10 Worst Refereeing Decisions of the World Cup
The 2014 World Cup will be remembered for it's incredible goalkeeping performances, the thrill of counter-attacking football and the shocking capitulation of the hosts.
Sadly, it may also be noted for its numerous officiating controversies.
The tournament in Brazil wasn't a fantastic advert for FIFA referees and linesmen, as several controversial calls stole the headlines.
Here's 10 of the worst refereeing decisions from the World Cup. Have your say and leave your nominations in the comments...
10. Neymar's Yellow Card Against Croatia
Brazil stumbled to a 3-1 win over Croatia in the opening match of the tournament, but the victory was marred by a couple of controversial incidents.
In the 27th minute, Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura gave Neymar a yellow card for a pretty blatant elbow to the side of Luka Modric's face.
It might have taken some mettle to send off the Selecao's star player in the opening game, but pundits including Alan Shearer believe this is exactly what Nishimura should have done.
9. Georgios Samaras' Penalty Against the Ivory Coast
The Ivory Coast's group stage clash with Greece was honours even at 1-1 when Georgios Samaras went down in the box from an apparent challenge from Giovanni Sio in the 91st minute.
Ecuadorian referee Carlos Vera immediately signalled for a penalty kick, which Samaras converted to give the Europeans a 2-1 win.
Replays suggest the call was highly controversial, as Sio made minimal contact on Samaras, who looked as if he fell after kicking the ground.
The 2-1 win put Greece through to the knockout stage. Without the penalty call, it would have been the Elephants progressing instead.
8. Manuel Neuer's Knee to Gonzalo Higuain's Face
Manuel Neuer shined at the 2014 World Cup in his "false five" sweeper role, but he was very lucky to stay on the field during the final when he came off his line to challenge Gonzalo Higuain.
The German shot-stopper punched the ball away from danger while simultaneously kneeing his Argentinean opponent in the face. It looked to be worth at least a yellow card for dangerous play.
Incredibly, referee Nicola Rizzoli ruled that Neuer was the one who had been fouled and gave Germany a free-kick.
The final was the third Argentinean match that the Italian had officiated at the tournament, and he was a controversial choice after being accused of favouring Leo Messi. Clearly, he did the Albiceleste no favours with this decision.
7. Thiago SIlva's Yellow Card in the Third-Place Playoff
Thiago Silva missed Brazil's humiliation at the hands of Germany after picking up a very silly yellow card in the quarter-final match with Colombia.
The Paris Saint-Germain star returned to the side for the third-place playoff match, in which he took just three minutes to foul Arjen Robben and concede a penalty.
It is generally perceived that referee Djamel Haimoudi was correct to award a spot-kick as the infringement continued into the penalty area.
However, the Algerian only gave Silva a yellow card. Seeing as he was the last man and prevented a clear goalscoring opportunity, this was surely a red-card offence.
6. Blaise Matuidi's Tackle on Ogenyi Onazi
During France's round of 16 clash with Nigeria, Blaise Matuidi put in a nasty studs-up challenge on Ogenyi Onazi which left the Lazio star requiring surgery on a torn tendon.
American referee Mark Geiger only deemed the challenge worthy of a yellow card. Onazi's absence, meanwhile, seriously damaged Nigeria's chances of success.
Geiger was also accused of favouring Les Blues when he failed to punish an Olivier Giroud elbow on Jon Obi Mikel, he didn't call a penalty when Patrice Evra held Peter Odemwingie and he didn't try to curb some rough French play.
5. Brazilian 'Favouritism' Against Colombia
Colombia's quarter-final with Brazil was a heated affair packed with controversial incidents. There were 54 fouls committed—a World Cup record—but only four yellow cards handed out.
Much attention was given to Juan Camilo Zuniga's foul on Neymar that broke a vertebrae in his back, but Colombia received much more than their fair share of aggressive behaviour.
After the game, Argentinean legend Diego Maradona fumed at the amount of fouls David Luiz committed on James Rodriguez without being shown a card. “This is the worst ref I have seen in the last 10 years,” he said on his TV show De Zurda (h/t Tahoo Sports), adding that both Hulk and Julio Cesar should have been sent off.
The Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo and his officiating team also came under fire during the game for disallowing a perfectly legitimate goal from Colombia captain Mario Yepes for offside.
4. Joel Campbell's Penalty Claim Against Italy
Costa Rica were drawing 0-0 with Italy in the 43rd minute of their Group D match when striker Joel Campbell made a run into the Azzurri box.
Before taking a shot, however, Campbell appeared to be kicked and pushed to the ground by defender Giorgio Chiellini.
Most saw it as a clear penalty, but Chilean referee Enrique Osses decided not to blow up. Costa Rica manager Jorge Luis Pinto was up in arms on the sidelines, but his protests to the fourth official were ultimately fruitless.
Just a minute later, however, Bryan Ruiz vindicated the Central Americans by heading home to ensure a 1-0 win and progress to the knockout rounds.
3. Oscar's Booking Against the Netherlands
In the first 62 matches of the World Cup, there were no yellow cards shown for simulation. The first one came in the 68th minute of the third-place playoff game—and it was the wrong decision.
Oscar had the chance to shorten Brazil's 2-0 deficit to the Netherlands when he went down in the area. Algerian referee Djamel Haimoudi believed the Chelsea star was diving, but replays clearly show that Daley Blind stomped on his right foot.
Haimoudi may deserve credit for having the courage to punish a perceived dive, but in this instance, it was the wrong call.
2. Fred's Penalty Against Croatia
Fred is very unlikely to go down in the history books among Brazil's greatest strikers, but the Fluminense man did contribute to the Selecao's opening win over Croatia. Although that contribution was winning a very dubious penalty.
In the 71st minute with the score at 1-1, Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura believed that Fred was hauled down in the box by Southampton defender Dejan Lovren. However, replays suggest that the forward made the most of minimal contact and fell down under his own steam.
Neymar went on to convert the spot-kick to give the hosts a 2-1 lead. Croatia coach Niko Kovac was furious, calling the decision "ridiculous" and claiming the referee was "out of his depth."
1. Gio Dos Santos' Two Disallowed Goals Against Cameroon
On a rain-soaked afternoon in Natal, lady luck was not looking favourably upon Mexico in their group stage clash with Cameroon.
Ten minutes in, Giovani Dos Santos had a legitimate opening goal ruled out by Colombian linesman Humberto Clavijo for offside. However, replays showed Gio was in line with the last defender.
Twenty minutes later, Dos Santos headed home from a corner but once again was called back for offside. Clavijo had made a bad decision, as the ball fell to the former Tottenham star from the head of a Cameroonian defender.
Fortunately, Oribe Peralta found the net just after the hour mark to ensure three points for El Tri.
After his double blunder, Clavijo was relieved of his duties in Brazil.