Who Will Referee Sunday's Argentina-Germany World Cup Final? Nicola Rizzoli Isn't New To The Championship

After all the highs and lows, the despair and the bite marks, the big moment is nearly upon us — the 2014 World Cup Final between Argentina and Germany, going down this Sunday. So who's going to be the referee? Well, his name is Nicola Rizzoli, a 42-year-old Italian referee who's worked two other Argentina games already in this tournament — first in their Group F victory over Nigeria, which they won with two goals from superstar forward Lionel Messi, and second in Saturday's victory against Belgium.

In that second Belgium match, some controversy sprung up around Rizzoli, thanks to Belgium's manager, Marc Wilmots. In the aftermath of his team's 1-0 defeat to the Argentines, Wilmots was pretty unhappy, both with the playing tactics of his opponents, and what he perceived as a biased performance by Rizzoli. In a news conference, he said:

I don’t want to be a cry baby but I noticed the referee never gives fouls against Argentina. Every time something happens with Messi the referee gives him a free-kick. I notice [Messi] made three fouls and no yellow card, we made one foul and one yellow card.

It's worth noting that the way global soccer fans tend to view referees is wildly different from how U.S. fans do in our major sports. That's because FIFA's been marred by match-fixing scandals throughout the years, like this troubling report by The New York Times in late May, and now allegations of corruption in the 2014 World Cup.

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The problem is so deep that FIFA's actually run an ad against match-fixing during broadcasts. For some good old American perspective, try to imagine a commercial at halftime of the Super Bowl saying "hey, let's all make sure the Super Bowl isn't rigged!" Hard to picture, right?

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FIFA's head of referees, Massimo Busacca, was quoted by The Guardian as dismissing Wilmots' claims, suggesting they're typical of complaining coaches.

I think the neutrality of the referees has been there in every game. If we pay attention on every single complaint the coaches make we will not select any more referees. If you have the best quality, then you should be given the best matches.

Regardless, Wilmots spinning the spotlight around does turn up the heat on Rizzoli in Sunday's game.

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