14 June 2014 | News Comments

Referees chief backs under-fire Nishimura

FIFA referees chief Massimo Busacca has come to the defence of under-fire official Yuichi Nishimura and said it was "a fantasy" to suggest he had favoured hosts Brazil.

The fall-out from the World Cup opening game's high-profile refereeing blunder continued on Friday with Croatia's players questioning the appointment of the Japanese official for the match against hosts Brazil.

Nishimura awarded a penalty against Dejan Lovren despite the Southampton defender barely touching Brazil striker Fred - the scores were 1-1 at the time and Brazil went on to win 3-1.

Busacca insisted there had been some contact between Lovren and Fred even if it was minimal.

He told a news conference in Rio De Janeiro: "You think about the decision, you don't have time to think 'ah, but I am in Brazil'. A human cannot think four times in one second.

"This is fantasy. I am sorry to say this, but this is fantasy.
"We have to believe the referees are honest, and respect them. Maybe there will be mistakes, but we must respect them.

"In refereeing, we have black and white but we also have cases that can be on the borderline.

"Yesterday, we can discuss; was it enough (contact)? Yes or no?

"On the pitch, the referee takes a decision in less than one second. He is concentrated on the gesture and when you see the hands doing something, it's difficult to arrive at one conclusion.

"The left hand touched and then also the right. If you play with the hands out, the referee sees that clearly and decides one way."

Thierry Weil, FIFA's marketing director, also rejected suggestions of bias.

In response to a question, he said: "You are pretending something I cannot accept. You are pretending FIFA is helping the home country, and that is not even the case.

"FIFA has nothing to favour the home country. We are here to make the tournament good."

"We have to believe the referees are honest, and respect them. Maybe there will be mistakes, but we must respect them" - referees chief Massimo Busacca

Such a controversy was the last thing that World Cup organisers wanted - and will fuel calls for FIFA president Sepp Blatter's proposal for challenges via TV replays to be approved.

FA general secretary Alex Horne, a board member of the International FA Board which rules on law changes, had said hours before the Brazil v Croatia match in Sao Paulo that a high-profile blunder could provide impetus for Blatter's proposal for managers to be allowed two challenges a match.

Horne told Press Association Sport: "Don't underestimate the power of circumstance.

"If we get something happening in the next three or four weeks that is blindingly obvious - like Frank Lampard's 'goal that wasn't a goal' in Bloemfontein - then that could give this real momentum."

Nishimura is an experienced referee who was fourth official for the 2010 final, but Croatia's former Tottenham defender Vedran Corluka questioned why he was appointed for this game, claiming no one could understand him - though it is a requirement for World Cup referees to speak English.

Corluka said: "I never saw in my life that a referee doesn't speak English. He was speaking something in Japanese but no one could understand him.

"The decision to award the penalty was embarrassing and it changed the game."

Croatia coach Niko Kovac said Nishimura had been "out of his depth" and Lovren added that if the hosts Brazil were to be favoured in such a way the organisers could just award the trophy to them now.

He said: "Of course I am angry. I wanted to cry but what can you do? If it is like this, then you can give the World Cup directly to Brazil."

Croatia face Cameroon in Manaus on Wednesday in their next Group A match.