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April 2021

World cup refereeing on a low level

By Walter Broeckx

A few times in the last few weeks I have seen the question coming up in the comment section: “I wonder what Walter has to say about that decision in the world cup?” But because of my one man embargo on Fifa and all what is connected to them I haven’t seen much football from the world cup.

Now of course I didn’t run away from my TV whenever there was football on it. And as I live in a house with still a few kids at home obviously when they were watching football I didn’t forbid them to see it. And I admit of course that on such occasions I looked at it. Hate Fifa, love the game as I have said before. So I did have seen a few things but not much. And what I have seen has made me sad at times.

Now let me say that before the world cup started I have been looking for declarations on how the refs would do the world cup. In the world cups in the past it was the start of implementing new rules and mostly stricter rules. Like a few world cups ago they ordered the refs to act strongly against that despicable wild tackle from behind. And ordered refs to give red cards for it. And blimey it did work. In most leagues in the world this tackle has been removed from the game, thank goodness.

But this time…they would take on the pulling and shoving when corners or free kicks had to be taken. Prevention was high on the list. And so we have seen refs even trying to look for two players standing close to each other to “prevent the blatant shirt pulling” and call the players over. And yet has there been a penalty given for this foul? Because after the ref doing his prevention show I have seen some blatant pulling and holding. Yet I didn’t hear of any penalty being given for it.

When trying to find something about the game plan from the refs I had the impression that the instruction was: be soft when it comes to handing out cards. And the secret instruction was of course: make sure that Brazil makes it to the last 4. Didn’t you let it feel to the refs that way, Mr. Busacca? And by the way did you know that Busacca’s main occupation was a pub owner? That was before FIFA promoted him for helping Barcelona in the Uefa CL as we might remember. Instant gratification.

So on came the first match and I looked at it with my eyes more fixed on my computer trying to find out who we had bought already (just joking – but was only looking with half an eye as they say it in my mother language). I turned off that half an eye when Brazil got their ludicrous penalty in their match against Croatia. The refs surely seemed to know what to do. I think Mr Blatter and Mr Busacca will have been very satisfied and will have had a good drink in Mr. Busacca his pub.

But apart from the fact that Brazil got what they wanted I noticed something else. And I was not alone in noticing this. On Friday 20 June one of my sons called me. And as he also is a referee we started talking about the world cup. And he said to me that he had noticed that the refs were amazingly soft when it came to punishing reckless tackles. And he said that he feared that we would see broken legs and other parts of human bodies being broken. I completely agreed with him based on the information I had seen in summaries of matches and when I saw short clips on twitter or facebook posted by friends of mine.

Accidents would happen. And my god did they happen? Yes, they sure did. My son and I predicted it 3 weeks ago and we were right. Now I could have missed a few things but from the back of my head I know of 3 broken legs, 1 broken jaw, one broken back,… and I haven’t followed it all.

Up to now we have had 60 matches. And 5 players who had something broken in those matches. This is far too much! This is criminal. And all because of the referees allowing too much. And as far as I know not one of the bone breakers has been banned! So it was not just the referees on the field who were poor but also something is completely wrong with the punishing system. The only time it worked was with the Suarez incident one could say.

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Referees allowed too much on the field and it was waiting for accidents to happen.  My son and I predicted it and it came as predicted. Now if we could see it, then why couldn’t Mr. Busacca see it? He should have called his refs over and ordered them to be more strict against reckless challenges. And you don’t have to wait till the leg is broken to give a red card. No a challenge that could result in broken legs should be punished with red cards!

But he didn’t do it apparently – or at least I didn’t see or hear of any change in how the referees did their matches. The kick-fest between Brazil and Colombia resulted in one of the main bill board boys being severely injured. I was half watching that match while doing some administration on my computer. And long before Neymar got injured another of my friends who is a referee started a comment on facebook in a referee group of which I am part of, asking if he was the only one who was getting annoyed by the behaviour of the referee in that match. Well my friends referees reacted in masses to agree with being annoyed.

The way the ref let things get out of hand because he was visibly afraid to hand out yellow or red cards resulted in Neymar finding himself in hospital. Now I don’t give a f*ck about who will win the world cup (but as the Germans have most Arsenal players on board I do hope they will come home as world champions now) and Fifa and their corrupt organisation and fascist methods. But what I don’t like and want to see is players being carried in hospital with severe injuries.

Mr. Busacca and a lot of his referees have let things get out of hand. And players feel it when referees are afraid of acting like they should. And then they will try to move the barriers of the laws. And will go in harder and certainly when too much nationalism is getting involved and making people doing what is needed for “their country”. The expression from the former Dutch coach Rinus Michels was very true at times. He once said in the seventies: football = war. And at times it was in this world cup. And we had the casualties that goes with a war.

In a way it is pathetic. Both in England and in Fifa they promoted a referee that was found with his hands in the till, as one might say when it comes to helping a certain team to victory. I hope it was a big coincidence that both times that referee did it against Arsenal. But both then got promoted to the highest job in the referee world in their country or in Fifa. And both gentlemen are seemingly not able to make sure that players are protected in the right way.

Is it because the other refs don’t listen to them as they know they have been passing lines a ref shouldn’t pass and thus have no natural authority that one should expect? Or is it that they instructed the refs that way and then it is getting close to criminal negligence.

I know there is blood on the money that Fifa will make from this tournament. Blood that shouldn’t have been spilled. If the refs had done their job in a proper way. Just as it happens in the PL.

From the Riley’s and the Busacca’s, save us Lord.*
* based on an old idiom in my mother tongue that was said in church in the times when the Vikings came to plunder our towns and the original expression was: from the Vikings, save us Lord.

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49 comments to World cup refereeing on a low level

  • Mick

    The leniency shown in this WC compared to last is reflected in the yellow card count, 241 in 2010 compared to 174 so far this year. The red card count is 17 2010 compared to 10 so far 2014.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Great but sad stats Mick. It completely underlines what I have seen, heard and noticed.
    The refs have carried out the instructions from their chief Mr. Busacca. He is the one responsible. He should go. Just as Riley should have been out of his current job.
    But don’t hold your breath. But the Neymar injury could backfire on Busacca. As for Riley he is still untouchable.

  • Fabian

    One of the most blatant referring is France against Nigeria. Matuidi deserved a red card for his reckless stamping on Nigerian midfielder Onazi which resulted in broken leg.
    Also Odewinge deserved to get a penalty against Evra for very blatant holding during a corner kick.
    I wonder if the American refree wouldn’t have given them if those fouls were the other round.

  • Gerry

    Yes, Walter, a sad state of affairs.

    It will be interesting if there are any noticeable changes in the ref’s attitude in the remaining 4 matches?
    Whilst I can agree that it was ‘desirable’ from a Fifa perspective to have the hosts get through to the final, the lax application of the laws of the game have been across the board. As have the farcical decisions, like the yellow card for Rodriguez in the last game?

    I think when it comes to the Brazil v Germany game, the crowd will be much more vocal on any cynical tackling, so perhaps we may see an early yellow card or two?

  • Mandy Dodd

    Agree with all said many refereeing performances a disgrace including Howard Webb for Chile Brazil. I am sure someone wants an all South American final but Germany good enough to prevent this so I fear for them a bit today. Wish ozil was not playing!

  • Nelson Wong

    Look at the Brazil VS Columia game…. They are not playing football. They are playing ruby or American football.

    Unless they give up pentalties and more cards, no one will care. Foul is part of the game plan.

  • AL

    There has been some terrible refereeing at this WC. I couldn’t believe it when another player was kicked in the head by a defender in the box who was trying to make a clearance, with a second defender barging into the player at the same time, and all he got was a penalty. Apart from the bad tackles there’s been some pretty poor decisions too, like the disqualified goals from Dos Santos, the last minute penalty against Ivory Coast, Croatia’s disallowed goal…too many poor decisions. At times it has felt like watching the epl.

  • bjtgooner

    Fully agree Walter, the ref standards have been very poor and this has been reflected in some teams behaving as sub-humans.

    As noted above Brazl kicked hell’s bells out of Columbia, were unpunished & Columbia then gave some illegal payback – not what we want in any game never mind in a WC spectacle.

    In addition to fouls and violent fouls there has been a lot of simulation, not just in the box but all over the pitch as teams attempt to seek an unfair advantage. Again this simulation has been largely unpunished.

  • AL

    Meant to say “and all he got was a corner….when it should have been a penalty at least”. Also Julio Cesar should have been sent off when he conceded that penalty.

  • Mick

    What makes matters worse is when you get ‘experts’ like Jason Cundy on Talksport yesterday excusing the slackening of standards in this world cup by saying the game has become ‘too soft’ nowadays. Why are idiots like this given a platform to spout their crap to the world. One of the downsides to free speech I suppose!

  • John

    Also, Holland have committed most fouls, our own favourite Dutch player (irony, in case of any doubt) has been lucky to escape a deserved red card and their most celebrated diver has taken this practice to a new and even more blatant level;…… all with the tolerance / connivance of referees.

  • oldgroover

    With all due respect, people are given a platform (like Talksport) “to spout their crap” for the same reason people are given a platform on Untold Arsenal. They have an opinion and are entitled to be heard. Some people actually might agree with the “experts”, so it doesn’t invalidate their opinion in any way that just as many others think they talk rubbish.
    I see crap here most days but much intelligent comment, and I agree with your assessment of Jason Cundy’s comments and as he probably gets paid for it think that he should be doing better.

  • AL

    Off topic
    Metro has twitter pics of shops in Spain selling suarez shirts with number 9 on it. That was Alexis Sanchez’s squad number. They also have an update saying Sanchez is flying into London today,after turning down huge bids that were made late yesterday by both juventus and Milan. Fingers crossed…

  • Quincy

    Even Joachim Low, the Germany coach, has come out and talked about this:

    “I hope the referee tomorrow, Mr Rodriguez from Mexico,will clamp down on things. That physical energy in the match against Colombia went beyond the limits in Europe. When I saw that match…in Europe, 22 players wouldn’t have ended that match. There were brutal fouls. People blocking opponents however they could. It was really exaggerated. That’s what we saw on the pitch, so I hope these really brutal and crude fouls are stopped, or we won’t see players like Messi, Ozil or Neymar, and we’ll just see players who go out to destroy.”

    It’s interesting to read the rest of the interview.

    And is the referee with ‘his hand caught in the till’ Riley? What’s the story there?

  • A comment on the foam – surely the way to do it, if you are going to use the foam, is mark the ball placement and then mark the 10yards and then get the players behind the line. Not get the players back 10 yards (9.1m) and then mark the line. Must be the way FIFA instructed them.

    Must agree that refereeing standard has been poor (or they are just doing what they are told)!

    I do also notice, free kicks are taking an awfully long time to take!

  • Must agree that refereeing standard has been poor (or they are just doing what they are told)!

    I do also notice, free kicks are taking an awfully long time to take!

    A comment on the foam – surely the way to do it, if you are going to use the foam, is mark the ball placement and then mark the 10yards and then get the players behind the line. Not get the players back 10 yards (9.1m) and then mark the line. Must be the way FIFA instructed them.

  • Sorry about duplicate post ! System told me it wasn’t accepted, then found it was

  • WalterBroeckx

    that expression is a bit of a mess up between English and my mother language. We use this for every act when “being caught in the act” and I referred to match 50 when he was caught cheating. Well for everyone with a pair of eyes and more than one brain cell it was clearly visible.

  • Mick

    Agreed, of course they are entitled to be heard and as I said ‘one of the downsides to free speech I suppose!’

  • Mick

    @Paul Southcott
    I agree re the foam lines, the way they do it now I am sure the wall finishes up less than the 10 yards.

  • Quincy

    John, someone posted on The Gaurdian comments section, that in terms of fouls per game, the actual ranking is as follows:

    1st) Brazil: 19.2 fouls per game
    4th) Netherlands: 18.2 fouls per game
    30th)Germany: 11.4 fouls per game
    31st)Argentina: 10.2 fouls per game

    Although I don’t know where either of you get the stats from. You can work it out from FIFA’s website, bt I don’t have the time right now:

    Of the teams left, it’s Brazil (96 fouls committed), Netherlands (91), Germany (57), Argentina (54). But of course, that’s the number of fouls that have been called, not the number of fouls actually committed.

  • Quincy

    Don’t worry Walter, the expression is exactly the same in English, “caught with his hand in the till”.

  • oldgroover

    Paul Southcroft
    re marking the foam line. If you draw the foam line and then shuffle the players back they are likely to break it up, and you can’t actually mark a line until you know how many are going to be in the wall, although you could estimate it I suppose. Also as it only lasts for a minute before dissolving it has to be done as close as possible (in time) to when the kick is taken.
    I was wondering if the foam from where the kick is taken could have any effect on the ball as I noticed in the earlier games the referee was making the kicker put the ball right up to the foam, but the kicker kept moving it back a little. Now there seems to be a few inches distance.

  • menace

    Amen to your little prayer Walter. The comments are all valid and cover the main symptoms of what we see in the matches. The origin of these are not the referees but Busacca’s paymasters. Those who ‘blatter’ football.

    Blatter is a new word that means to destroy while leeching all life and goodness.

    How corrupt football associations can survive in all the countries that are affiliated to the world cup is beyond words. When one sees how children have been abused by TV personalities, churchmen and politicians (the Lord works in mysterious ways) who have been and are being brought to ‘justice’. It beggars belief that football has not reacted sufficiently to clean its house.

  • AL

    Those stats are quite telling. I, and sure a few here too, have felt the Dutch and Brazil have been the two teams that benefitted the most from the bad refereeing at this WC, and your stats just confirm that. They have not had a single player sent off despite foul figures nearly double the next team , and have both benefitted from dubious penalties. I would hate to see these two in the final, they both don’t deserve to be in it.

  • Mandy Dodd

    the Germans have at times been cynical at worst, and streetwise at best over the years, they have mixed it up with the best of them, but on what I have seen of this WC, which is by no means all of it, I hope they win the tournament for the sake of the game as a whole. And not just because three of ours would return with medals and their heads held high
    Never thought I would say that about the Germans winning!
    They are probably the only team strong enough to overcome some of the opponents as well as the clear bias we have seen out there. And if they dont win it, still hope they eliminate Brazil this evening, if that leads to civil disobedience, FIFA and the Brazil Govt can take a long hard look at themselves in the unlikely event they are so inclined. But the threat of such things should not be sufficient to fix a whole tournament.
    My advice to the German team….their defenders will have to be very very careful how they tackle this evening

  • H Bo

    It’s distressing that during a World Cup with so many goals we have a topic which is based on the nastier side of the game I think your right that the referees are have a nightmare with decision not been backed up with cards appropriately and yes for the dangerous fouls but it’s the professional fouls that have just been totally ignored, yes it’s tactical and could even say part of the game but you get one and the second one is when you leave the pitch but this not the case and I feel that the attacking sides are being penalised which is what is causing me sleepless nights with many key gooners being at the tournament and some still there, think I’m gonna need a sleepathon after Sunday/Saturday depending on the Germans result today.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I see the site has an over-exuberant and unofficial referee of sorts who is mouthing and flashing all and sundry who give a differing view !
    And a more than liberal expression of foam – especially from his rabid mouth !
    Good to see that most of the AKBs not giving a shit and avoiding him like the plague .

  • Brickfields Gunners

    After landing my new job as a B&Q greeter, a good find for many retirees, I lasted less than a day ……

    About two hours into my first day on the job a very loud, decidedly unattractive, woman walked into the store along with her two kids, yelling obscenities at them all the way through the entrance.

    As I had been instructed, I said, pleasantly, “Good morning and welcome to B&Q. Nice children you have there. Are they twins?”

    The ugly woman stopped yelling long enough to say, “Don’t be bloody stupid. Of course they aren’t twins. The oldest one’s 9, and the other one’ s 7. Why the hell would you think they’re twins? Are you blind, or just stupid?”

    I replied, “I’m neither blind nor stupid, Madam.. I just couldn’t believe someone made love to you twice. Have a good day and thank you for shopping at B&Q.”

    My Supervisor said I probably wasn’t cut out for this line of work.

  • oldgroover

    Whats the source of the reference for the “hand in till ref” I can’t find anything anywhere on it.

  • bjtgooner


    1st comment – very astute.

    2nd comment – very funny! 🙂

  • bob

    “With all due respect, people are given a platform (like Talksport) “to spout their crap” for the same reason people are given a platform on Untold Arsenal. They have an opinion and are entitled to be heard.”
    Where’s the balance of views about the blatant WC refshite in your paid media? Those who pay for opinions stack the deck by exclusion of verbotten/ unwanted viewpoints. It’s obvious to anyone but opinions like you are expressing which pretend (willfully or blindly) there is a level playing field in the for-pay medja (bought and sold medja) that gives equal opportunity for all sides of a controversy. Where’s the balance of views? You can slate Untold Arsenal because it allows you to; you can’t slate the WC (WTFucker) medja because it does not. It is a false equivalency, your defense of that toxic realm.

  • bob

    “Whats the source of the reference for the “hand in till ref” I can’t find anything anywhere on it.”
    Whatever the source of that exact expression, the larger point is:
    What do you/we make of Bussacca’s promotion to the top directly after his performance vs AFC at Camp Nous in the blatant CL travesty? Do those details escape you? And what do you/we make of Riley’s promotion to the top after his performance vs AFC at Old Toilet with a few years of the blatant EPL travesty? Do those details escape you? How could referees capable of abetting/enabling/allowing (you decide on the term) the illegal violence at those two crime scenes be elevated to the top of their professions if impartial enforcement of the rules of the game were the criteria for advancement? And because this is not the prevailing criteria, what do you/we conclude about the state of the arts and crafts of the till-keepers and those they elevate?

  • bob

    ^”within a few years of….”

  • Quincy

    oldgroover, I’m surprised you couldn’t find anything. See for example:

    Though it does seem to be more of an American expression than a British one.

  • oldgroover

    I was merely asking the source of the referee info so that I could see who it was, that was all.
    As regards the content of the rest of your two posts, I have no thoughts at all, but might think about it when I have nothing better to do.

  • Nekuhan

    Thanks for your insight. You are the best one on these topics. Agree with your analysis because based on wisdom and long experience. WCs are tilted all the way since Havelange took over FIFA with Gen.Secretary Septic Blatter (latter / today president as well).
    Keep the excellent work up at Untold. All the best to your wife and yourself.

  • oldgroover

    I got your kind replies to my query and replied to it but our comments seem to have been deleted since.
    It’s not my day on here as I seem to be upsetting a number of people.
    Perhaps there’s a voodoo on using the MR name!

  • Pat

    I read Joachim Low’s comments about the refereeing and about violent conduct on the pitch, which seemed reasonable and were relayed in the paper without negative comment.

    Can you imagine the media reaction if Arsene Wenger had been the one saying those things?

  • Quincy

    Yes, it’s quite odd our comments were deleted.

  • bob

    Acutally, it’s not Gen.Secretary Septic Blatter but Septic Bladder. Just to correct the record. 🙂

  • AL

    Listening to Hansen shearer and ferdinand is quite a painful experience.

  • AL

    I haven’t seen so many goals and so much diving in 15 minutes, got to be a record.

  • Gord

    I don’t know about diving, but says Ozil got the assist on number 5! I gather 7 of the German squad have the flu.

  • AL

    Marcelo, Hulk, etc, diving all over the place. Brazil are being made to look what they really are, a better version of Stoke.

  • AL

    Hulk,Marcelo, Oscar,Fred,Maicon, all diving. This team is a disgrace. Can’t understand why the ref has not shown any of them a yellow card.

  • oldgroover

    Has anybody been carded for diving at the whole tournament?
    This has been the worst exhibition of simulation that I’ve seen in a long time, and they’re pretty shit at football too.

  • omgarsenal

    I well remember the comment from a famous Brazilian footballer who pointed out that no South American team has ever won the WC in Europe and vice versa. It is hard to believe that these officials are supposed to represent the 7 best from their countries. However, the selection of officials for the FIFA list is as political as it is professional and one FIFA referee told me, its not who you know but who you blow that gets you the big appointments (FIFA, EUFA, National level, big games, etc. do the wrong thing, in the ¨competent authorities¨eyes and your career can come to a shuddering halt. Kiss the necessary butt(s) and the sky is the limit.
    Most FIFA officials are competent,and a few are even good but this WC is definitive proof that there is something very weak in the officials’ tactical preparations, mental preparedness, interpretation of the important laws, respect for the players and concern for their safety etc.
    The referee situation is a direct reflection of the twisted and controversial priorities starting at the top (FIFA)and right down to the FA level.
    Brazil just exited in total disgrace after a horribly humiliating thumping at the hands of Germany, 7-1! It seems that some teams just don’t turn up when it counts and one has to wonder why. I think this was a one off thing with Brazil but I have seen terrible games (Italy-England)where neither team seemed interested in actually putting on a show but went through the motions. Contrast that with the Costa Ricans who were running on empty but did their best against Holland, or the Belgians who gave everyone a real fight.
    This WC has been a disappointment to me, except for Germany…who naturally have the most Arsenal players in their side!

  • omgarsenal
    Re those Arsenal players in the German squad, it looks like they’ll be late back for pre season now and if the usual pattern is followed they may miss the start of the Premiership and CL qualifications.