Nicolas Otamendi’s elbow on Raphinha forced CONMEBOL to suspend two referees

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On Wednesday, November 17, 2021, Brazil played Argentina in a World Cup qualification match which did not end so well for Brazil’s Raphinha.

During the World Cup qualification match, Argentina’s Nicolas Otamendi landed his elbow on the mouth of Raphinha. The Leeds United winger landed on the pitch with a bleeding mouth.

Nicolas Otamendi lands his elbow on Raphinha during the World Cup qualification match between Argentina and Brazil.

Otamendi helped Raphinha up who had to receive 5 stitches to stop bleeding. The 24-year-old Brazilian winger was substituted in the 69th minute.

Otamendi tries to help Raphinha up after landing an elbow on his mouth.
Otamendi tries to help Raphinha up after landing an elbow on his mouth.

Despite how severe the elbow was and Raphinha’s bleeding mouth, the center referee, Andres Cunha did not deem the incident fit for a red card.

To make matters worst, Video Assistant Referee Esteban Ostojich did not deem the incident fit to be rechecked. Hence, Otamendi went unpunished.

After the game which ended 0-0 and gave Argentina a ticket to Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup, the coach of Brazil national team, Tite questioned why the VAR didn’t do anything concerning Otamendi’s elbow on Raphinha.

The coach said: “Who is in the VAR? It’s simply impossible, I’ll repeat, it’s simply impossible not to see Otamendi’s elbow on Raphinha.

“Would that determine the result? I do not know. High-level VAR referees cannot work in this way, it is inconceivable. It’s not the term I wanted to say, I’m saying this because I’m polite.”

Hours after the incident, the South American football organizers CONMEBOL decided to take a second look at the incident and confirmed that both the center referee and the VAR did not make the right decision.

Hence, CONMEBOL announced that both the center referee and VAR Esteban Ostojich have been suspended due to their failure to make the right decision during the game.

In a statement CONMEBOL issued to announce the suspension of the two referees, the football association described the failure of the two referees as “serious errors in the exercise of their function”.

“As a result, the CONMEBOL Referee Committee resolve to suspend the referees Andres Ismael Cunha Soca and Esteban Daniel Ostojich Vega for an indefinite period in the exercise of their functions in competitions organized by CONMEBOL”, the statement added.

So far in the South America World Cup qualification series, Brazil and Argentina are the only two countries that have qualified. Brazil are topping the ten-country qualification table with 35 points in 13 games.

On the other hand, Argentina made it to Qatar 2022 World Cup with 29 points in 13 games. They are occupying the second spot on the qualification table after recording 8 wins and 5 draws.