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Jorge Luis Larrionda Pietrafesa (born March 9, 1968) is a FIFAmarker football referee from Uruguaymarker who has officiated at international matches since 2000. He is currently one of the world's top referees, having had the highest moment of his career during the 2006 FIFA World Cup, in which he officiated four matches, including a semifinal between Portugalmarker and Francemarker. However, his refereeing style has also won him many critics, especially because of the high number of red cards he usually shows. Larrionda has made several controversial decisions during matches involving the United States, and is a often viewed as villain amongst American fans.

Larrionda is also well-known in South America, having participated in countless matches of continental competitions such as the Copa Libertadores and the Campeonato Uruguayo. In 2006, he officiated at the first leg of the Libertadores final match between Internacional and S√£o Paulo, sending off two players for violent play.

He was preselected as a referee for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

International career prior to 2006

Prior to the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Larrionda officiated 34 games internationally in matches in the 2001 Copa America, 2002 World Cup qualifying matches for CONMEBOL and CONCACAF, the 2003 Confederations Cup, the 2004 Olympics, the 2004 Libertadores Cup, the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship and Under-17 World Championship, and 2006 World Cup CONMEBOL qualifying matches.

2002 suspension

Larrionda was selected as a referee for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, but was suspended for six months by the Uruguayan Football Association two days after his selection, and was dropped from the list of referees. The organization cited "irregularities" which were not specified. Larrionda was one of five referees suspended for what the president of the Uruguayan board described as "irregularities that were denounced by other referees." The suspensions reportedly arose from accusations of corruption between members of rival Uruguayan soccer officials unions.

2006 FIFA World Cup qualifier

Larrionda officiated over a 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifier held October 13, 2004 between Brazil and Colombia at Maceio, Brazil. In the 68th minute, Colombia had a goal disallowed for a questionable offside call, and in the 70th minute, Brazil also did not score a goal for a shot that bounced downward from the crossbar, though replays indicated penetration of the goal line by at least half a meter. The match ended in a draw.

2006 FIFA World Cup

Larrionda was selected again to officiate for the 2006 World Cup. He refereed the Angola - Portugal match (June 11), which went without incident.

United States v Italy

Larrionda's second assignment in the 2006 World Cup was the June 17 match Italy - United States.

After the match, he became a target of criticism from a few Britishmarker and Americanmarker television commentators. In this game, Larrionda became the fourth referee to send off three players in a single World Cup finals match, after sending off Italy's Daniele De Rossi for an elbow to the cheek of Brian McBride, United States' Pablo Mastroeni for a two-footed tackle, and Eddie Pope for a late tackle which saw Pope receiving his second yellow card.In total for the match, Larrionda issued four yellow and three red cards; all but one of the cards were issued during the first 47 minutes of the match.

Print and online journalists both supported and opposed his performance, and U.S. coach Bruce Arena stopped short of criticizing Larrionda directly when he said that generally, bookings had been excessive in the tournament. South American press, however, was overwhelmingly favorable to his performance in the match, as was FIFA, which endorsed the referee's performance, in line with International Football Association Board guidelines to crack down on violent play.

Media reaction

Larrionda's performance drew especially harsh criticism from commentators and analysts on ABC and the BBC, who cited the inconsistency of foul calls between the earlier and later portions of the match. ABC's Marcelo Balboa and Eric Wynalda and the BBC's Chris Waddle characterized his ejection of Mastroeni as a "make-up" or "even-up" call for the earlier red shown to Italy, with Alexi Lalas questioning the need for a make-up call, adding "did [DeRossi] not elbow [McBride] directly in the face?" Waddle also said the officials were "rubbish" and incapable of officiating the tournament. Another BBC report, however, claimed that he was "left with little option" other than sending Mastroeni off.[301730]

Articles published after the match were not in agreement over the quality of Larrionda's calls. Opinions in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Chicago Sun-Times and Bangkok Post challenged the referee; The Times and The Sunday Telegraph of London, Germany's Der Spiegel, and America's Sports Illustrated supported his decisions.

The Associated Press reported on the following day that FIFA communications director Markus Siegler said the red card issued to De Rossi, which drew blood, was appropriate. Siegler was not quoted on the other ejections in the match, but he said that generally, FIFA was pleased with the quality of officiating in the tournament.

Two days after the match, Wynalda said he had rushed to judgement in his complaint about Larrionda's ejection of Mastroeni, noting that the tackle was reckless.

Player and coach reaction

In a post-game comment, Pope disagreed with the red card issued to Mastroeni but was silent about his own dismissal. The day after the match, U.S. coach Bruce Arena did not voice a grievance against Larrionda specifically, agreeing with the referee's offside call that disallowed an American goal, and deferring to his judgement for the red card against Mastroeni and the second yellow card against Pope, but complained that generally, FIFA was punishing fouls too severely in the tournament.

Remainder of tournament

Larrionda was chosen to officiate a third pool-play match, between France and Togo. His performance produced less criticism in the media.

On 28 June FIFA announced that Larrionda would be one of the final group of 12 referees retained for the remainder of the tournament, and on 2 July he was appointed to officiate the second semi final between Portugal and France (July 5).

France v Portugal

Larrionda officiated the France-Portugal semifinal on July 5, 2006. In the 32nd minute, Larrionda awarded a penalty kick to France for a foul by Ricardo Carvalho on Thierry Henry. The shot was taken successfully by Zinedine Zidane. The kick was the only goal of the game, and France won 1-0.. Larrionda later ignored a penalty kick request from Cristiano Ronaldo, a move for which he was criticized by the Portuguese coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Reporters noted that the game was colored by dives and play-acting, but Larrionda gave out only two yellow cards in the match. He booked Ricardo Carvalho of Portugal in 83rd minute and Louis Saha of France in the 87th. Both players were already carrying yellows, and thus missed the third place match and final, respectively, due to card accumulation.

2009 FIFA Confederations Cup

Larrionda was selected as a referee for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.

United States v Spain

By this point often humorously referred to as "Jorge F****n' Larrionda" by many U.S. soccer fans, Larrionda took charge of the 2009 Confederations Cup semifinal, in which the United Statesmarker upset Spainmarker 2-0. He issued four yellow cards in the match, two to each side, as well as a straight red to the USA's Michael Bradley late in the game. The card drew strong criticism from American commentators at ESPN and Fox Sports. David Mosse, writing for, described the card as "questionable" and the resulting suspension - which forced Bradley to miss the final against Brazil - as "cruel." The Guardian, while not commenting on the suspension, described the challenge for which Bradley was sent off as "heavy." In his match report, Larrionda accused Bradley of angrily confronting him following the game, earning the American an additional 3 match suspension.


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