The opening game of the World Cup was shrouded in
controversy but the officials' boss said the referee
was 'permitted' to award the match-changing penalty
to the hosts
Fifa’s referees’ chief Massimo Busacca has defended
Japanese official Yuichi Nishimura following his widely-
criticised performance in the World Cup opener between
Brazil and Croatia.
Nishimura made a number of questionable decisions in the tie,
culminating in the awarding of a controversial penalty –
given against Croatia defender Dejan Lovren for an alleged
foul on Fred - from which Neymar put Brazil 2-1 up.
Neymar was also lucky to escape a red card for an elbow on
Luka Modric, while Croatia also had a goal from Ivan Perisic
chalked off for what the referee deemed to be a foul on
goalkeeper Julio Cesar by Ivica Olic.
Lovren later hit out, labelling Nishimura’s display “a scandal”
while the Southampton defender also claimed his side had
been up against 12 men in a match Brazil went on to win
Busacca, however, felt the referee was entitled to give the
penalty which changed the course of the game.
Speaking at Friday’s Fifa daily briefing, he said: “The referee
is concentrating on the situation and the gesture [of Lovren
putting his hands on Fred].
“How much was the gesture? How much was he really
holding? Black and white is something we can discuss. Many
say yes, many say no. It is important to keep your opinion.
“The referee had a very good position and from there he
saw. On the pitch he has one second to make the decision.
“Unfortunately, the referee is not the defender or the
attacker to understand or to know how much it was or was
not [a penalty].
“We made it clear we did not want to see holding. There was
contact. We are not here to discuss that. That’s why we
are working on prevention.
“[He made contact] with the left hand and the right hand. If
you make contact you permit the referee to go in one
Busacca refused to say whether Nishimura will miss any
World Cup games on the back of his performance.
“It is impossible to say, we have not fully analysed his
performance yet,” he added.
“The game is 90 minutes long, not just one situation.”