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BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil – The controversial referee who missed Luis Suarez’s infamous bite on Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini will be in charge for Tuesday’s World Cup semifinal between Brazil and Germany.
Mexican official Marco Rodriguez, nicknamed “Dracula,” did not spot Suarez’s scandalous action that resulted in a four-month ban from soccer and nine-game suspension from the Uruguay national team.
[Related: Maligned Japanese ref could get World Cup final assignment]
However, FIFA rewarded the 40-year-old for his performances in the tournament by selecting him for one of the biggest matches of the entire event: a showdown between the five-time champion host nation and three-time winner Germany.
But Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, perhaps wisely, refused to speak ill of Rodriguez, defending him for not having seen the Suarez incident, which, in fairness, took place away from the heart of the play.
“What do I think?” asked Scolari when quizzed during his press conference Monday. “If he didn’t see it, he didn’t see it. Many things happen that the referee doesn’t see. Fouls, something that happens in the game.
“That was one thing he missed. Sometimes they watch the ball and something else happens out of their line of vision. That is why they have the assistants.
“I believe, on what we know, that he is experienced, so he is a good choice by FIFA for this match.”
This is Rodriguez’s third World Cup but Tuesday’s game will be the first time he has been selected to officiate in the knockout stage. In this tournament, he took charge of Belgium’s group stage victory over Algeria before Uruguay’s win against Italy, but he has since been inactive for more than two weeks.
Rodriguez has a history of issuing red cards in his World Cup appearances – having dismissed five players in six games, including Italy’s Claudio Marchisio on June 24.
[Related: American ref to work Brazil-Germany semifinal]
After the 2006 World Cup, Rodriguez was described by English referee Graham Poll as a “complete poser who showed a lot of naivety in his decision-making.” United States head coach Jurgen Klinsmann also objected to Rodriguez having been selected for a U.S. qualifying game against Costa Rica last September, as the Americans were due to play Mexico four days later.
The selection of a hardline referee such as Rodriguez could be seen as giving a slight edge to Germany, as Brazil used a highly physical and aggressive approach during its quarterfinal victory over Colombia.
“Hard challenges are definitely part of the game,” German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger said. “It is something we have to be careful of … and the referee too.”
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