RIO DE JANEIRO — FIFA's head of refereeing has declined to criticize a controversial penalty decision in Brazil's opening World Cup win over Croatia — but said everyone makes mistakes.
Brazil striker Fred fell to the ground after minimal contact with Croatia's Dejan Lovren in Thursday's Group A game and Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura pointed to the spot. Neymar converted in the 71st minute to make it 2-1 and Brazil went on to win 3-1.
"We are human," Massimo Busacca, head of FIFA's refereeing department, said Friday. "There is not one human in life that is not committing a mistake. It's part of life. The referee lives with this responsibility."
Busacca said Nishimura "had a very good position" to make the call. He showed reporters one still frame of the incident, but did not show a video replay of the disputed penalty sequence.
Busacca did not say if he thought the decision was correct. And he did not say if Nishimura would referee more games. He said the game evaluation would be based on 90 minutes, not just one call.
One reporter suggested the call was a mistake
"Mistake," Busacca repeated. "It is your opinion. I let you think it if you want."
Nishimura refereed four matches at the 2010 World Cup and is remembered for sending off Brazil defender Felipe Melo in his team's quarterfinal exit against the Netherlands.
Nishimura and Busacca were teammates as referees at the tournament in South Africa.
Busacca argued the role of the referee was part of the charm of the game, prompting debates. He said some kind of video replay system might help settle debates, but acknowledged a game can turn in one moment.
"This is a World Cup," he said. "One decision can change a lot."
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