Mexican ref got two big calls right

Uruguay's Luis Suarez reacts after clashing with Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during their 2014 World...

Uruguay's Luis Suarez reacts after clashing with Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during their 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match at the Dunas arena in Natal June 24, 2014. (REUTERS/Tony Gentile)

KURTIS LARSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:34 PM ET

MANAUS, Brazil -- Italians aren't going to like this.

Many soccer fans won't understand it.

Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez got two big calls correct in Tuesday's Group D decider, an eventual 1-0 Uruguay win.

First, "The Gnawing in Natal," as I've coined it.

Uruguay's Luis Suarez shouldn't play another World Cup game in 2014 after appearing to chomp down on Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini.

The evidence is damning, a clear bite mark inflicted by a repeat offender.

But for those slamming the referee's decision not to send Suarez off need to get a grip.

A referee can only punish what he sees. Marks on a player's body mean nothing after the fact.

As the incident was well away from the play, Rodriguez wasn't looking at Chiellini to fully absorb the incident. Replays show him facing the other way.

The assistant -- if he was even looking at Suarez and Chiellini in that moment -- was simply too far away.

This isn't the NFL; there's no in-game instant replay.

Any misplaced anger should be directed at Suarez, not Rodriguez, who people took issue with for a second-half red card he issued to Claudio Marchisio.

Going back to that incident, one that changed the complexion of the match, Marchisio's studs made contact just below Egidio Arevalo Rios's knee.

Although there appeared to be no intent on Marchisio's part, that excuse simply doesn't matter. According to the FIFA Laws of the Game, the reckless nature of an incident is enough to warrant a red card.

Surely, most would agree, putting cleats to someone's knee is reckless in nature.

In closing out this Italian job, although Rodriguez likely could have simply issued Marchisio a caution, it certainly wasn't surprising to see him pull out red.

Debatable? Maybe. Controversial? Not really.

Italy supporters should be ripping their team for losing to Costa Rica instead.

HOOLIGANS BRAWL

World Cup organizers hoped skirmishes would be limited to protests in Brazil's streets.

Until Monday, that appeared to be the case until a decent-sized brouhaha broke out in Recife's Arena Pernambuco.

To set the scene, an elimination match between Mexico and Croatia quickly turned into a 3-1 Mexican rout late in the second half -- a result that eliminated the Croatians from contention.

So, soccer hooligans here in Brazil did what soccer hooligans do: They started mixing it up.

Drinks were thrown, as were punches. Security teams even received a few bumps and bruises.

Both Croatian and Mexican fans have a history of starting disturbances in and around venues, making it even more bizarre that the stadium in Recife appeared to have limited security measures in place to handle the sudden disturbance.

Officials here took immense scrutiny last week after security measures at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro were breached multiple times by Argentine and Chilean fans, who rushed the venue in an attempt to see a match.

Here in Manaus, however, security measures couldn't be tighter.

On my way into Arena Amazonia this week, my bag was checked three times with the first checkpoint occurring at a military perimeter stationed more than a kilometer away from the stadium.

AXIS OF EVIL

Former U.S. President George W. Bush once referred to this group as the Axis of Evil.

No, not FIFA, the embattled organization running this World Cup.

You know, places like Iraq and North Korea. It appears a Sunni militant group has reached out to Lionel Messi about "joining the jihadist call.

News of the Argentine playmaker's two goals through two group games here in Brazil have apparently reached Iraq. According to a report from Arabic news agency Mahr, and translated by an English-language Iranian blog, the Islamic States of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are using Facebook and Twitter to congratulate Messi for his fantastic game-winner against Iran last weekend.

They've even asked him to join their cause, a proposition the 27-year-old will undoubtedly ignore.

The Islamic militant group has recently unsettled U.S. gains in Iraq in an effort to return to traditional -- some would say archaic -- Muslim traditions.

Think ISIS approaching the world's top player is a joke? You should see what the Internet has done with North Korea's feared leader.

During last weekend's Algeria-South Korea match, fans could only wonder what Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un was up to.

So, they began to guess, with one doctored image showing the kid dictator donning Algerian gear.

North Korea, you'll remember, qualified for the World Cup in 2010 before losing all three of its group games. They did, however, come close to stunning Brazil before falling 2-1 in a match that captivated the world.

GRINDING MY GEARS

Brazil is warm. It's not unbearable.

It's time for European squads -- along with their media -- to stop complaining, even blaming the weather for their misfortune.

One Italian reporter here Monday even went as far to point out that Italy's first two games were played in hotter, and more humid, conditions than Uruguay.

So what? Do they not realize teams in the Americas, Africa, Oceania and parts of Asia spend entire summers qualifying in these tropical conditions?

For instance, take Manaus, the Amazonian city I'm located in. The matches here have all been played after dark.

Those high, hellish average temperatures the media has been trying to convince you about? Those are daytime highs.

At night, it's actually manageable -- the reason we've seen two of the best matches in the tournament here.

Apparently European-based teams think the game is only played at 20C and sunny.

LAST WORD

News of LeBron's imminent move has reached the Brazilian rainforest. And, naturally, we all thought the same thing: When is MLSE top boss Tim Leiweke going to have Drake call King James? It worked on Jermain Defoe.


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