Horacio Elizondo

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Horacio Elizondo
Full name Horacio Marcelo Elizondo
Born (1963-11-04) 4 November 1963 (age 52)
Quilmes, Argentina

Horacio Marcelo Elizondo (born November 4, 1963 in Quilmes) is a former Argentine international football referee best known for his officiation throughout the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Having achieved all his goals in refereeing,[1] Elizondo retired after the December 10 match between Boca Juniors and Lanús,[2] 3 years before the compulsory retirement age of 45.


Elizondo completed studies in physical education, and started refereeing after finishing the AFA course. His debut in the Argentine first division was in the Deportivo Español vs. Belgrano de Córdoba match in 1992. He was named international in 1994, and directed his first international match on October 9, 1996 between Ecuador and Colombia for the 1998 World Cup qualifications.[3]

2006 FIFA World Cup[edit]

Elizondo was appointed to represent Argentina in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, together with country fellow assistants Darío García and Rodolfo Otero.[4] He officiated three group games: Germany-Costa Rica, Czech Republic-Ghana, and Switzerland-South Korea. He also took charge of the England-Portugal quarterfinal, as well as the final game between Italy and France, becoming the first referee in World Cup history to referee both the opening and final games of one World Cup (English referee George Reader also officiated the first and last matches of Brazil 1950, but the last one, also known as Maracanazo, was not technically a final). Elizondo handed out a total of 29 cards in the tournament, three of which were red, for an average of 5.8 cards per game.

Germany vs. Costa Rica[edit]

Elizondo took charge of the opening game of the tournament between Germany and Costa Rica, which Germany won 4-2. Elizondo handed out only one yellow card, to Costa Rica’s Danny Fonseca. The match had a total of 22 fouls and 6 offsides, both statistics split evenly between the two teams.[5] FIFA's president of the World cup organizing committee Lennart Johansson praised Elizondo performance at the match, saying "I also saw this referee in the opening match and I did not notice him much which is a very good thing."[6]

Czech Republic vs. Ghana[edit]

His following match, the Czech Republic 0-2 Ghana group game, was slightly more contentious. In the 66th minute he gave a straight red card to Czech player Tomáš Ujfaluši for a professional foul in the box, awarding a penalty to Ghana. He then gave a yellow card to Asamoah Gyan when he took the penalty kick prematurely. Gyan missed his second attempt.

Elizondo also booked Czech player Vratislav Lokvenc and Ghanaian players Otto Addo, Michael Essien, Derek Boateng and Sulley Muntari, for a total of seven cards. He called 12 fouls against the Czech Republic and 20 against Ghana. He further ruled the Czechs offside 6 times and Ghanaians 9 times.[7]

Switzerland vs. South Korea[edit]

Elizondo was also the referee in the Switzerland 2-0 Korea group game. Elizondo handed out nine yellow cards and no red cards during the match. He booked five Swiss players: Philippe Senderos, Hakan Yakın, Raphael Wicky, Christoph Spycher and Johan Djourou. The four Koreans to pick up cards were: Park Chu-Young, Kim Jin-Kyu, Choi Jin-Cheul and Lee Chun-Soo. Elizondo called 7 fouls against Switzerland and 19 against South Korea. There were a total of six offsides calls, split evenly between the two teams.[8]

Elizondo accidentally physically touched the ball as it was in play, and thereby interrupting a Korean player's pass. Additionally, he disallowed two Swiss handballs in the penalty box, and awarded the Swiss a controversial goal overruling the assistant referee Rodolfo Otero's raised offside flag. Several players, including two defenders, Kim Jin-Kyu and Choi Jin-Cheul, who were following Alexander Frei stopped playing when they saw the flag, expecting it to be accompanied by the referee's whistle.

However no whistle was blown that would have signaled a halt in the game. The ball was put into the path of Alexander Frei after being hit by Lee Ho's foot. According to some commentators and media, Lee Ho's action was not a mere deflection but an intentional move, which would make the offside void, supporting Elizondo's decision.[9] Korean players and staff protested against the decisions by the referee, and Korea's coach Dick Advocaat was livid to the point that he had to be cautioned twice by the referee. A few days later, though, Advocaat relented and agreed that the decision to allow Switzerland's second goal was correct.[10] Elizondo's decisions have caused anger among Koreans, many of whom sent e-mails of protest to the official FIFA website. FIFA decided to take the strong step of blocking Korean Internet access to its website due to receiving too many protest e-mails from Korea. FIFA spokesman Pekka Odriozola said "FIFA's new media department detected this organized attack coming from Korea and, basically, had to block the messages from Korea to fifa.com to protect the Web site".[11] In addition, many Koreans have left negative comments on the website of the Swiss embassy in Korea, and one man has been arrested for threatening to bomb the Swiss embassy in Seoul.[12]

England vs. Portugal[edit]

Elizondo was the referee in the England 0-0 Portugal quarter-final, which Portugal won 3-1 on penalties. Elizondo gave yellow cards to Ricardo Carvalho and Petit of Portugal and to Owen Hargreaves and John Terry of England, as well as a straight red card to England's Wayne Rooney, for a total of 5 cards. He was criticised for his performances from neutrals and England fans. Elizondo called 18 fouls on England and 10 on Portugal, found Portugal offsides 3 times and England none.[13]

In the 62nd minute, Elizondo sent off Rooney after he stood on Ricardo Carvalho's groin and then lightly pushed Cristiano Ronaldo after the whistle had been blown. Portugal players, including Rooney's Manchester United team mate Ronaldo then urged Elizondo to take action.[14] Elizondo later confirmed that it was the kick on Carvalho that led to the red card.[15] Outside England, Elizondo and Rooney's red card has not been an issue, however Wayne Rooney said he was upset by the decision and believes that the red card was unjustified, claiming that he was off balance and had been trying to keep his balance so was not aware of Carvalho.[16] The Football Association has supported Rooney,[17] while England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson deferred to Elizondo's decision, saying "I went to the referee to speak and he was 100 percent sure it was a red card. He told me he hit the other player and where he was hit so I can't complain about that."[18]

FIFA requested an explanation from Rooney regarding his conduct during the game; this is standard practice when the referee reports violent conduct. Rooney received a two match ban and was fined 5,000 Swiss francs for the incident.[19] FIFA could have banned him for up to five games.

World Cup Final[edit]

Elizondo was the referee for the Final of the tournament in Berlin on July 9, between France and Italy.[20] He awarded France a penalty after Florent Malouda went down in the box under limited contact from Marco Materazzi. In the 53rd minute, France had a strong claim for another penalty turned down after Malouda once again went down in the box, this time after a challenge from Gianluca Zambrotta.[21]

Elizondo gave Zinedine Zidane a red card after he headbutted Marco Materazzi in the chest in the 110th minute after a verbal dispute between the two players. France coach Raymond Domenech said the fourth official, Luis Medina Cantalejo from Spain, broke the rules and looked at video replays when making the decision. If correct, this would have been the first use of a video replay by an official during a World Cup match.[22] However, FIFA officials said that Elizondo and his assistants acted properly in the matter.[23]

Other competitions[edit]

Among the several international competitions in which he participated are the Copa América of 1997 and 1999), the U-17 World Cup of 1997 and 2005, the U-20 World Youth Championships of 2003 and 2005, the Olympic Games of 2004, and the FIFA Club World Championship of 2000.[24] In the latter, he showed a red card to David Beckham in the tie between Manchester United and Necaxa.[25]

He also refereed in the final matches of the 2002 and 2005 Copa Libertadores de América. In the 2005 tournament the two Brazilian finalist teams São Paulo FC and Atlético Paranaense lobbied Conmebol to have Elizondo as the main referee.

On August 16, 2006 Elizondo refereed the second final of the 2006 Copa Libertadores.[26]

Elizondo broke the Argentine First Division record showing 12 yellow cards on August 19 in the match between Boca Juniors and Independiente. The media, though, supported most of his decisions.[27]

In the annual world referee ranking of the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS), Elizondo was positioned 5th in 2001,[28] 12th in 2005 [29] and 1st in 2006.[30]


Event Games Yellow card.svg Yellowred card.svg Red card.svg
2006 Copa Libertadores 6 31 2 2
2006 FIFA World Cup qualification (CONMEBOL) 9 28 0 1
2006 FIFA World Cup 5 26 0 3
Total 20 85 2 6


  1. ^ "Hay que darles paso a los más jóvenes" - Olé newspaper.
  2. ^ "Sonó el pitazo final" - Olé newspaper.
  3. ^ FIFA - 'Horacio Elizondo: “Referees need to be clinical'". Retrieved June 1, 2006. Archived January 15, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Prensa Latina - "Elizondo representará al arbitraje argentino". Retrieved June 1, 2006.
  5. ^ "– "Germany-Costa Rica ESPN Match Report."". Soccernet.espn.go.com. 2006-06-09. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  6. ^ "– "Argentine ref Elizondo gets World Cup final"". Soccernet.espn.go.com. 2006-07-06. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  7. ^ "– "Ghana 2-0 Czech Republic ESPN Match Report"". Soccernet.espn.go.com. 2006-06-17. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  8. ^ "Switzerland 2-0 South Korea ESPN Match Report". Soccernet.espn.go.com. 2006-06-23. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  9. ^ , though many Koreans claim it was a deflection."Suiza venció a Corea del Sur y se clasificó" - Clarín (Spanish)
  10. ^ "World-South Korea take credit after controversial exit" - Reuters
  11. ^ "FIFA blocks e-mails from South Korea". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). Associated Press. 2006-06-26. 
  12. ^ S. Korean man booked for threatening to blow up Swiss Embassy
  13. ^ "– "England 0-0 Portugal ESPN Match Report"". Soccernet.espn.go.com. 2006-07-01. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  14. ^ "England 0-0 Portugal". BBC. 2006-07-01. Retrieved 2006-07-02. 
  15. ^ Simon Fudge (2006-07-04). "Elizondo clears Ronaldo". Sky Sports. Retrieved 2006-07-04. 
  16. ^ "Rooney insists he didn't deserve red card". Fox Sports. 2006-07-02. Retrieved 2006-07-02. 
  17. ^ "FA respond over Rooney red card". Fox Sports. 2006-08-04. Retrieved 2006-08-04. 
  18. ^ "Sven: Don't kill off Rooney". Sky Sports. 2006-07-02. Retrieved 2006-07-06. 
  19. ^ "Red card Rooney gets two-match ban". CNN. 2006-08-02. Retrieved 2006-08-02. [dead link]
  20. ^ "Elizondo chosen as Cup final ref". BBC. 2006-07-06. Retrieved 2006-07-06. 
  21. ^ "Cup final will be remembered for ugliness". Fox Soccer. 2006-07-06. Retrieved 2006-07-06. 
  22. ^ "Zidane shame as Italy triumph in Berlin". London: Daily Mail. 2006-02-02. Retrieved 2006-06-10. 
  23. ^ "Fifa denies video evidence claims". BBC. 2006-07-10. Retrieved 2006-07-12. 
  24. ^ CONMEBOL - "Horacio Elizondo: 'Es vital para el réferi conocer bien a sus colaboradores'". Retrieved June 1, 2006. Archived October 27, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ BBC news - "Beckham off in Man Utd epic". Retrieved June 1, 2006.
  26. ^ "Elizondo dirigirá la segunda final de la Libertadores". Clarin (Argentina). 2006-08-07. Retrieved 2006-08-16. 
  27. ^ "Tiene otro record" -Olé sports newspaper.
  28. ^ RSSSF - "IFFHS' World's Best Referee of the Year 1987-2004". Retrieved June 1, 2006.
  29. ^ IFFHS - "The World's best Referee 2005". Retrieved June 1, 2006.
  30. ^ RSSSF - "IFFHS' World's Best Referee of the Year 2006". Retrieved February 23, 2007.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
FIFA World Cup Final 2002
Italy Pierluigi Collina
FIFA World Cup Final Referees
Final 2006
Argentina Horacio Elizondo
Succeeded by
FIFA World Cup Final 2010
England Howard Webb