Croatia looked all set to hold Brazil to a stunning 1-1 draw in the first game of the tournament when referee Yuichi Nishimura made an extremely controversial call that likely changed the outcome of the game. Brazilian striker Fred was backing jockeying for position with Croatian defender Dejan Lovren in the box, when he fell backwards as a result of what looked like very minor upper body contact.
Nishimura awarded the Brazil the penalty kick and Neymar gave Brazil their first lead of the game, a lead they’d never relinquish. Croatian newspapers cried foul that a penalty for what looked like minor contact was awarded calling it an injustice.
“What can I say? I’m sad, I want to cry. Everyone saw that. It’s a scandal for FIFA. They talk about respect, they have meetings before the World Cup, FIFA people talk to us, and in the end, what happens? It’s better they give the World Cup to Brazil straight away,” said Lovren, via ESPN FC.
“I think we played well, and showed that we have the qualities to match Brazil, but not against 12 players. We now have to keep our heads up. I am sure than we can go through, but I still don’t understand how the referee could have given that. We saw the pictures in the dressing room after the game and everyone is still asking themselves that question.”
Croatia defender Vedran Corluka also spoke out against the penalty call saying FIFA should just give Brazil the trophy and stop wasting everyone’s time. Lovren also spoke out on Instagram with the following post.