Japanese soccer fans hung their heads in shame yesterday after referee Yuichi Nishimura’s controversial performance in the World Cup opener helped Brazil to a 3-1 win over Croatia, further clouding FIFA’s showpiece tournament.
Social media in Japan lit up after the official’s decision to give a soft penalty to Brazil which changed the balance of the closely fought match. Several posts showed mocked-up photos of Nishimura wearing a Brazil jersey.
“There’s a lot of Nishimura bashing, but quite right,” tweeted @shinokc. “That was not a penalty. Feel so sorry for Croatia.”
Echoing the sentiments of Croatia’s furious coach, Niko Kovac, who claimed Nishimura had been out of his depth, @sanadamasayuki2 commented: “It’s a tough job for us dithering Japanese.”
Anticipating a further backlash, @tonbuhin tweeted: “Oh dear, if Brazil win the World Cup the whole world will say Nishimura was the MVP [Most Valuable Player].”
The 42-year-old Nishimura also disallowed a Croatia goal and should arguably have shown Brazilian star Neymar a straight red card for elbowing Luka Modric.
He has been an international referee since 2004 and has officiated in several tournaments, including the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. At the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations, Nishimura was shoved by Angola players during an ill-tempered quarter-final with Egypt, but failed to send any of them off and did not feature in the rest of the tournament.
In 2010, Congolese fans incandescent at his performance in a FIFA Club World Cup game took rather misguided revenge by vandalizing a Chinese restaurant in their country.
Although twice voted by the J-League as its referee of the year, he has long been controversial among Japanese fans, not least for his reputation for awarding dubious penalties.
@jazuman deadpanned after the Brazil-Croatia match: “Premier League: no penalty, Serie A: no penalty, J-League: Oh, Nishimura!”
Fellow Japanese referee Masayoshi Okada was sent packing by FIFA after just one game of the 1998 World Cup after England players reacted furiously to his officiating of their 2-0 win over Tunisia.
However, Nishimura’s display is likely to linger longer in the memory, having significantly altered the momentum of the opening game.
It was further embarrassment for FIFA after months of public protests and strikes in Brazil, and with soccer’s ruling body battling renewed allegations of corruption over its award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
Japanese people felt pressure around the world yesterday, with @chizurufgarcia in Argentina claiming she had been e-mailed by local reporters for comment on Nishimura.
Some took refuge in humor. Japanese soccer fans were among more than 16,000 who retweeted @FootballFunnys account’s “Man of the Match — The Referee.”
Mainstream media in Japan have so far steered clear of the controversy surrounding the World Cup opener, but the Nikkan Sports daily gave the match official a measure of support.
“Referee Nishimura resolutely gives Brazil a penalty,” it headlined.
However, @SpursJapan was resigned to a wave of criticism to come from the soccer fraternity, tweeting: “Japan’s battle with the world has begun.”
Indian police are investigating an alleged betting scandal in which a sham cricket tournament was held in an Indian village and passed off as a Twenty20 contest played in Sri Lanka. Players portrayed as Sri Lankan cricketers played two matches on Monday last week that were broadcast with live commentary on YouTube, media reports said, along with ball-by-ball coverage on top Indian sports Web sites. The organizers hung Sri Lankan advertisements at the ground for added authenticity and put up tents to block the view from outside the remote rural venue, set in farmland next to a busy highway. Police said that they
Taipower on Sunday charged to their third straight win and took over first place in the Taiwan Football Premier League as previous leaders Taichung Futuro suffered their first defeat of the season, while Hang Yuan rallied from two goals down to complete a thrilling 3-2 victory over National Taiwan University of Sport (NTUS). Heading into the 10th round of matches, unbeaten Taichung Futuro led the league with 21 points, but they fell to their first defeat of the season, a 1-0 loss to Tatung at the National Stadium in Kaohsiung. In a match in which both defenses were on top and there
HOTSHOT: Luis Suarez scored his 194th goal for Barca, tying him with Ladislao Kubala as the club’s third-highest scorer, behind Cesar Rodriguez and Lionel Messi With another decisive penalty from Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid on Sunday extended their perfect run after the COVID-19 suspension and moved closer to their first Spanish title in three years. Ramos scored his fifth goal since the season resumed as Madrid defeated Athletic Bilbao 1-0 to maintain a four-point lead over Barcelona, who beat fifth-placed Villarreal 4-1. Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann were among the scorers for Barcelona after assists from Lionel Messi. Ramos converted a 73rd-minute penalty to give Madrid their seventh straight victory and they remain the only team with a perfect record since La Liga resumed. “These three points are very
Thailand international Pitsamai Sornsai, a new arrival for Inter Taoyuan, is to lead her team against Taipei Bravo tomorrow in the 10th round of the Taiwan Mulan Football League. Sornsai, who is nicknamed Pui, has attracted interest from media and fans as the first foreigner signed to play in Taiwan’s women’s league. Inter are among six teams battling for the title this year. The addition of Sornsai is a boost for the international profile of women’s soccer in Taiwan and elevates the competition. The 31-year-old brings a wealth of experience, including from the Asian Football Confederation’s Women’s Championship, the Southeast Asian Games and