim Joyce), but that's extremely rare.

IMHO, instant replay has made officiating in Gridiron football a joke. The refs in the NFL and NCAA are spineless bunch who still can't get it right after looking at the replay.

I think NBA officiating is comedy, and we know it's been crooked.

Posted by: JkR- | June 21, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Can you imagine an NFL or NBA official saying that there was a foul without identifying who the foul was on?

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | June 21, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

------------------------------------------

No because those officials must identify the offending player and the nature of the foul. There is at least a semblance of accountability absent in soccer.

Posted by: Josh86 | June 21, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

"No because those officials must identify the offending player..."

Not really in the NFL. The number of the player is announced as a courtesy and has occasionally involved players not on the field, bench, or roster. The League Office will occasionally put out a correction, after they have viewed it a thousand times and got their stories straight, but you never hear from the official himself.

NBA officiating is so poor I refuse to use it as a standard for anything.

Posted by: JkR- | June 21, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Enough with the controversy. US would need a result, or help, even with 4 points.

Simple math, NOW: WIN AND IN.
LOSE AND OUT.

Any questions?

Didn't think so.

Posted by: wxdancer | June 21, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Insert obligatory mention of the fact that if Coulibaly had been calling a good game the US would have been playing short handed after the fifth minute.

I assume the referee's record shows him to be competent and better than competent - he's worked big games below the WC level before. But he certainly had a very bad couple of hours on Friday. It happens and there's no way to completely prevent it.

Scratch the second paragraph if his record shows he's a hack who got the slot on the basis of a political deal.

Posted by: zimbar | June 21, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

@wxdancer,

Yeah, one question: Tie and ?

Cmon, give me the simple math.

Posted by: benonthehill | June 21, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Enough with the controversy. US would need a result, or help, even with 4 points.

Simple math, NOW: WIN AND IN.
LOSE AND OUT.

Any questions?

Didn't think so.

Posted by: wxdancer

------------------------

Given that our two matches ended in draws and you don't address that scenario, I would humbly suggest that your post does, in fact, leave quite a few questions unanswered.

Posted by: PrinceBuster21 | June 21, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

"The Call" notwithstanding, the referees' jobs are made all the more difficult by the blatant cheating of the players. It's virtually impossible for one man, no matter how fit, to be close enough at all times to all plays to see everything that happens out there. The ARs have their own particular responsibilities which often don't allow them to help the referee out with other matters that may happen out of his view as well. And the 4th Official has to deal with bench behavior in addition to watching for a variety of misconduct that might happen out of the other officials' views. Until FIFA decides to crack down on the worst offenders the refs will continue to have a nearly impossible job.

Posted by: fedssocr | June 21, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Officials have made numerous critical mistakes in this World Cup. It's time to provide each coach 2 instant replay's per match to dispute cards and goals. This will clean up the game quickly.

Posted by: emyren | June 21, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Officials have made numerous critical mistakes in this World Cup. It's time to provide each coach 2 instant replay's per match to dispute cards and goals. This will clean up the game quickly.

Posted by: emyren | June 21, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Officials have made numerous critical mistakes in this World Cup. It's time to provide each coach 2 instant replays per match to dispute cards and goals. This will clean up the game quickly.

Posted by: emyren | June 21, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Officials have made too many critical game changing mistakes in this World Cup. It's time to give each coach 2 instant replays per match. That would clean up the game up quickly.

Posted by: emyren | June 21, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Each team should get 2 instant replays per match. What if this had happened in the final game of the World Cup? I can understand not reversing the call but the team should be able to get an explanation as to what foul was committed. I'm trying to get into soccer but this really makes me think the league is corrupt. I can't believe FIFA allows the ref to not explain his call. This isn't a small soccer league. This is the supposedly the most important contest in soccer. Maybe something like this needs to happen to Brazil so they will get knocked out of the tournament. If it's just the US complaining nothing will change

Posted by: Phillipbscott | June 21, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Garcia-Aranda totally didn't answer the question. There is NO reason why a ref shouldn't answer why he made a call. Garcia-Aranda doesn't have a good answer so he avoids it. Hey FIFA, FIX THE PROBLEM!!!

Posted by: bspence11 | June 21, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Think about the manhood of someone who fakes injury.

Soccer to many in the USA is a effeminate game, so when I see that sort of thing not punished by FIFA. So the ref makes a mistake in the game I can live with that.

However, what should happen is the player who faked it should be suspended for the next two games. One for making the innocent player get booted and one for punishment for faking.

The player who was ejected falsely should then have the card overturned.

Posted by: khornbeak | June 21, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

not sure how allowing teams 2 "reviews" per game would work. What can be challenged? Black and white issues like ball over the goal line, sure. Judgement calls by the referees? I don't see how those could be challenged exactly.

Posted by: fedssocr | June 21, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Double talk in poor english. It was like reading David Stern being channeled by Ghandi.

I no longer look to sports for examples of fairness, sportsmanship, courtesy or humanity for that matter Mr. Officialwhocan'tspeakenglishverywellguy.

Humanity is your go to move? Really? How very 'turn of the century' of you. The 20th century.

FIFA is crooked as a dollar sign.

I'm a futbol fan and the officiating factor infuriates me. It can be a pansy ass game sometimes when an official chooses to reward diving and faking and gives cards out based on the acting performance by these whiniest of players.

I'm certain World Cup referees hear more whining, complaining and outright lobbying than some other sports officials, but they are nearly wholly in control over the tone of play.

Koman Coulibaly is an abortion of an official, displaying extreme cowardice in the face of extreme ineptitude; Jim Joyce blew an easy call in Detroit that cost a major league pitcher a perfect game, but when confronted with evidence of his mistake he "manned up" and admitted he blew the call. Coulibaly still has yet to even acknowledge what call he made, let alone accept any responsibility or show any remorse. He likely abhors America, many non-Americans do, but why on his sports largest stage would you risk your credibility, just to show you're the boss.

The US deserves to move on to the knock-out stage and likely will if they display their true quality against Albania, but if they don't move on then Coulibaly's call kept one of the 16 best futbol sides in the world out of the final 16 of the World Cup. That is unacceptable.

Mr. Headupmybuttinchargeofofficiatingspeakingpoorenglish,
Please acknowledge Coulibaly's error, sooner rather than later, I saw that he was working another World Cup match as a 4th official. Even in this backup role Coulibaly brings a taint to the fine futbol being played. Let fans know that personal agendas of officials won't be tolerated. Because right now you kind of are tolerating it. Kind of looking bad too.

Posted by: damjammer | June 21, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Double talk in poor english. It was like reading David Stern being channeled by Ghandi.

I no longer look to sports for examples of fairness, sportsmanship, courtesy or humanity for that matter Mr. Officialwhocan'tspeakenglishverywellguy.

Humanity is your go to move? Really? How very 'turn of the century' of you. The 20th century.

FIFA is crooked as a dollar sign.

I'm a futbol fan and the officiating factor infuriates me. It can be a pansy ass game sometimes when an official chooses to reward diving and faking and gives cards out based on the acting performance by these whiniest of players.

I'm certain World Cup referees hear more whining, complaining and outright lobbying than some other sports officials, but they are nearly wholly in control over the tone of play.

Koman Coulibaly is an abortion of an official, displaying extreme cowardice in the face of extreme ineptitude; Jim Joyce blew an easy call in Detroit that cost a major league pitcher a perfect game, but when confronted with evidence of his mistake he "manned up" and admitted he blew the call. Coulibaly still has yet to even acknowledge what call he made, let alone accept any responsibility or show any remorse. He likely abhors America, many non-Americans do, but why on his sports largest stage would you risk your credibility, just to show you're the boss.

The US deserves to move on to the knock-out stage and likely will if they display their true quality against Albania, but if they don't move on then Coulibaly's call kept one of the 16 best futbol sides in the world out of the final 16 of the World Cup. That is unacceptable.

Mr. Headupmybuttinchargeofofficiatingspeakingpoorenglish,
Please acknowledge Coulibaly's error, sooner rather than later, I saw that he was working another World Cup match as a 4th official. Even in this backup role Coulibaly brings a taint to the fine futbol being played. Let fans know that personal agendas of officials won't be tolerated. Because right now you kind of are tolerating it. Kind of looking bad too.

Posted by: damjammer | June 21, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

As an ardent soccer fan I´m aware FIFA oficials wouldn´t have the time to watch a
a whole video taped game.
However, they could see some parts of it. Take for instance the way the referee who
acted during the Brazil-Ivory Coast match.
He definitely made several mistakes on his
arbitrary decisions. It gave me the impression he was not imparcial. Did Ivory
Coast patronized him and promised some return for his services? I´m just asking.
Thanks for the Washington Post to let me express my opinion.

Posted by: evio88 | June 21, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Part of the problem is that the game is almost impossible for one ref to handle, especially in crowded situations off free kicks. The NBA went to 3 officials after realizing that 2 weren't enough. As someone mentioned above, linesmen don't help - they can't be positioned properly to see everything.

I also think that post-match reviews and retroactive suspensions and fines would cut down on diving (e.g. the Ivory Coast player who baited the ref into giving Brazil's Kaka a 2nd yellow card.)

The general problem US fans have with FIFA is that we're used to sports leagues that at least try to adhere to fans' demands for openness, accountability, and fairness. Teams are held accountable for performance, and officials mostly are too. FIFA doesn't care because they don't have to - too much of the world is used to closed authoritarian government, and accept it in sports as well.

Posted by: pyrotech | June 21, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Controversial call may actually HELP U.S. Soccer and FIFA. http://vasoccernews.blogspot.com/2010/06/how-controversial-call-might-actually.html

Posted by: cwimmer77 | June 22, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

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