Croatia defender Vedran Corluka spoke with a lot more force than the contact that drew a decisive penalty in his nation’s World Cup-opening loss to Brazil on Thursday.
Eventually losing 3-1 after a controversial-at-best penalty call against Dejan Lovren that drastically-altered the complexion of the game, Croatia was fuming at referee Yuichi Nishimura after the game.
The controversial incident came after a ball was played into the box, Brazilian striker Fred bodied up on Lovren before hitting the turf after what many would call minor upper body contact. Nishimura called the surprising penalty.
“If this continues, I think no one should play against Brazil,” Corluka told Yahoo Sports. “We can just give them the World Cup and everyone can go home. [Nishimura] shouldn’t be allowed to referee another game.”
“I think it is embarrassing. It is embarrassing. Everyone who was watching saw that nothing happens. I didn’t see anything. I saw a touch on [Fred’s] body but [Lovren] didn’t even pull him. [Nishimura] was keen to give the penalty.”
The call was questionable at best. Now Croatia sits at the bottom of its group before Mexico and Cameroon complete Group A’s first set of matches on Friday afternoon, and has to wonder whether it could’ve shut down the hosts for another half-hour to gain a point or more.
Corluka was also critical of Nishimura communicating with players in Japanese, and was baffled that an English-speaking referee wasn’t assigned to the match (German and English are the two most-common languages, other than Croatian, spoken in Croatia).
“It’s ridiculous,” Croatia coach Niko Kovac said afterwards. “If we continue in this way, we will have a circus.”
“Brazil doesn’t need any help from the referees.”
Yet they received it, and a tournament watched by many received an inauspicious debut.