World Cup 2014 News: Croatian Coach Kovac Furious over One-Sided Officiating
By Vincent Paul Hidalgo | June 13, 2014 11:52 AM EST
The turning point of the game turned out to be the talking point after Brazil's win over Croatia in the opening salvo of the 2014 World Cup.
Croatia's coach Niko Kovac reacts during their 2014 World cup opening match against Brazil at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo June 12, 2014.
With the match notched at 1-1 in the second half of the opening game, Japanese official Yuichi Nishimura awarded Brazil a controversial spot-kick when striker Fred went down after a light touch from Croatian center-bak Dejan Lovren.
ESPN.com reports that Croatia coach Niko Kovac called the penalty call "ridiculous" and even egged on his players to "better give it up now and go home." The call was the crucial turning point of the game as Brazil zoomed ahead and won the match, 3-1.
"If that was a penalty, we should be playing basketball," Kovac said. "Those kinds of fouls are penalised there.
He also weighed in on the ability of the referee to officiate the game, criticizing their ability to call a game of the World Cup's magnitude.
"That is shameful, this is not a World Cup referee. He had one kind of criteria for them and another for us. The rules were not the same."
Even a pro-Brazil crowd reacted differently to the call, claimed Kovac.
"I don't think anybody, anywhere in the stadium, saw this as a penalty," he said. "If you continue like this you will have 100 penalties. I think 2.5 billion people watching on TV saw this was not a penalty. This was ridiculous and if we continue in this way we will have a circus. Fred is an 85-kilogram [187-pound] man and I don't believe he can be brought to the ground in such a manner."
Other players also shared the sentiment of their coach but on tempered tones. Croatia winger Luka Modric added that he felt they deserved a draw against heavily favored Brazil and that only the controversial call swayed the match in favor of the home team.
"It's difficult. I don't know what to say. I think we played really good. At least we should get a point from this game," he said. "I think we didn't deserve to lose this game but it's how it is. We can't do anything. It's finished now. We need to look forward to next game and try to win next game."
"I don't like to talk about referees. You cannot do anything, it's his decision. I don't agree with the decision. I don't think it was [a] penalty. For sure it was not [a] penalty. But he saw differently and that's what mattered in the end."
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