Joel Aguilar always goes for the final

When a referee didn’t turn up Joel Aguilar from El Salvador had to pick up the whistle. “When I was asked to be the referee I said no at first because I liked playing and in fact had poor relations with referees because I got sent off every so often,” Aguilar said to Reuters.

Joel Aguilar - World Cup referee from El Salvador.

Joel Aguilar – World Cup referee from El Salvador. (Screenshot from interview on SNTV).

“All of us who love football wish the national team to go to the World Cup. Given the choice between the team and a referee, everyone would pick the team, but I’m proud to be able to take part representing El Salvador,” Aguilar told Reuters. He even told SNTV later that going to the World Cup would be “the ultimate fiesta”. It’s the second World Cup of the Salvodoran referee, but he hasn’t yet officiated a match at this level. In South Africa he was only a 4ht official.

Joel Aguilar, a 39-year-old teacher, almost didn’t go to the 2010 World Cup as reserve referee. Because Fifa had a dispute with the Salvadoran football association FESFUT because of “government interference” in the El Salvador’s football. “Furthermore, during the period of suspension, FESFUT will not be able to be represented in any regional or international competitions,” said the Fifa statement. “For example, the refereeing trio selected for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa will not be able to participate in this competition if FESFUT remains suspended.”

Referee of USA – Costa Rica

Another moment you could remember Aguilar from is the 2014’s World Cup qualifier between the USA and Costa Rica. Heavy snow blizzard covered the field in white. The Costa Rican Football Federation wanted the match to be replayed, but Fifa throw out their demand. See here the match conditions:

The conclusion on the website of Soccer Referees USA:
“Also, the safety of the players is crucial and of paramount importance. Somewhat surprisingly here, despite very difficult field conditions, both teams played a clean game and no serious foul play occurred. Moreover, it appeared that, after the referee stopped the game in the second half to evaluate the situation, both teams tried to persuade him to let the game continue. Still, Mr. Aguilar made a risky decision when he permitted the game to continue.” Please comment below if you’d have let play continue.

World Cup preparation

After the 2010 World Cup the carreer of Aguilar progressed rapidly. He refereed both 2011 and 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup Finals. This tournament is held every two years by national teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

On the day that Fifa announced the World Cup referees the boss of Salvadoran referees, Luis Iraheta, announced that “it was an honour for the country” that Joel and his team were selected. “I can also tell you that Joel is the number one referee on the ConCaCaf list right now”, he proudly told.

Joel Aguilar finished the national season with the clash between Dragón and Isidro Metapán. “We take all the responsibility to be there to enjoy the game because it is a final, but we obviously take our responsibilities. But it is not easy to maintain the trust that the authorities always give you”, Aguilar said. “But you have to earn the trust of players, officials and press, and not just the authorities.

Aguilar is happy that he could officiate the national final. “I’m very happy , he said in EDH Deportes. “As referees you always want to officiate the final round of a competition”. With that spirit the Salvadoran referee moves to Brazil on Saturday 31st of May with his assistants Juan Francisco Zumba and William Torres will go to Brazil. Aguilar, who picked up the national flag to take it to Brazil, says just before he left to his second World Cup: “we want to uphold the name of El Salvador when we are in Brazil”.

World Cup referee facts and statistics

Referees in this World Cup are mild to the players according to the card stats. They’ve given 101 yellows and 9 reds after 29 matches. Remarkable is the low average of yellow cards (3.5 per match), especcially when you compare it with the average of 4.8 cards per match at the World Cup in Germany in 2006.

I’ve tried to find some interesting referee facts (with the help of Fifa statistics). First the World Cup 2010 referee facts:

Tallest referee
Wolfgang Stark (Germany) with 191 cm

Shortest referee
Joel Aguilar (El Salvador) and Benito Archundia (Mexico), both 170 cm

Average height
181,3 cm

Longest international career
Benito Archundia since 1993

Shortest international career
Michael Hester since 2007

International since (youngest)
Five referees started refereeing international matches when they were 26 years old: Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan), Joel Aguilar (El Salvador), Marco Rodriguez (Mexico), Pablo Pozo (Chile) and Oscar Ruiz (Colombia).

International since (oldest)
Stephane Lannoy at the age of 37

Birthdays during World Cup 2010
Frank de Bleeckere will become 44 on the 1st of July.
Joel Aguilar will become 35 on the 2nd of July.
Koman Coulibaly will become 40 on the 4th of July.

Countries who make theire refereeing debut
El Salvador: Joel Aguilar
Malaysia: Subkhiddin Mohd Salleh
New Zealand: Michael Hester and Peter O’Leary
Seychelles: Eddy Maillet
Uzbekistan: Ravshan Irmatov

World Cup 2010 match with the most cards (including 20th June)
Germany – Serbia with referee Albert Undiano (Spain): 5 yellow cards for Germany (including two yellows for Miroslav Klose) and 4 yellow cards for Serbia.

Facts about the World Cup referees in general.

Most World Cup matches
Joel Quiniou from France officiated eight matches at three different World Cups: 1 match in 1986 (Mexico), 3 matches in 1990 (Italy) and 4 matches in 1994 (USA).

Archundia in action in Leipzig at the 2006 World Cup. Photo Matthias Book Creative Commons

Most matches at one World Cup
Benito Archundia (Mexico) and Horacio Elizondo (Argentina) refereed five matches in only one tournament, both at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Archundia was the first with five matches in one tournament; Elizondo officiated in the final.

Most red cards by one referee at World Cup tournaments
Mexican referee, Arturo Brizio Carter, holds the record for sending off seven players in the six matches that he officiated in 1994 and 1998.

First referee who officiated the opening match as well as the final of the same World Cup
Horacio Elizondo was appointed for the opening match and the final at the World Cup 2006 in Germany. In the final he send off Zinedine Zidane after headbutting Marco Materazzi.

Fifa adds a note to the last fact: “In 1950 the Englishman George Reader directed the inaugural match Brazil-Mexico and also the last match of the final group Uruguay-Brazil but this one not technically considered as a final.”