Argentine ref Elizondo gets World Cup final

July 6, 2006

FIFA have given their ultimate backing to Argentinian referee Horacio Elizondo, the match official who sent off Wayne Rooney, by choosing him to take charge of the World Cup final on Sunday.

Elizondo dismissed the England striker for stamping on Ricardo Carvalho's groin before Sven-Goran Eriksson's side went on to lose the quarter-final on penalties to Portugal.

Rooney has been charged with violent conduct by FIFA and the Football Association are supporting his claims that the stamp was unintentional and that he should not have been sent off.

However FIFA have shown their view very clearly and Elizondo, who was also in charge of the opening match of the tournament, will referee the final between Italy and France in Berlin's Olympic Stadium.

It means Rooney is almost certain to pick up a suspension, probably of two or three matches.

Lennart Johansson, the president of FIFA's World Cup organising committee, said Elizondo's red card had been absolutely correct.

He said: 'I was at the game and I had a different opinion when I first saw the incident from the stands and then later on television.

'But having seen the replay, in my opinion he was absolutely right to send him off.

'I also saw this referee in opening match and I did not notice him much which is a very good thing - much better than if you see a referee who says 'here comes the king of the road'.

Elizondo once red-carded David Beckham when Manchester United were playing Mexican side Necaxa in the first game of the 2000 World Club Championship in Brazil.

Since then, Elizondo, 42, has officiated at the Olympic Football tournament in 2004, and the opening match of this World Cup between Germany and Costa Rica.

He created some controversy during South Korea's match v Switzerland when he overruled his linesman's offside flag and allowed Alexander Frei to make it 2-0.

The official correctly spotted the ball had come off the leg of a Korean defender but he was surrounded by angry players after allowing the goal.

Elizondo, a PE teacher, speaks English as well as Spanish, and lists his interests as playing golf and writing poems.

Meanwhile, FIFA's disciplinary committee should deal with Rooney's case tomorrow, as well as the charges against Argentina players following their involvement in a fracas after their penalty shoot-out defeat to Germany.