Yuichi Nishimura Head Referee at Brazil vs Croatia Game; Called Foul on Dejan Lovren That Led to Neymar Goal

June 12, 2014 Updated: June 12, 2014

Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura is under scrutiny over making a questionable call during the Brazil vs Croatia World Cup game that led to a goal by Brazil.

Dejan Lovren was issued a yellow card after allegedly taking down Fred in the penalty box.

Neymar then got a penalty kick and made it, putting Brazil up 2-1.

People took to Twitter to lambast the call, as it appeared that Neymar did quite a bit of acting.

It’s notable that Nishimura is officiating the game because he also called the last game Brazil played in a World Cup–the quarterfinal against Holland in 2010.

He is known for sending off Felipe Melo in the match, and accidentally pulled out a red card instead of a yellow card when carding Andre Ooijer. 

Nishimura also gave out the first red card in the 2010 World Cup, to Uruguayan midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro.

Another notable incident came during the 2008 African Cup of Nations, where he was pushed by Angolan players. He wasn’t chosen to officiate the remaining matches of the tournament, but Angola was banned for five years for the situation.



Nishimura has won accolades within the refereeing community, winning the Japanese League Referee of the Year in 2009 and 2010, and the Best Men’s Referee of the Year by the Asian Football Confederation in 2012.

Nishimura was joined by compatriots Toru Sagara and Toshiyuki Nagi, who will be the assistant referees for Thursday’s Brazil-Croatia tournament and Group A opener at the Itaquerao stadium in Sao Paulo. Iran’s Alireza Faghani is the fourth official.

FIFA also selected Nicola Rizzoli of Italy to officiate the hotly-anticipated Group B game between world champion Spain and the Netherlands, a rematch of the ill-tempered final four years ago.

Of FIFA’s 25 referees for Brazil, Nishimura is one of five that have been retained from the World Cup in 2010. The others are Ravshan Irmatov of Uzbekistan, Joel Aguilar of El Salvador, Peter O’Leary of New Zealand and Howard Webb of England, who refereed the final.

FIFA announced the referees for the first four games in Brazil, the opening Group A and Group B encounters, including Spain vs. Netherlands on Friday in Salvador. Rizzoli, who took charge of the 2013 Champions League final, will referee his first World Cup game.

Referee appointments:


Group A

Brazil vs. Croatia

Referee: Yuichi Nishimura (Japan). Assistant referees: Toru Sagara and Toshiyuki Nagi (both Japan): Fourth official: Alireza Faghani (Iran).


Group A

Mexico vs. Cameroon

Referee: Wilmar Roldan (Colombia). Assistant referees: Humberto Clavijo and Eduardo Diaz (both Colombia). Fourth official: Norbert Hauata (Tahiti).

Group B

Spain vs. Netherlands

Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Italy). Assistant referees: Renato Faverani and Andrea Stefani (both Italy). Fourth official: Svein Moen (Norway).

Chile vs. Australia

Referee: Noumandiez Doue (Ivory Coast). Assistant referees: Songuifolo Yeo (Ivory Coast) and Jean Claude Birumushahu (Burundi). Fourth official: Roberto Moreno (Panama).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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