World Cup match 1: South Africa vs. Mexico, Johannesburg, 11 June 2010.

I am of the opinion the Referee for the opening match between South Africa & Mexico, Ravshan Irmatov of Uzbekistan, did exceedingly well, including his 1st assistant whom correctly ruled Mexico’s goal offside. Ravshan control of the match was calm, focused, with excellent body language; he was also quick off the mark to get into good viewing angles. He did not seem  flustered or nervous given the occasion. Rated currently #15 in the world, he has a bright future and if he’s consistent, will soon break into the World Top 10 Referee List.  Well done Ravshan and your officiating team!

Mexico's Efrain Juarez, left, became the first player to be booked in the World Cup by referee Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan) during the World Cup group A soccer match between South Africa and Mexico at Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup match 2: Uruguay vs. France, Cape Town, 11 June 2010:

A very good performance from Japanese referee Nashimura given some of the flying tackles during this fast, chaotic match. Well controlled, using his discretion and common sense, where allowed, to rather talk to players  as opposed to be completely yellow-card happy.

Nashimura quickly took charge of the delaying tactics of the captain of Uruguay at a free kick (awarded to France) near the penalty area late in the match, cautioning the player  for failing to adhere to the referee’s instruction to move the required 10-yards away.

Referee Nashimura was also spot-on with the first red card of World Cup 2010  in the 81st minute,  a second yellow/caution for the hot-headed Uruguayan substitute Lodeiro due to the latter’s late, reckless lunge on his opponent. Lodeiro managed only 18 min. on the pitch.

Lodeiro, brought on as substitute in the 63rd minute, received his first caution in the 65th minute  for delaying the restart of play; kicking the ball away after the whistle was blown for an infringement.

Most importantly, Nashimura looked as if he enjoyed the match, being stern when needed, but also showing a relaxed body language (and a smile!)  in lesser confronting situations between the two teams. He was not too officious, correctly maintaining a balance between being firm, fair as well as approachable by grumbling players, without entertaining too much lip from them.

Despite the French coach Domonech’s complaint after the match about a possible handball to be awarded for France in the penalty area late in the match, the Laws of the game were correctly applied: If the ball did indeed struck the hand of the Uruguay defender after a shot from a French forward, there was certainly no deliberate movement of his hand towards the ball, given the speed of the ball and the distance between the two players involved.

Another very good performance from the FIFA Team officials!