Yuichi Nishimura can bring Asian refereeing to new heights

Yuichi Nishimura is a big contestant of becoming the first Asian World Cup final referee. The 42-year-old referee from Japan has already shown his skills during the 2010 World Cup with a quarter final and the appointment as 4th official in the final officiated by Howard Webb. A report of newspaper UzDaily wrote shortly after the tournament: “I cannot predict the future but I won’t be surprised if there was an Asian, whether from Japan, Malaysia or even Bhutan, who would one day become THE referee for the World Cup final. The sky is the limit for Asian judges on field. And the dedication is there for them to reach the pinnacle.”

Update: Fifa announced on 10th of June that Nishimura will be the referee who will referee the opening match between Brazil and Croatia.

Start of Nishimura’s career

Nishimura is one of the Asian World Cup referees. But how did it all begin for him? Nishimura was the coach of a youth team and in his opinion the referee ruined the dreams of his pupils by bad judgments. This inspired him to become a referee himself with the motto of thinking of the players first. He told Fifa once that “his biggest challenge on the pitch is to maintain positive motivation amongst the players”.

Nishimura became a Fifa referee in 2004 and only two years later he already refereed an Asian Champions League final between Al Qadisiya from Kuwait and Al Karama from Syria. One year later he officiated the Fifa u17 World Cup final in Korea.


But that’s not the only foreign experience Nishimura gained. The Japanese match official was also invited to the 2008 Africa Cup in Ghana as only non-African, where he got three matches. And his most remarkable refereeing adventure maybe was in Poland. He officiated three matches in the Polish Ekstraklasa in 2008 as part of a referee exchange. After he landed they told him about match-fixing problems in the country. “But we were not there because of that affair”, Nishimura told Gazeta Wyborcza. “We are international referees, but we’ll never officiate competition matches in Europe and all experience will be usefull.” Nishimura continues the interview and tells why nobody will ever to buy him to manipulate a match. “In Japan, there is no corruption in the sport. I think it has to do with our culture and tradition. Such behavior will never be tolerated.”

Japanese courage

Integrity in sports is very important for the Japanese. Before moving to Poland he had heard about Tomasz Hajto, a player with foreign experience. “Yes, I also knew about the yellow cards he has collected”, Nishimura told. “And I also booked him today, but there was no alternative after such behavior. I had no other choice. I’m not prejudiced before the game to anyone.”

Nishimura was named best Asian referee in 2012 and as worked hard to be top fit at the 2014 World Cup. “It is an honor to be appointed for the World Cup, but it is hard to finish any World Cup match without any problems”, he keeps reservedly. “But I want to meet that challenge with courage and hope my decisions will be accepted by the teams involved in the games where I take charge.” That Japanese courage could bring Asian refereeing to new heights during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Read the interview with 2010’s Asian semi-final referee Ravshan Irmatov.


Photo series: World Cup preparation for referees

Photo series: World Cup preparation for referees. The photo’s are made Lorenzo Fontani, a Sky Sport journalist. He published them on Twitter and I embedded them in the blog post below.

All referees doing their excercises.

Photo of Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura.

Nicola Rizzoli check the video screen during the world cup preparation for referees.

Björn Kuipers looks very happy during the Fifa training for referees.

Felix Brych on the sidelines.

The photo’s in this photo series “World Cup preparation for referees” were embedded from Twitter and made by Lorenzo Fontani.

Asian referees of 2012: Nishimura and Yamagishi

Japanese referees Yuichi Nishimura (men) and Sachiko Yamagishi (women) received the 2012 AFC Referee of the Year Award during the 2012 AFC Annual Awards.

A happy Nishimura: “I think on the refereeing side there are no big differences between Europe and Asia. That’s because Asian referees have high standards. I think it’s only different on the football side.”

Nishimura als praises his colleague Ravshan Irmatov from Uzbekistan. “Mr. Ravshan is a fantastic referee.” Have a look at the interview on the AFC YouTube Channel.

If you understand Japanese, you might be interested in the interview with the female winner Sachiko Yamagishi.