Mexico coach Javier Aguirre seemed significantly more composed on Sunday evening than the media, a large contingent of which was English. FIFA can only thank whoever it believes in that general-secretary Jerome Valcke's briefing took place before the latest refereeing disasters.
Nicolas Maingot, the spokesman conducting the daily briefing, met a barrage of questions even after stating that FIFA does not comment on individual refereeing decisions and that neither he nor the spokesman for the local organising committee, also present, could comment on supervision.
If you can't, who can, asked one. Is Mr (Sepp) Blatter (the FIFA president) available, asked another. This is a news day and you owe it to us to present someone who has answers. How is football different from other sports that have embraced technology? How long will FIFA let itself be made a laughing stock? The questions flowed faster than England's attacks in Bloemfontein. All were met with different versions of Maingot's stock reply: no comment.
Contrast this with Aguirre's reply after the 1-3 loss to Argentina, where Carlos Tevez being yards off-side during the first goal played a big part. "The first goal was off-side. We lost concentration afterwards. But I don't want to say much about the referees. They are human and make split-second decisions that can ruin everything," he said. Mexico went out in the round of 16, losing to the same opponents as four years ago.
Diego Maradona's response was almost philosophical. “Errors may happen,” the Argentina coach said of the incident that helped his team go ahead and led to a half-time skirmish. The man with the 'Hand of God' even said the goal looked normal.
Fabio Capello, whose difficulty with the English language seemed significantly less than getting the Three Lions to protect their own lair, though, spoke of “five referees who can't decide whether it's goal or no goal” after Frank Lampard's goal was disallowed.
There's been no change yet to FIFA's stand on refusing to use video technology, saying it takes away the human element from the game. On Saturday, Valcke said FIFA would meet after the World Cup to discuss refereeing but ruled out using video technology (of the kind used in F-1, cricket, tennis, rugby and field hockey), saying instead there could be officials on the goal-line to help the referee and his assistants.
Even before Sunday's double whammy, at least one decision had been contentious. Mali referee Koman Coulibaly disallowed Michael Edu's goal from a Landon Donovan free-kick against Slovenia in a group C game.
On Sunday, first Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda and his compatriot and assistant Mauricio Espinosa didn't see Lampard's strike go in. About two hours later at Soccer City, Italian Roberto Rosetti, 43, multi-lingual and wiser with experience of officiating the Euro 2008 final, and compatriot Stefano Ayroldi got it wrong when Tevez headed home Lionel Messi's chip. Forget their being at least two defenders, including the goalkeeper, for Tevez to not be off-side, there were none.
This isn't the first time referees have been in the line of fire at World Cups. FIFA current stand ensures it won't be the last either.