Brazilian referee for US opener labelled 'risky'

The Brazilian referee Carlos Simon, who has been selected to take charge of England's first World Cup finals group match against the United States on Saturday, has made so many controversial decisions that one of his nation's biggest clubs petitioned Fifa to get him thrown out the tournament.

Simon, 44, who is officiating at his third World Cup finals, was the subject of a row with the Rio de Janeiro club Flamengo after a bizarre decision not to award a penalty to their striker Diego Tardelli in a crucial game against Cruzeiro in 2008. Replays showed Tardelli should in fact have been given a penalty.

Simon was also suspended in November by the Brazilian football federation for what was cited as "repetition of mistakes". A former journalist who now works for his profession's trade union in Brazil, he took charge of England's group game against Sweden in the 2002 World Cup.

Flamengo took the unprecedented step of writing directly to Fifa – only national associations can deal with the world governing body – pleading with them to drop Simon after the defeat to Cruzeiro cost them a place in the Copa Libertadores.

The then-Flamengo vice-president Kleber Leite said that the "unambiguously inconsistent, unfair and inequitable technical performance of Mr Simon" meant that he was a "risk" at a World Cup finals.

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