Yuichi Nishimura: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Yuichi Nishimura, Dejan Lovren, Sime Vrsaljko, Nikica Jelavic, Ivan Rakitic , Foul on Fred

Croatian players Dejan Lovren, Sime Vrsaljko, Nikica Jelavic and Ivan Rakitic complain to Yuichi Nishimura after Nishimura awarded Brazil the decisive penalty kick. (Getty)

Yuichi Nishimura didn’t make a lot of friends in Croatia Thursday. The veteran referee called a foul in the second half of the World Cup opener after Brazilian player Fred took a dive on this play:

Fans were even more irate about the call when Neymar scored on the ensuing penalty kick to give Brazil a 2-1 lead in what turned out to be a 3-1 Brazil win.

“Bad call” and “terrible call” were trending on Twitter immediately after the call, which pundits are pointing to as the turning point in the game and a call that denied Croatia at least a tie.

Read on for more about Nishimura’s background and career:

1. He’s Being Ripped to Shreds by Fans & Pundits Across the Globe

Dejan Lovren, Ivan Rakitic, Yuichi Nishimura, World Cup opener, Foul on Fred

Croatia’s Dejan Lovren (left) and Ivan Rakitic express their displeasure with Nishimura. (Getty)

Fans, pundits and columnists have not been kind to Nishimura. Fred’s dive was so absurd that it immediately generated a wave of parody vines and memes mocking it.

And that was before the game ended. Had Croatia come back to win or at least tie, Nishimura might have been spared the worst of the criticism. But Croatia never recovered from the penalty and ensuing goal, leaving Nishimura as the most ridiculed man in soccer on the tournament’s first day.

Eurosport’s Desmond Kane summed up the thoughts of fans throughout the world in an unrelenting column:

Neymar scored goals in either half, the second from the penalty spot on 71 minutes, but such happenings could not have occurred without the contribution of the wretched Mr Nishimura. Asia’s referee of the year in 2012 chose the biggest match of his career to turn in a horrid performance. Again, really well done, old sport.

2. The Angolan Team Was Suspended for 5 Years After Pushing Him in 2008

yuichi Nichimura


After the quarterfinal of the 2008 African Cup of Nations between Anglona and Egypt, Nichimura was not chosen to officiate the remaining matches in the tournament after failing to red-card Angolan players after players pushed him during the game.

The entire Angolan team was banned for five years for its role in the incident.

3. He Tossed Felip Melo in Brazil’s 2010 Quarterfinal Loss to Holland

Nishimura may be on Brazil fans’ good side today, but that sure wasn’t the case in 2010, when he tossed Brazilian midfielder Felip Melo after Melo stomped on Holland’s Arjen Robben during the 2010 World Cup quarterfinals. You can watch the video of the play above.

Brazil was trailing 2-1 at the time of the penalty and had little chance to come back with Melo out.

Nishimura also gave out first red card of the tournament to Uruguayan midfielder Nicolás Lodeiro after first presenting him with two yellow cards.

4. He Was the Only Asian Referee in the 2008 African Cup of Nations

yuichi Nichimura


Nichimura, who’s from Japan, was the only Asian referee chosen to officiate the 2008 African Cup of Nations hosted by Ghana. In the tournament, he was also picked out of that pool of referees to be a part of a 3 person group to be judges at the tournament.

5. He Was Named the 2012 Best Men’s Referee of the Year

yuichi Nichimura


The Japanese Professional Football League awarded Nishimura with the Japanese League Referee of the Year consecutively in 2009 and 2010. After giving Nicolás Lodeiro in the 2010 FIFA World, carded him once again at the 2012 Olympic Games and was awarded the Best Men’s Referee of the Year by the Asian Football Confederation that same year.

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