Codesal: "I opposed to Blatter's demand to change referees"

The outstanding image from the 1990 World Cup final was not Andreas Brehme striking home the winning penalty in the 85th minute, securing the 1-0 win for the European side, nor was it coach Franz Beckenbauer celebrating with the trophy. It was actually current U.S. national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann, tackled late by Pedro Monzon after a one-two combination with Lothar Matthaus, rolling three times and then raising up on one shoulder to continue his pained reaction. The challenge was in keeping with the rest of the game, and Monzon, a halftime substitute, was shown a straight red card for the tackle by referee Edgardo Codesal. Worse was to come for Argentina: five minutes from time, Codesal awarded West Germany a penalty after Matthaus played through Rudi Voller, who, tightly marked by Roberto Sensini, fell to the ground in the area. Previously in the match, Codesal had rejected Gabriel Calderon’s claims after a similar clash with Klaus Augenthaler. Two minutes later, Codesal sent off another Argentine, Gustavo Dezotti, for grabbing Jurgen Kohler around the neck and wrestling him to the ground in an effort to get the ball off him for a throw-in. Codesal ran over and theatrically brandished his second red of the game, reducing Argentina to nine players.
This was Codesal’s last game as a referee. When he returned to Mexico after the game [he was Mexican-Uruguayan, and his grandfather was born in Argentina], he was confronted with hordes of journalists. “I was brave and honest, like I always am,” he said. “The foul was Argentina’s fault, not mine. I’m calm and happy.” At that World Cup, Codesal had taken charge of Italy’s 1-0 win over USA, awarding a penalty missed by Gianluca Viali, and blew for two penalties as England beat Cameroon 3-2 in the quarterfinal. FIFA observers gave him an average rating of 8.5 for his performances. Codesal’s father, Jose Maria, was a referee who officiated at the 1966 World Cup. The one piece of advice he gave his son: “Don’t ever give a penalty if you think you will have to explain it a thousand times.” Nine years on, he remained convinced that his decision had been the correct one. “I have no doubt,” he told Ole. “The referees don’t have to look for intent; they have to look for contact. This is what I saw: the Argentine tried to get to the ball first but he stretched his leg and tackled the German. It was a penalty. I was convinced at the time and I have not changed my mind since. For me, it’s a closed case.” The case, actually, was far from closed. Soon after that interview, Humberto Rojano, the former president of the Mexican Referees Committee, went public on how Codesal had been appointed. He spoke of a meeting he had with Javier Arriaga, former head of the Mexican Referees Committee and a key figure in the FIFA Referees Committee in 1990. Arriaga also happened to be Codesal’s father-in-law. Rojano told Mexican paper La Jornada that “the authorities,” ­a phrase that is deliberately vague, ­had told Arriaga that “Argentina didn’t have to win.” “I know the Argentines still hate me and that hurts,” Codesal told Reforma years later. “I love them and it hurts that I made them suffer. I would have liked Argentina won their third World Cup back in 1990. If I were God, I would change things, but I’m not God. I do know that in 50 years, they still won’t forgive me.” Codesal had actually watched the 1986 World Cup final between the same sides in Mexico, and had been supporting Argentina. But in 2011, over 20 years after the incident, Codesal’s stance had hardened against the continued hostility from the losing nation. “I admire the Argentines for their will to win, but they have not learnt to lose, they just can’t accept it,” he said. “Someone told them that they lost because I was the referee and they believed it. When Maradona uses his hand to score, that's intelligent; but if they don't win, it’s because someone stole from them”. (Source: Sports Illustrated)
Although Codesal was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, he represented his adopted country, Mexico, as a CONCACAF referee in the 1990 World Cup. He quit after the World Cup because his dad, the famous referee, had told him: “when you have taken charge of the World Cup final, you have nothing to do in football anymore”. After his retirement from active refereeing, Codesal was CONCACAF's Director of Referees, Head of Refereeing for the FIFA Women's World Cup USA 1999, and member of the Referees Committee for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Nigeria, the Confederations Cup in Mexico and the FIFA U-17 World Cup in New Zealand. In 2002, Codesal tried to run against Jack Warner for the presidency of CONCACAF. At first, CONCACAF said that Codesal's candidature had not been accepted because he was a paid employee of the Confederation, but Codesal dismissed the argument. “Warner and all of them (members of the executive committee) are paid”, he said. Mexican Football Federation (FMF) president Alberto de la Torre said: “Mr. Codesal is not paid, he receives expenses and expenses are not payments because if they were, Mr. Warner would not be eligible either, as he gets expenses”. Yet, the fact that Jack Warner (Trinidad) was the sitting president and a good friend of Sepp Blatter didn't help. All Caribbean members chose Warner, while only Mexico and Costa Rica supported Codesal. After he lost the battle for the CONCACAF presidency, he became a referee analyst for various Spanish-speaking media. Codesal: “I have been saying that today's leadership changed the world of football management and refereeing in general. In our time, the chairman of the Referees Committee of each confederation was a member of the FIFA Referees Committee, which gave congruence for the position, but also some power over appointments. At the 2001 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago, I was the Director of Referees for the tournament. The final meeting took place in front of the FIFA president and various committees (more than 40 people) and I announced the names of the referees for the final, causing disagreement in Africa because the final was between an African and a European country and we appointed a referee from Europe. Blatter demanded that referees were changed, claiming the continental neutrality, to which I opposed, using the statutes of the same FIFA that say appointments and decisions of the Referees Committee are final, severely angering the president. There were all kinds of pressure, but the referees were not changed because we chose according to their qualifications and not the country of birth. I brought this story up because, in the wake of that event, the whole structure of the Referees Committees around the world, including FIFA and the confederations, was changed for the 2002-2006 cycle, incorporating, besides former referees, people from the management teams or federations, so that they could politically control the appointments and not rely on the opinion of the former officials, who were not easy to subdue, leaving them only technical work and not the appointments. That explains how the Referees Committees work, their purpose and policies”. (Source: Medio Tiempo)
Almost 25 years after his World Cup final, Edgardo Codesal recently returned as the Technical Director of the Mexican Referees Committee. He has also been appointed as an international referee observer in Copa Libertadores.