The Washington Post

Colombian lawyer says he’s suing FIFA for $1.3 billion for bad refereeing

Goalkeeper Julio Cesar of Brazil, left, and Carlos Bacca of Colombia, center, vie for the ball during their 2014 FIFA World Cup quarterfinal match. (Marius Becker /EPA)

Colombians take their soccer very seriously. But 74-year-old lawyer Aurelio Jimenez is taking that seriousness to another level. He’s suing FIFA for roughly $1.3 billion after things did not turn out in Colombia’s favor during a World Cup quarterfinal match against Brazil, the BBC reports.

“I decided to sue FIFA in the Colombian judiciary system because in the past world soccer championship in Brazil, there were many wrongdoings related to referees who damaged many countries and their selections, among them the Colombia team,” Jimenez told the BBC.

“I felt very bad, I was heartbroken, my cardiac rhythm was altered and my relatives took me to the emergency room at the hospital. I was surrounded by my grandchildren who were crying a lot,” he added.

Jimenez puts particular blame on Carlos Velasco Carballo, the Spanish referee who called the Colombia vs. Brazil quarterfinal on July 4. He told BBC he even has has “evidence” in “testimonies of [soccer] stars Pele, Diego Armando Maradona, David Ospina, James Rodriguez and international referees who examined the videos of the game between Brazil and Colombia.”

Rodriguez and Ospina may not be the best eyewitnesses, however, as they played in the match that ended with a 2-1 Brazil win.

Jimenez isn’t alone, though, with his criticism of Carballo. The day after the match, many complained of Carballo’s inability to control players on both sides. Carballo doled out four cards — all yellow — and called 54 fouls in the chippy match. Many say his lack of more serious disciplinary action is what led to Colombian player Juan Camilo Zuniga’s sloppy challenge on Neymar that fractured the Brazilian’s back. (Neymar has since recovered.)

“Carballo wore the referee’s kit, but he wasn’t in charge for this quarterfinal in Fortaleza,” former World Cup referee Graham Poll wrote for the Daily Mail. “The second half of a promising game deteriorated into a petty, ugly affair in which Carballo was happy to award free kicks but nothing else — until it was too late.”

These types of complaints when it comes to soccer refereeing are inherent to the sport, however, since multiple on-field referees and the use of video replay is not permitted. Basically, all the game rulings fall to one person, who may or may not have gotten a good view of the action depending on where he or she is situated on the pitch.

That inherent subjectivity in soccer refereeing is one of the reasons why Jimenez is unlikely to succeed in his case, despite whatever “evidence” of “wrongdoing” he claims to have. But his case may succeed in adding to the increasingly loud calls to allow for a change in how soccer games are called.

The Netherlands has been leading the charge, developing technologies and systems to all video replays during matches. They recently announced they would be introducing their innovations to FIFA, calling instant replay “video referees” as the “future in football.”

In the small chance Jimenez is successful in withdrawing money from FIFA’s coffers, though, he tells the BBC that the damages would go to the government and earmarked to improve the welfare of Colombia’s children.

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.



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