RIO DE JANEIRO: Three of the referees who have most critical comment at the World Cup finals – Carlos Velasco, Yuichi Nishimura and Rashvan Irmatv – are among elite band of  15 retained for the closing stages of the tournament writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Spaniard Velasco refereed the contentious Brazil-Colombia game in which Neymar was injured, Nishimura is the Japanese official who gifted Brazil a penalty in the Opening Match against Croatia while Irmatov was the man who allowed Dutch goalkeeper Tim Krul t harass Costa Rica’s penalty takers in their quarter final shootout last Saturday.

Also retained is Jonas Eriksson, the Swede who incurred the Champions League wrath of Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini last season. Pellegrini questioned whether referees from “smaller countries” were up to the task.

Staying to the end of the fnals will be England’s Howard Webb who controlled the 2010 final between Spain and Holland.

Webb has been in charge for two matches – Colombia’s 2-1 victory against Ivory Coast in the group stage and the last- 16 meeting between Brazil and Chile. No referee has ever been awarded two World Cup finals.

Brazilian option

Only one referee from the four remaining countries in the tournament has been retained, Sandro Ricci from Brazil. Should Brazil lose their semi-final against Germany he will become a favourite to referee the final based not on his nationality but on his generally trouble-free performances.

Nicola Rizzoli of Italy is another referee who has impressed throughout the finals.

The semi-final between Brazil and Germany in Belo Horizonte will be refereed by the Mexican Marco Rodríguez who was in charge of the group game in which Uruguay’s Luis Suarez bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini.

Wednesday’s semi-final between Holland and Argentina in São Paulo is in the hands of  Cüneyt Çakir from Turkey.

Retained referees

Cuneyt Cakir (Tur)

Noumandiez Doue (IvCt)

Jonas Eriksson (Swe)

Mark Geiger (US)

Djamel Haimoudi (Alg)

Ravshan Irmatov (Uzb)

Yuichi Nichimura (Jpn)

Enrique Roberto Osses (Chile)

Pedro Proenca (Por)

Sandro Ricci (Brz)

Nicola Rizzoli (It)

Marco Rodriguez (Mex)

Carlos Velasco (Sp)

Carlos Vera (Ecd)

Howard Webb (Eng).