After putting two games in the books the WC is off to a running start. Four yellow cards, total, with little to no “referee” controversy in either game.
There were times during the Germany vs. Costa Rica game that I thought Horacio Elizondo was too far from hot play but in those instances he was still in control. At on point he was easily 30 yards away from play and where was some, just off the ball, action happening. He was on it in a second. I know I wouldn’t have caught that action from that far away. One yellow card in the whole game, with constance presence. Even when seemingly far from play he was still very aware of action happening on the ball. No question about his calls or ability at the end of the game.
There was a time, that if I saw a referee from one of the weaker confederations, Asia or Cent/North America, working a European or South American game I would cringe. In the past the level of games they would have experience with wasn’t up to the same level as a Poland vs. Ecuador game. This is no longer the case. Toru Kamikawa, Japan, showed the level of fitness that all referees’ should hope for. He was up with play on a constant bases and communicating with the players at most of the break downs (rugby term). There were a few set pieces close to the attacking 18 where he would hold up the kick until he was happy with where the players, offensive and defensive, were and most importantly how they were behaving. There was one instance that I remember fairly well. Ecuador had free kick just off of the end line outside of the penalty area. There were two players, one offensive – one defensive, around the penalty arch. Toru held up the kick till he had a chance to talk to each of them. I’m not sure how well either of these players spoke English or Japanese but Toru was not going to leave them alone till he was happy with their behavior. My favorite part was when one of the players points at the other player with a shrug. I’ve seen kids do that same thing to communicate, “It’s not me, watch him.” Three cards and two goals later the only thing anyone could complain about was the play of their team on the officials team.