Stephane Lannoy, who refereed the Brazilian team at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, comments on the penalty kick awarded by Nishimura in the opening match.
“What shocks me the most is not the mistake of Mr. Nishimura, but the simulation of Fred. I took my kids to school this morning, I turned on the radio and it's always the same story. It stigmatizes constantly the referee errors and never talks about cheating players. It says "this is a penalty generously granted". They are not talking about the behavior of Fred, who abused the referee. I must say that the referee was abused by an obvious behavior. It is not easy to see, the referee has a front vision, all he sees is a defender in contact with Fred and he thinks that shirt pulling causes his downfall. Watching it on TV with real speed, we also think there was shirt pulling and only in slow motion we realize that there is absolutely nothing. The other question I ask myself is whether or not there is an external intervention; whether or not his assistant, who had a much clearer vision, was able to provide an indication to Nishimura.
Rather than systematically discredit the referees, could we not further stigmatize the deviant behavior of the player? Let's get a couple of seconds in the skin of the Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura. At the end of the game, he is probably already aware of his mistake. It is not the Croatian bench who alerted him, but the FIFA observer who will mark the performance of the referee. Nishimura will definitely spend a dirty evening and will make the press feasted for several days. He will certainly have a second game, less prestigious, to officiate at this World Cup, but it is not at all clear if he will continue. For him it is extremely complicated. And Fred? Nothing. I'm not in the place of people of FIFA, but I would like this kind of behavior to be sanctioned. The preparation of such a game is complicated. Referees selected for the World Cup are entrenched in a camp, but they know all the issues surrounding the games. When a referee is appointed to officiate Brazil, the home team, he knows everything about the mass pressure, the social climate surrounding the competition, the risks if Brazil is quickly eliminated from the competition. Nevertheless, they have to stay focused on the game, anticipate, and be in the best conditions to make the decision as fair as possible. Brazil play fast, Croatia, everything is a matter of anticipation. The referee tried to let them play the game to the fullest, there was not much whistled, he could have issued more cards but the mood on the field was good. He tried, with the exception of the penalty, to seek the best angle and the best positioning. We, referees, are there to make unpopular decisions. It's our job. In 2010, I refereed Brazil against Ivory Coast during the group matches of the World Cup in South Africa. Brazil won 3-1, but at the second goal, Luis Fabiano controlled the ball with his hand. I signalled for the goal, but then I doubted it, I saw the player and asked the question. "With what part of your body did you control the ball? With the chest’, he replied. It was a lie, but it was the only way for me to return the gesture of responsibility on the player. If he had told me that yes, he had controlled the ball with his hand, I would have cancelled the goal. As the game does not resume, you can change your mind and you can always expect to come across a gentleman. That is all the teaching I had pulled from Thierry Henry in the match against Ireland. It was impossible to see, but by asking the player, it returns the responsibility on him and risk to talk to a liar. Football does not need the video; football just needs more honest players.”
Source: Le Monde