Soccer Federation Releases 20 Referees : World Cup: Their services are no longer required because teams from their homelands have qualified for the quarterfinals.

From Associated Press

Leading international soccer referees Luigi Agnolin, George Courtney and Zoran Petrovic were released from their World Cup duties today because teams from their homelands have qualified for the quarterfinals.

FIFA told 20 of the 36 tournament referees that their services are no longer required, including all those whose home countries have made it to the final eight.

Among those sent home were Italians Agnolin and Tullio Lanese, Englishman Courtney, Yugoslav Petrovic and West German Aron Schmidhuber.

Petrovic had been considered among the favorites to handle the July 8 final in Rome.


“It’s bad luck,” FIFA spokesman Andreas Herren said. “If a team qualifies for the quarterfinal, then you can’t have its referee (continue).”

Agnolin and Soviet referee Alexei Spirin both were criticized by FIFA Secretary-General Sepp Blatter for making mistakes during the first round of the tournament. It is doubtful if Agnolin would have been retained even if Italy had been eliminated.

Spirin was among those released.

Argentina’s qualification for the last eight also meant an early exit from the tournament for Argentine referee Jean Loustau, who incensed the West German team by sending off striker Rudi Voeller during its second-round win over the Netherlands.

Other referees released included Belgian Marcel van Langenhove, Allan Snoddy of Northern Ireland and East German Siegfried Kirschen.

Brazilian referee Jose Ramiz Wright is among the favorites to referee the final, along with Kurt Roethlisberger of Switzerland, Mexican Edgardo Codesal and Frenchman Michel Vautrot.

Roethlisberger will handle the Argentina-Yugoslavia quarterfinal in Florence on Saturday and Codesal has Cameroon-England in Naples on Sunday.