June 10, 2014 / 6:26 PM / 3 years ago

Japan's Nishimura to referee World Cup opener

Referee Yuichi Nishimura of Japan runs during the last referee training camp before the 2014 World Cup at the Zico Football Centre in Rio de Janeiro June 6, 2014. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

NATAL Brazil (Reuters) - Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura, who showed Felipe Melo a red card as Brazil crashed out of the World Cup quarter-finals four years ago, will officiate Thursday’s opening match of the 2014 tournament between the hosts and Croatia.

FIFA announced the match officials for the first four matches on Tuesday, handing the honor of blowing the opening whistle in Sao Paolo to Nishimura, who will be assisted by compatriots Toru Sagara and Toshiyuki Nagi.

The 42-year-old dismissed Melo for stamping on Dutch winger Arjen Robben in the 73rd minute of the last eight contest in Port Elizabeth four years ago, effectively ending Brazil’s hopes of coming back from 2-1 down and their dreams of a sixth world title.

Nishimura, 2012 Asian referee of the year, had also doled out the first red card of the 2010 finals when he showed Uruguay’s Nicolas Lodeiro a second yellow in the match against France on opening day of the tournament.

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Nigel Hunt

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