United States manager Jurgen Klinsmann has voiced his concerns with FIFA's decision to appoint Djamel Haimoudi as the referee for his side's World Cup round-of-16 fixture against Belgium on Tuesday.
According to Sam Borden of The New York Times, Klinsmann inferred that the Algerian official could have a negative predisposition toward the Americans, who helped knock the North African nation out of the 2010 World Cup:
Klinsmann on Algerian ref: "Is it a good feeling? No. He is able to speak French on field to their players." Noted US elim. ALG in last WC.— Sam Borden (@SamBorden) June 30, 2014
Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated further quoted the German in saying Haimoudi's officiating has impressed him thus far in the tournament. Haimoudi officiated the Netherlands' 3-2 win over Australia and the Costa Rica-England scoreless draw.
Borden added Klinsmann's personal take on FIFA's logic:
Klinsmann said ALG ref did good job first 2 games, but has issues considering French-speaking ref/BEL team & fact US eliminated ALG in 2010.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) June 30, 2014
Klinsmann: "Sometimes I don't understand FIFA." He's not the only one.— Sam Borden (@SamBorden) June 30, 2014
To suggest the referee may be biased against any one team simply due to the part his nation played in a past defeat is grasping at straws and shows a lack of faith in the controlling powers to boot.
On Klinsmann's part, it's a defensive tactic that hasn't been uncommon in the build-up to matches at this year's tournament. Players and managers alike address concerns in advance, increasing the furore before fixtures have even gotten under way.
Klinsmann's concerns regarding French being spoken exclusively between one competing side and the referee have more foundation. That doesn't necessarily give Belgium a substantial advantage to speak of, though, if there is one at all.
All that will matter is the 22 players who are at any one time competing to claim a spot in the quarter-finals of this year's contest. Marc Wilmots' and Klinsmann's sides each have a massive opportunity to advance in Brazil.