Top ten worst refereeing decisions at the World Cup

This wasn’t an easy list, simply because we had too much material to work with. We feel these ten calls clearly irritated so many of our readers that they deserved ranking in our top ten list of worst refereeing decisions at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. If you think we have missed something or feel there is another decision worthy of mention please point it out in our comments section below:



1 - June 21, Match 27, Milorad Mazic (Serbia), Argentina 1, Iran 0: Backed by over 87,000 votes in our poll for worst referee, Mazic was at the centre of the tournament’s biggest refereeing controversy when he failed to award a penalty kick to Iranian striker Ashkan Dejagah, who was clearly tripped in the penalty area by opponent Pablo Zabaleta. Television replays clearly showed the Argentina defender missing the balls and taking out the legs of his opponent, but instead of pointing to the spot Mazic waved play and thereby determining Iran’s fate at the tournament.

2 - June 21, Match 29, Peter O’Leary (New Zealand), Nigeria 1, Bosnia-Herzegovina 0: Enraged Bosnia-Herzegovina fans had him the leader in our poll and casting over 16,000 votes against the Kiwi official who committed two of this year’s worst refereeing blunders both in the same match. His worst mistake? O’Leary and his linesman Jan Hendrik disallowed Edin Dzeko’s 21st minute goal ruling the Manchester City striker offside when it was clear he was in an onside position when he received the ball. That and another erroneous decision (see #10) precipitated Bosnia’s early exit from the tournament.

3 - June 24, Match 40, Carlos Vera (Ecuador), Greece 2, Ivory Coast 1: If the votes weren’t so overwhelming for O’Leary and Mazic we could have easily made Carlos Vera’s last-second spot kick decision for Greece in their 2-1 win over Ivory Coast the worst call of the tournament. It was clear that Georgios Samaras tripped over his own feet and there was no contact from second-half substitute Giovani Sio but instead Vera pointed to the spot for a penalty kick and essentially awarded victory to Greece and elimination to the Elephants from Ivory Coast.

4 - June 12, Match 1, Yuichi Nishimura (Japan), Brazil 3, Croatia 1: Nishimura completely changed the outcome of this match with a dubious penalty-kick decision after an obvious dive by Fred of Brazil. It was plainly clear there was minimal contact from defender Dejan Lovren but his opponent crashed to the ground as if he had been mugged and Nishimura wasted no time pointing  to the spot. The decision essentially scuttled Croatia’s World Cup dream and precipitating a nasty reaction from manager Niko Kovac.

5 - June 30, Match 53, Mark Geiger (United States), France 2, Nigeria 0: Up until this match Geiger was outdoing himself with solid performances but drew harsh criticism in this match after failing to punish France for a number of serious fouls. Geiger’s worst call came in the 39th minute on a Nigeria corner kick when French defender Patrice Evra put a full nelson wrestling hold on opponent Peter Odemwingie as the striker leaped for the ball. It is clear Geiger spotted the offence and even warned Evra about the grab after the ball went out of bounds but for some unknown reason the referee fails to point to the spot for a penalty kick.

6 - July 4, Match 58, Carlos Velasco Carballo (Spain), Brazil 2, Colombia 1:  In an ill-tempered match eventually won by the hosts Carballo did little to keep things from spiralling out of control with a tournament-ending injury to Brazilian star Neymar a prime example of the referee’s poor judgement. As Neymar attempted to control a high ball in the 88th minute of the match, Colombia defender Juan Zuniga crashed into the striker kneeing him in the back. Neymar is eventually stretchered off the field with the foul by his opponent breaking his Vertebrae. Carballo chose to wave play on when the foul occurred and Zuniga was never punished for his deliberate attempt to injure.

7 - July 12, Match 63, Djamel Haimoudi (Algeria), Netherlands 3, Brazil 0: The hosts’ swan song at the tournament started with a botched penalty-kick decision by our referee from Algeria who until this game had a solid performance at World Cup 2014. His decision to award Arjen Robben a penalty kick for a foul by Thiago Silva was clearly wrong as the defender’s grab on his opponent clearly occurred outside the penalty area. While the play was definitely worthy of a foul and a yellow card (possibly red), Haimoudi and his crew clearly got this decision horribly wrong when they pointed to the spot instead of awarding a free kick at the top of the Brazil penalty area.

8 - June 28, Match 49, Howard Webb (England), Brazil 0, Chile 0 (Brazil wins 3-2 on penalty kicks): The hosts of the tournament advanced after the Premier League official and his crew failed to order a retake of Mauricio Panilla’s penalty kick after it was clear Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar had moved early. The Toronto FC goalkeeper clearly moved forward off of his line to stop his opponent in the first of his two game-winning saves. The rules clearly state a keeper is free to move side-to-side before the penalty kick is taken but is prohibited from any forward motion off his goal line until the ball is kicked. Webb and his crew clearly missed the boat on this one.

9 - July 9, Match 62, Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey) Argentina 0, Netherlands 0 (Argentina wins 4-2 on penalty kicks): As was the trend through the entire tournament, if Netherlands forward Arjen Robben hits the ground then it is a foul; if Robben hits the ground in an all too unconvincing theatrical dive then it is still a foul and he will never be cautioned for simulation. Robben’s chronic unsportsmanlike behaviour also went unpunished by Cakir throughout this match. The referee’s failure to discipline the striker in his pathetic attempt to draw a foul in the 86th minute against opponent Martin Demichelis therefore made our list. As Demichelis cleared the ball away for a corner kick, Robben then clattered into his opponent and fell to the ground himself pretending he was fouled. The incident drew a scornful reaction from Demichelis and the Argentina bench but no action was taken by Cakir.

10 - June 21, Match 29, Peter O’Leary (New Zealand), Nigeria 1, Bosnia-Herzegovina 0: It was bad enough for Bosnian fans that O’Leary had disallowed Edin Dzeko’s 21st minute goal (see blooper No. 2) but moments later he allowed a Nigeria goal to stand that should have been disallowed. It was plain to see that Bosnia-Herzegovina defender Emir Spahic had his legs clipped out by Emmanuel Eminike and O’Leary should have whistled for a foul, but instead the referee waved play on with Emminike setting up Peter Odemwingie for the game-winning goal.



Who is the worst referee at the FIFA 2014 World Cup?

  • Enrique Osses, Chile (0%, 62 Votes)
  • Nawaf Shukralla, Bahrain (0%, 66 Votes)
  • Mark Geiger, United States (0%, 88 Votes)
  • Noumandiez Desire Doue, Ivory Coast (0%, 88 Votes)
  • Jonas Eriksson, Sweden (0%, 91 Votes)
  • Joel Aguilar, El Salvador (0%, 95 Votes)
  • Bakary Papa Gassama, Gambia (0%, 127 Votes)
  • Meira Sandro Ricci, Brazil (0%, 134 Votes)
  • Carlos Vera, Ecuador (0%, 140 Votes)
  • Felix Brych, Germany (0%, 146 Votes)
  • Bjorn Kuipers, Netherlands (0%, 146 Votes)
  • Cuneyt Cakir, Turkey (0%, 147 Votes)
  • Nestor Pitana, Argentina (0%, 152 Votes)
  • Ravshan Irmatov, Uzbeckistan (0%, 155 Votes)
  • Ben Williams, Australia (0%, 169 Votes)
  • Nicola Rizzoli, Italy (0%, 266 Votes)
  • Howard Webb, England (0%, 276 Votes)
  • Djamel Haimoudi, Ivory Coast (0%, 301 Votes)
  • Wilmar Roldan, Colombia (0%, 411 Votes)
  • Marco Antonio Rodriguez, Mexico (0%, 491 Votes)
  • Pedro Proenca, Portugal (1%, 624 Votes)
  • Carlos Velasco Carballo, Spain (1%, 686 Votes)
  • Yuichi Nishimura, Japan (2%, 2,067 Votes)
  • Peter O'Leary, New Zealand (15%, 16,075 Votes)
  • Milorad Mazic, Serbia (79%, 87,362 Votes)

Total Voters: 110,365

 Loading ...








One thought on “Top ten worst refereeing decisions at the World Cup

  1. I would add:
    Mark Geiger’s failure to send off Matuidi(France) for his horror tackle on Onazi(Nigeria).
    Nicola Rizzoli’s failure to send off Howedes(Germany) for his thigh high, straight legged tackle in which he planted his studs into Zabaleta’s(Argentina) upper thigh.
    Pedro Proenca’s failure to call two clear back to back PK’s committed by Marquez and then by Moreno(Mexico) on Robben(Holland).

Comments are closed.