Nicola Rizzoli

Edit James Peek

There was much controversy in the lead up to the world cup final with the selection of Nicola Rizzoli. Nicola was an ideal candidate for the colossal task having adjudicated the 2013 Champions League final, and had been a FIFA recognized referee since 2007. However, just two games prior, in the quarterfinals between Belgium and Argentina, he had been accused of favoring Argentina. In particular, the Belgian Head Coach Marc Wilmots came out and stated: “I don’t want to be a cry baby but I noticed the referee never gives fouls against Argentina. Every time something happens with Messi the referee gives him a free-kick.” This incensed many fans, and pushed the opinion of a  Blatter-Messi conspiracy, despite it being the Fifa head of referees’ (Massimo Busacca) decision. Furthermore the prior World Cup Final referee, Howard Webb, was not even considered because of the fact Argentina were involved and it may be too “sensitive”.

Nevertheless Rizzoli seemed to garner a balance in the hostile environment that was applaudable. Both sides will argue that players should have been sent off, but decisions went both teams’ ways. One major event that could have possibly altered the scoreline but not the outcome was not sending of Sergio Aguero after two notable bookable offenses. Similarly in Argentina’s favor, Schweinsteiger took much of the brunt of the physical game and Rizzoli failed to fully protect the player. Despite these events, it’s near impossible for the referee to have a perfect performance. What he did manage was to keep a pace to the game which allowed for great neutral viewing.

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