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:

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.

Clive Rose/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

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?

Claudio Villa/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

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

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

Images: Getty Images (2)