Referee Simon happy to chat despite swearing ban
The England players are on notice that swearing will be to their detriment this evening after Brazilian referee Carlos Simon's crash course in abusive English language – but verbal communication is possible as Simon is a referee who is known to like talking to players during the game.
The 44-year-old's decision to learn 20 abusive terms, as reported by The Independent this week, has given the impression that he is a strict disciplinarian but inquiries reveal that Simon, who worked in a bank and trained as a journalist without working as one before moving into officiating, adopts a policy of interaction with players which he believes can calm things down.
Any players who feel they can escape his earshot to let go their frustrations this evening should also know that Simon is a fitness fanatic who prides himself on his pace. "The fact that he has made it to his third World Cup is in part a result of his fitness," a close friend of Simon told The Independent yesterday. Simon apparently uses a former 100m runner, known in Brazil as "Pele", to help put him though his paces before major tournaments and a new season.
It is Simon's decision-making, rather than a disciplinarian streak, which has made him such a source of controversy in Brazil. Referees can find themselves temporarily demoted in Brazil, as in England, for poor decisions – in Brazil it is known as being sent to "the fridge" – and this fate befell Simon last year after a spectacularly bad decision in a game between Fluminese and Palmeiras in which he ruled a perfectly good goal offside for Palmeiras against a Fluminense side which was struggling against relegation at the time.
It was a decision that led to claims of corruption from Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo, the president of Palmeiras, who branded Simon a "crook, scoundrel and a bastard", adding that he was "without shame" and "in the drawer of someone". He also said he had "made a service" for Fluminense and said he would "slap him" if he "met him on the street".
Flamengo sent Fifa a DVD of Simon's questionable dismissal of Diego Tardelli in a game against Cruzeiro in 2008 – he was sent off for diving when it should have been a penalty, though more relevant to England this evening is the personality of Simon. One of his other character traits, according to those who have observed him, is an unwillingness to accept he is wrong, which has become increasingly strong as he has become such a well-known official in Brazil and enjoyed some of the trappings of fame including a home in Petropolis, in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
"A penalty decision given in the North West of the country was one of the most bizarre," said one observer. "A striker collapsed to the penalty area as a defender chased him and even though the defender was a distance away he gave the decision. When he was challenged about it later he insisted: 'I saw it from my angle.' In recent years he has become more and more intolerant of criticism."
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