FIFA Sends Referees, Including Coulibaly, Larrionda, Home From World Cup

Soccer’s governing body sent home World Cup referee Koman Coulibaly, who disallowed a U.S. goal in the group stage, and officials responsible for errors in matches involving England and Mexico.

Coulibaly’s decision in the June 18 match sparked outrage among fans, and later rulings, including Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda’s denial of a goal by England’s Frank Lampard, prompted FIFA President Sepp Blatter to say his organization will review the need for technology to assist officials.

Coulibaly, Larrionda and Italian Roberto Rosetti were among referees not selected for the quarterfinals and beyond. As teams are eliminated and the number of games declines, FIFA keeps the officials who have rated highest. Nineteen crews are left in South Africa for the remaining eight matches.

“It was not five-star games for refereeing,” Blatter, who attended the England and Mexico defeats, told reporters in Johannesburg yesterday. “We will naturally take on board the discussion on technology and have the first opportunity in July.”

Blatter was in the stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa, three days ago as Larrionda and his linesmen didn’t give Lampard’s goal in England’s 4-1 loss to Germany. Video replays showed the shot went over the line after coming off the crossbar with the Germans leading 2-1 in the first half.

Offside Opener

Blatter was also in Johannesburg later that day as Rosetti and his crew allowed Argentina’s opening goal in a 3-1 win over Mexico even though replays on the stadium screen showed striker Carlos Tevez was offside.

The International Football Association Board, soccer’s lawmaking body, in March decided not to introduce goal-line technology. FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke said at the weekend that the use of technology “is not on the table.”

Coulibaly ruled out a strike from substitute Maurice Edu that would have given the U.S. a 3-2 lead over Slovenia in a match that finished 2-2. The Americans, who had come back from two goals down, surrounded the Malian referee, demanding an explanation. Replays showed the U.S. players weren’t offside, and there were no obvious fouls by Americans, although several were being held by Slovenian players.

It’s not the first time refereeing has come under scrutiny at the World Cup. Four years ago, English referee Graham Poll was sent home before the quarterfinals after mistakenly giving Croatia’s Josip Simunic three yellow cards during a match. He then quit international tournaments.

Triple Yellow

Poll’s mistake in Croatia’s 2-2 draw against Australia could have led to the game being replayed. He showed Simunic a second yellow card in the final 10 minutes but failed to follow the rules and give him a red card. Poll finally brandished a red card after the third yellow following the final whistle.

Poll’s error didn’t involve his judgment, and so could have been reviewed and overturned.

Among other controversies, Welsh referee Clive Thomas disallowed a goal by Zico at the 1978 World Cup, blowing the whistle for full time just before the Brazilian’s header entered the net. It could have been the winning goal against Sweden.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Elser in Cape Town at celser@bloomberg.net.

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