Klinsmann concerned over Algerian ref
SALVADOR, Brazil -- U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann isn't thrilled with FIFA's decision to appoint Algerian referee Djamel Haimoudi for Tuesday's Round of 16 match against Belgium (4 p.m. ET, ESPN/WatchESPN).
While Klinsmann praised the job Haimoudi did in the two games he worked in the first round -- the Netherlands' 3-2 win over Australia and Costa Rica's 0-0 draw with England -- the former Germany coach is concerned that while all FIFA referees must be able to speak English, the Belgian players will be able to communicate with Haimoudi in his native tongue.
"Is it a good feeling? No," Klinsmann told reporters here Monday at his pre-match press conference. "He's able to speak French with their players on the field, not with us. We hope it's not a concern."
Klinsmann also noted that Algeria and Belgium both occupied Group H in Brazil, and that the United States defeated the Desert Foxes in dramatic fashion in South Africa four years ago.
"It's the country that we beat in the last second in the last World Cup," Klinsmann said.
Meantime, Belgium coach Marc Wilmots would not be drawn into the debate.
"I never talk to the referees," Wilmots said. "I don't think the referee is there to talk, he's there to referee. If you start talking about I could complain about having an Algerian ref against Algeria. Once you start talking about that, you're just making excuses before the game."
Refereeing has been a hot topic at the tournament so far. Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal blasted the officiating following the first round, and after the Dutch beat Mexico Sunday in a game decided by a controversial late penalty, Mexican boss Miguel Herrera complained than a European ref, Portugal's Pedro Proenca, had been selected for that Round of 16 match.
"It's hard, because there are more European referees here than from any other [confederation]," U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati, who also serves on FIFA's executive committee, said shortly after Klinsmann's comments.
"FIFA abandoned the rule about having only people from different confederations because so many of the top referees come from the top leagues, many of which are in Europe," Gulati added.
Earlier, Klinsmann had conceded as much.
"I understand that sometimes it's difficult for FIFA to always choose the right referees for the right games," Klinsmann said. "It is what it is. We respect the decision and we give him absolutely the benefit of the doubt."