December 13, 2017

After Brazil event

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rizzoli: ‘It was not a penalty’

Germany''s goalkeeper Manuel Neuer collides with Argentina''s Gonzalo Higuaín during the World Cup final.

The referee in the final backs up his decision on Neuer’s foul against Higuaín

The referee of the World Cup final Nicola Rizzoli said yesterday that he was right in not awarding a penalty when the German keeper Manuel Neuer hit Gonzalo Higuaín in the 55th minute.

ROME — Referee Nicola Rizzoli came under fire from the Argentines for not awarding a penalty against German keeper Manuel Neuer for handling outside the box when racing against Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuaín to get the ball in Sunday’s World Cup final on Sunday.

Rizzoli was probably right in evaluating that Neuer punched the ball away just inside his area but he was wrong to award a free kick to Germany, as Higuaín did not foul the keeper.

Rizzoli insisted that “it was not a penalty” referring to that play at the 55th minute. “Neuer reached the ball first. Gonzalo (Higuaín) complained at the moment but, when the match ended, as well as the other Argentines, he congratulated me for referring the match in a perfect way,” Rizzoli was quoted yesterday at Italian national team’s official website.

However, the referee admitted that he made a mistake conceding a goal kick because Higuaín did not “commit a foul against the German goalkeeper.”

“I realized that when I saw the images of the match. I must admit my mistake,” Rizzoli said.

Nevertheless, the Italian media said that Rizzoli salvaged some pride for Italian soccer when he officiated Germany’s 1-0 win over Argentina with personality and skill on Sunday.

The performance of Rizzoli and his assistants, Renato Faverani and Andrea Stefani, gave Italy a scrap of consolation after the Italian national team’s disappointing group stage exit, which prompted coach Césare Prandelli to quit along with the head of the Italian Soccer Federation (FIGC), Giancarlo Abete. Two other sides led by Italian coaches, Fabio Capello’s Russia and Alberto Zaccheroni’s Japan, also failed to progress from their groups.

So it is a little ironic that one of Italy’s referees, who are frequently lambasted by the media and fans at home, turned out to be the nation’s World Cup hero.

The front page of Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport yesterday said Rizzoli had done a “perfect” job.

According to Italian news agency ANSA, that is not quite true, as the 42-year-old did make some mistakes.

These included his decision not to give Sergio Agüero a yellow card for hitting Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger in the face and for not booking another Argentine, Rodrigo Palacio, for another challenge in injury time.

Rizzoli’s assistants got all the main offside calls right, including the key one that led him to disallow a Higuaín goal on the half-hour mark.

“It was a great feeling and I feel great satisfaction, a reason for Italy and Italian soccer to be proud,” said Rizzoli.

“It was a difficult match, but I was helped a great deal by the players and, above all, by my assistants,” he added.

Herald staff with agencies

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