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World Cup: Choice of referee might dictate the pace of final match

World Cup: Choice of referee might dictate the pace of final match
Italian referee Nicolas Rizzoli was given the nod for Sunday's World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. (Juan Mabromata / AFP / Getty Images)

Only in soccer does the announcement of a referee rise to the level of breaking news. So, with Nicola Rizzoli of Italy chosen to officiate the World Cup finale, let the speculation begin.

Will the European display bias toward Germany, with which Italy shares a border?

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Having worked two of their games, will his familiarity with the Argentines help or hinder them?

As an architect, will he get distracted from the action while assessing the design of the stadium?

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In truth, the only relevant consideration is how tightly Rizzoli will police the match, particularly with waving the yellow card as a deterrent to rough stuff.

If his reputation meets reality Sunday, Rizzoli will not be hesitant to reach for the card, which may have played into his selection. Many of his colleagues have been ripped for a reluctance to show the yellow -- perhaps under orders from FIFA to keep the star players between the sidelines.

Through 63 games, 178 yellows (along with 10 reds) have been issued, well below the pace of 2010, which totaled 241 bookings. The aversion to yellow by Carlos Velasco Carballo was cited as a factor in the build-up of excessive contact that culminated with the back injury to Brazil's Neymar.

Besides the two earlier Argentina gigs, Rizzoli presided over the Netherlands' 5-1 rout of Spain. If the pleasing, free-flowing nature of that match carries over to Sunday and the violence is kept in tow, the pick will become a welcome one.

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