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July 07, 1994|WILLIAM TUOHY | Times London Bureau

British commentators strongly criticized the referees of Tuesday's two games. Of the Mexico-Bulgaria game, which Bulgaria won on penalty kicks, the Daily Mail's Kier Radnedge wrote: "The World Cup refereeing crisis intensified as a Syrian official who was plainly out of his depth did his level best to ruin a dramatic evening in Giants Stadium."

In what he called "nightmarish refereeing," Radnedge said, "Jamal Al-Sharif manufactured two expulsions of nonsensical irrationality."

The Daily Mirror newspaper added: "The game was ruined by ludicrous refereeing from Syria's Jamal Al-Sharif, who showed two soft cards and earlier awarded Mexico a dubious penalty."

And from San Francisco, Michael Hart in the London Evening Standard asked: "Can someone explain to me why Italy's Gianfranco Zola was sent off against Nigeria by the Mexican referee Arturo Brizio?

"Can someone explain why 196 players have been cautioned here in 44 games, compared with 163 during the entire tournament in Italy in 1990 and 135 in Mexico in 1986?

"Can someone explain why a total of 13 players have been sent off in the World Cup for some of the most innocuous misdemeanors I've ever seen?

"What we are witnessing is referees shooting form the hip like Wild West gunslingers. Book first and ask questions afterwards. One bemused U.S. TV commentator said: 'The referee seems to be giving his yellow card a lot of air time.'

"FIFA must go back to the drawing board because this is not a violent World Cup and the game doesn't need this cosmetic surgery."

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