Nizhny Novgorod (Russia) (AFP) – Referees are not encouraged to seize centre-stage but Nestor Pitana, the man who will take charge of Friday’s France-Uruguay World Cup quarter-final, is used to the limelight.
The Argentine used to be an actor before becoming a top official, appearing in 1997 action film “The Fury”.
Pitana, who concentrated on refereeing only in 2007, officiated at the opening match between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia and may be in line to handle the final, with his own nation already knocked out.
The 43-year-old, who was on duty at the World Cup in Brazil four years ago, is also a gymnastics teacher.
His selection for Friday’s game raised eyebrows in some quarters given Argentina is Uruguay’s neighbour.
But Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez dismissed any conspiracy theories ahead of the game in Nizhny Novgorod.
“It’s a coincidence, but we have not won a game when this referee has taken charge,” said Tabarez.
“It doesn’t really matter if he’s Argentinian or not, he’s a good referee, that’s all that matters.”
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