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Saturday, July 10, 2010
Head referee: 96 percent of calls correct

Associated Press

DERDEPOORT, South Africa -- Despite complaints about game-changing mistakes and FIFA's agreement to revisit how technology can help officials, the head of refereeing for soccer's governing body says that the World Cup has been a success.

Jose Maria Garcia-Aranda said Saturday that an analysis of the first 62 matches showed referees got more than 96 percent of their decisions right.

"It is a big success," the Spanish official said at a news briefing. "We have to say it is not an opinion [but] facts."

We are not hiding our mistakes or the mistakes of the referees on the field of play.

-- Jose Maria Garcia-Aranda,
FIFA's head of refereeing

FIFA acknowledged that referees made errors, though in "only a few" matches.

"We are not hiding our mistakes or the mistakes of the referees on the field of play," Garcia-Aranda said in a robust defense of FIFA's officiating program.

World Cup final referee Howard Webb agreed that mistakes had been made but said they were largely isolated.

"There is no point us sitting here as match officials and saying everything is absolutely perfect," said the 38-year-old Englishman, who is one of the few professional referees among the 29 FIFA selected for World Cup duty.

"But it's also right to point out that the vast majority of decisions have been very sound and very correct."

Referees were widely criticized after a series of mistakes in the first half of the tournament.

In the group stage, the United States was denied a likely winning goal late in its game against Slovenia, then a Brazil goal against Ivory Coast was allowed to stand despite two apparent handballs by Luis Fabiano leading up to it. Brazil's Kaka was ejected later in the same match when it appeared he and an Ivory Coast player collided accidentally.

The pressure was stepped up after errors by assistant referees affected the outcome of two second-round games. FIFA will revisit proposals to introduce goal-line technology in response to England being denied a clear goal, which would have tied its match against Germany 2-2 late in the first half. Germany went on to win 4-1.

Italian referee Roberto Rosetti has retired, three years before reaching the mandatory age to step down from duty, after he missed an offside call that allowed Argentina to score its first goal against Mexico. The Argentines went on to win, 3-1.

FIFA did not award control of another match to any of the four referees involved in the main controversies.

Garcia-Aranda said all of the errors have been studied carefully, and the referees' 96 percent accuracy rate favorably with the success of players taking penalty kicks.

Just nine of 15 penalties awarded during matches have been scored, a 60 percent accuracy rate.

"I think the refereeing in this tournament has been more than good," Garcia-Aranda said.