Nishimura Penalty Decision Body Language

A well talked about incident but if you found this through Google, it’s very likely you will not find what you are looking for. This post does not focus on the accuracy of the decision.

Yuichi Nishimura (JAP) had the honour of officiating the opening match of the 2014 Brazil FIFA World Cup. I admired his officiating style throughout the match and one decision of his match was not forgotten. The penalty incident involving the Brazilian, Fred. Have a look.

I think it’s fair to say, point-blank, that this wasn’t a penalty. The yellow attacker falls with minimal contact and appeals. If you are wondering how this could have happened, see The Third Team’s explanation.

If there is one thing Nishimura did well during this decision, it was his body language. Anyone who watches the referee alone will have no doubt that the referee looked like he knew what he was doing. Very fluid and very firm.

Almost a split second after the fall, the whistle went and the referee pointed to the spot for a penalty kick. As a crowd of Croatian players began to well together, Nishimura quickly ran around them towards the goal line. This was for a very clear reason. It’s easier to identify players showing dissent from those that approach him over a distance. His eyes showed clear focus and a straight arm signal to the penalty mark left no doubt. He was awarding a penalty kick and it didn’t look like there would be any second thought about it.

As he crosses the goal line, he reaches into his pocket for the caution. Assumingly it was for the challenge. Regardless, it came out so fast and fluidly that I had to watch it at least five times before confirming he hadn’t conjured it with his hands and that it wasn’t actual magic.

Very decisive. Very firm.

All this may seem obvious but the mechanics and body language are an integral part of him selling the decision. Nevermind it being the wrong one, body language is very important and an excellent tool for referees to use. We use it all the time; sometimes negatively and sometimes positively.

Not to mention that this is one of the coolest ways I’ve seen to call a penalty!

2 comments on “Nishimura Penalty Decision Body Language

  1. Will says:

    This was vastly unappreciated. Buried under the facts of the decision, the mechanics were stylish, clear AND calculated to avoid confrontation. I haven’t had to award a PK since I saw it, but I will imitate his movement sometime, I’m sure.
    Furthermore, I have thought that the caution could have been for dissent. If a player has to chase you over the goal line to argue a decision… I think if FIFA wanted to make clear that mobbing the referee was unacceptable, the first game of the Cup was the place.

    • larbitre says:

      Excellent reasoning Will. I wholeheartedly agree. I was really hoping to see him again in this tournament. Might be bold of FIFA to give him the other semi-final or the final if Brazil aren’t there.

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