Even though Japan won’t be playing their first game in this year’s World Cup until Saturday against Ivory Coast, they will be well represented on today’s pitch in San Paolo, Brazil.
Japanese referee, Yuichi Nishimura, and his assistants and Toru Sagara and Toshiyuki Nagiwill, have the honour of refereeing the inaugural match of the 2014 World Cup, featuring Brazil and Croatia.
Iranian Alireza Faghani will be rounding out the officiating team.
Nishimura, 42, is a Tokyo native who has been refereeing international games with FIFA since 2004. His first refereed international game was a match featuring Thailand versus United Emirates ten years ago. Coincidentally, his most recent World Cup officiating experience was when Brazil lost in the round of 16 against Netherlands in South Africa.
Others may remember him as the referee who accidentally pulled out his red cardon André Ooijer for kicking the ball away from Brazilian forward Kaká, before laughing it off and showing Ooijer a yellow card.
On top of the honor that refereeing the World Cup entails, of the 25 who officiated in South Africa in 2010, Nishimura will be one of only five returnees.