The standard of officiating in international football has come under scrutiny after dubious decisions in last night’s World Cup qualifiers coincided with the Fifa announcement that suspended referee, Slim Jdidi, would be on the shortlist for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The Tunisian’s performance in the African Cup of Nations semi-final between Burkina Faso and Ghana was described as “scandalous” by Burkinabe coach Gualbert Kabore. He waved away a certain penalty for the outsiders and sent off defender Jonathan Pitroipa, while handing a questionable spot-kick to Ghana to compound the misery.
Jdidi was handed and instant suspension by the Confederation of African Football, so his possible inclusion at next summer’s showpiece will raise eyebrows and tempers, no more so than in Burkina Faso.
Europe and South America had their fair share of refereeing blunders in yesterday’s round of qualifying. Bulgaria coach Luboslav Penev lamented a “refereeing circus” which cost the eastern Europeans victory against Denmark last night, and all but ruled them out of challenging Italy for top spot in Group B.
Firat Aydinus, the Turkish official, missed an obvious handball by Andreas Cornelius with Bulgaria leading their hosts 1-0, and consequently the Scandinavians counter-attacked and won a penalty to equalise.
Penev fumed: "I promised not to talk about the referee's performance but I cannot pass it. We've been robbed by referees again.”
"It'll be good if people in Europe have the possibility to learn how they treat Bulgaria in these qualifiers."
Elsewhere, in Santiago, a group match between Chile and Uruguay degenerated after controversial Liverpool striker Luis Suarez punched opposing defender Gonzalo Jara. Again, the incident was missed by the man in the middle.
England's match with Montenegro was also not free of incidents, with some arguing referee Jonas Eriksson should have awarded Danny Welbeck a penalty toward the end of the first half. Instead, the Manchester United striker was booked.