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Croatia accuse referee of Brazil bias

ESPN staff
June 13, 2014 « Van Gaal welcomes United distractions | WILL TEST Rashid's burst takes Yorkshire top »
Brazilian fans enjoy hosts' winning start

Croatia coach Niko Kovac has accused the referee of the World Cup's opening game of bias towards hosts Brazil and warned such a level of officiating could turn the tournament into a circus.

He was furious after Brazil were awarded what looked to be a soft penalty by Japanese official Yuichi Nishimura in their 3-1 win on Thursday night when Fred went down after a light touch from Dejan Lovren .

"If that was a penalty, we should be playing basketball," Kovac said. "Those kinds of fouls are penalised there.

The official's view

The controversial penalty claim © Getty Images
  • Former Premier League referee Peter Walton claims the referee simply got it wrong in awarding the spot-kick appealed for by Brazil's Fred. "While we can see the slightest of contact between the two players, I would deem the contact to be incidental," said the former official who now works for an organisation providing referees for the MLS.
  • "This is not enough in my opinion to warrant a free kick or in this instance, a penalty. I would be disappointed if one of my referees awarded a penalty on a similar play."

"That is shameful, this is not a World Cup referee. He had one kind of criteria for them and another for us. The rules were not the same.

"I don't think anybody, anywhere in the stadium, saw this as a penalty. If you continue like this you will have 100 penalties. I think 2.5 billion people watching on TV saw this was not a penalty.

"This was ridiculous and if we continue in this way we will have a circus."

Southampton's Lovren, who is said to be a target for Liverpool, was also disgusted by the decision and claimed the Japanese referee should not have been selected.

"I don't know for what he deserved to be here," Lovren said. "It's really disappointing for us because we were playing a good game against a big team. Two billion people I think saw that it was not a penalty. I didn't touch him.

"We're really disappointed but what can you do against 12 players? You can't do anything. I'm sad, that's it, because we played a good match and the referee - it wasn't a mistake, it was a scandal."

Croatia team-mate Vedran Corluka branded the decision "embarrassing" but Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari backed the referee's call.

"Millions didn't see the penalty? The referee did and he said it was a penalty and they are the ones that must decide," Scolari said. "We also think it was a penalty. I have seen it 10 times and I think it is a penalty."

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