USA Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has admitted he has a problem with FIFA’s selection of the match officials for United States’s game against Belgium, to be played on Tuesday. FIFA announced today that Algerian referee Djamel Haimoudi will be in charge of the Round of 16 match. Klinsmann is uncomfortable with the advantage the Belgiums will have with a French-speaking referee. Plus there’s the fact that the USA knocked Algeria out of the World Cup in 2010, which could have an impact on the referee’s decisions.
Klinsmann made the following comments in today’s press conference:
“Well, we hope it’s not a concern. … Is it a good feeling? No.
“We know that he did already two games so far, and he did them very well, so we wish that he continues his refereeing the perfect way he’s done so far.
“I understand FIFA. It’s difficult always to choose the right referee for the right games, and it’s always being kind of tricky for FIFA, but it is what it is. We give it absolutely the benefit of the doubt. We respect the decision, and we’re going to be spot on in the game and hope that everything works well.”
The United States have reasonable cause for concern regarding the choice of referees due to poor calls made against them in past World Cups. Looking back to 2002 when the United States played and lost to Germany 1-0, the referee missed an obvious handball on the goal line that should have resulted in a penalty kick and a red card. Even at the previous World Cup in 2010, the referee disallowed one clear goal in the USA’s game against Slovenia. The game eventually resulted in a draw.
With previous experience at the African Cup of Nations, the U-20 World Cup and World Cup Qualifiers, Haimoudi has been listed as an official FIFA referee since 2004.
The 2014 World Cup is not without its own controversies. The opening match against Croatia saw an obvious flop by Brazil’s Fred to give Brazil in a game where they went on to win 2-1. Recently a dive by Arjen Robben allowed the Netherlands to take a 2-1 lead over Mexico in the Round of 16, eliminating El Tri from the tournament.
The United States are set to play Belgium tomorrow, July 1st at 4pm EST/1pm PST for entrance to the quarter-finals.