Bolivian FA President Lopez blasts PRO ref Jair Marrufo

MARRUFO MLS REF

by DAVE MARTINEZ

Foxborough, MA. — It seems like the Professional Referee Organization can’t avoid controversy — in club or international matches.

This time, it was a peeved Bolivian FA President Rolando Lopez taking aim at PRO ref Jair Marrufo for a game-changing penalty shout that cost Bolivia their place in the Copa America.

“From what you all know, there are bad referees in Bolivia,” Lopez said. “This referee, Marrufo, has already had many bad matches. He was supposed to be a referee in South Africa in 2010, but why was he used [here]? It’s only because he was picked at random by lottery and that’s the only reason he was nominated as a referee for this match.”

For those that don’t understand the reference, Marrufo was supposed to be a referee at the 2010 World Cup. However, he was removed from contention after a series of poorly officiated matches in MLS competitions throughout 2009.

On Friday night, Marrufo was once again in the eye of the storm, this time for an extra-time penalty shout against Bolivia. Marrufo called a penalty on Luis Gutierrez for a hand ball on an Alexis Sanchez cross inside the area.

Replays show the ball hit the top of Gutierrez’s arm, which was pulled behind his back — with the express purpose of avoiding such a call.

The penalty shout in extra time sealed Bolivia’s fate. Arturo Vidal sunk his opportunity — and eliminated Bolivia from the Copa knockout rounds.

“I am left only to speak about the play of this team,” Lopez said. “Really, the country should see that the team played well, they stood up. There is nothing to confront them about. On the contrary. We congratulate them and wish them the best of luck.”