Are they for real: AFC hail referee Yuichi Nishimura’s ‘strong performance’
Nishimura was the villain for Croatia in Sao Paulo on Thursday with the 42-year-old awarding a penalty for minimal contact on Brazil striker Fred in the second half, which allowed the hosts to claim a 2-1 lead in the opening match of the FIFA World Cup.
That decision and Nishimura’s general performance was widely criticised but the AFC backed their man after the final for making ‘big calls’ at the Arena Corinthians.
“(Nishimura) gave a strong performance in some high-pressure, split-second situations, with his awarding of a penalty to Brazil and adjudging…Ivica Olic for a foul on goalkeeper Julio Cesar (a minute earlier),” an article on the AFC’s website read.
In the 69th minute, Nishimura awarded a penalty to Brazil after Fred went down in the box when backing into Croatia defender Dejan Lovren.
Neymar scored from the spot to notch his second goal before Oscar added a third late in the match to wrap up Brazil’s 3-1 victory.
While the AFC conceded that Fred ‘may have been overdramatic as he went to ground’ they hailed Nishimura for remaining ‘unaffected by the pressure of being under the intense scrutiny of over 60,000 fans at the Arena Corinthians and the hundreds of millions watching worldwide’.
Nishimura is one of just five referees at the World Cup that also officiated in South Africa four years ago.
In South Africa, Nishimura was in charge of four matches including a quarter-final between the Netherlands and Brazil, while the Japanese has also refereed the 2010 FIFA Club World Cup final and the AFC Champions League decider in the same year.
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