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Referee under fire

It seems FIFA are as quick to attack refereeing indiscretions as quickly as fans and media alike.

There was no support for referee Valentin Ivanov following last nights game between Holland and Portugal with FIFA president Sepp Blatter commenting:

"I consider the referee was not at the same level as the participants, the players. I think there could have been a yellow card for the referee."

I find it surprising that FIFA have not provided more support to the officials and they have been all too quick to apportion blame following a controversial decision, without taking into account the rules and guidelines that they lay down before tournaments.

The problem last night for Ivanov was the spate of yellow cards he handed out early in the game which left him in a vulnerable position if the game developed as it ultimately did. By handing out yellow cards for minor fouls (and not those covered by FIFA's guidelines) he then had no option but to keep handing yellow cards during that twenty minute spell. If anything, he was perhaps a little too lenient in the end as Figo and Deco certainly deserved straight red cards when they were issued with yellows.

It is all too easy to blame referees and Marco Van Basten has been vocal today but the players also have to take some responsibility as they sensed the referees lack of control and took advantage of it, in effect losing control themselves as they sought to even up the card count and get retribution for earlier 'injustices'.

What I did find laughable today though was talk of an attempt by Portugal to overturn Deco's first yellow card (thus cancelling out the sending of) as Holland contravened the spirit of fair play leading upto his 'challenge'.

Presumably - and in the same spirit of fair play, they will petition for Figo's yellow card to be upgraded to a red?