Referee Selection Politics: Germany v Argentina

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 7/12/2014 05:55:00 PM
"The Malvinas [Falklands] are Argentine": players fight for a (lost) cause predating them.
This is a quick post on an interesting and potentially important facet concerning the politics of a Germany versus Argentina World Cup final in South America. Referees are supposed to be impartial; the best are those which usually attract the least attention and let the game flow for as long as there are no egregious violations. (In which case they need to be firm yet fair to maintain order.) Yes, there are North-South aspects to this contest as there have been in the two previous finals matchups between these two countries in 1986 (when Argentina won) and 1990 (when Germany won). Italian Nicola Rizzoli's selection to referee the final raised some eyebrows since many expected the referee chosen to be neither Western European or South American:
With a European and South American team playing, many had expected FIFA to appoint an Asian referee for Sunday's game. But Rizzoli got the call to work his third Argentina match at this year's World Cup.
Why not, for instance, have an Asian referee?
Ravshan Irmatov, from Uzbekistan, had been viewed as one of the favourites for the final as he is from neither Europe nor South America, but he does not have a team of assistants who work all the time with him.
Countering suggestions of favoritism towards Europeans, the Belgian team coach has even complained that Rizzoli made far more decisions in favor of Argentina during their match:
Rizzoli was the target of criticism from Belgium's Marc Wilmots after the 1-0 quarter-final defeat by Argentina last Saturday.

Wilmots claimed: "I don't want to be a cry baby, but I noticed the referee never gives fouls against Argentina. "Every time something happens with Messi the referee gives him a free-kick. I notice he [Messi] made three fouls and no yellow card, we made one foul and one yellow card."
Somebody who was definitely not in the running for refereeing this World Cup final was English referee Howard Webb who had the honor of watching over the 2010 final between Spain and the Netherlands. The 1982 Falklands War remains a bitter dispute between Argentina and the UK, and having a British referee would have rubbed more salt into a wound that stretches onto the football pitch. "Hand of God" goal and all that:
England's Howard Webb was never in contention to referee the final - he was in charge of the 2010 showpiece and FIFA has never before appointed an official to referee two World Cup finals. It was also felt that it would be too sensitive to have Webb referee a match in which Argentina are involved - the team are still going through a FIFA disciplinary process for displaying a banner claiming the Falkland Islands should belong to their country.

Furthermore, Argentina's FIFA senior vice-president Julio Grondona has never hidden his disdain for England. In 2011 he called the English "liars" at the FIFA Congress and in an interview with the German press agency DPA referred to the English as "pirates".
So yes, football politics extend even to referee selection since the Argentinians are finicky about such things.