Brazil fans were ecstatic when their team was able to recover from an early own goal by defender Marcelo and beat Croatia 3-1 during Thursday afternoon's match against Croatia, the first of the 2014 World Cup.
But there was a sour taste left in many fans' mouths -- including those of many Brazilian supporters -- who were upset at what they saw as questionable officiating that gave Brazil a major edge in the contest.
Fans directed an outpouring of anger at head referee Yuichi Nishimura for a number of calls many deemed incorrect, including what appeared to be a blatant overreaction to Brazilian forward Fred going down after Croatian defender Dejan Lovren touched his shoulder.
Fred appeared to flop on the play, and for his performance, he was awarded a yellow flag by Nishimura, a move that allowed Neymar to score on the ensuing penalty kick, giving Brazil the momentum and a 2-1 lead. Immediately after the call, Croatian players voiced their displeasure, circling Nishimura and asking for him to reconsider it, but no such thing happened.
The question of officiating again came up later in the match, when a goal was negated by one of the referees -- a team of four who were led by Nishimura Thursday night in Sao Paulo -- nixed a goal after calling foul on Ivica Olic on Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar.
Criticism of Nishimura exploded as the game progressed and continued through Friday morning, as fans from Argentina to China got ready to watch the second day of matches of the World Cup, featuring showdowns between Mexico and Cameroon; Spain and the Netherlands; and Chile and Australia.
One unknown, enterprising person reportedly added a line to the Japanese judge's Wikipedia page shortly after the game that was gone by Friday morning, dubbing him a Brazilian referee and stating: "His very unorthodox upbringing gave him eyes with which he can't see if someone plays with their head hand or leg."
Even Croatia coach Niko Kovac got in on the Nishimura bashing after the match ended, saying, "'If that's a penalty, then we can just stop playing football right now ... Let's play basketball instead. It's shameful. We talk about respect, but there wasn't any respect for Croatia."
#RoboACroacia Croatia fans dont worry. The whole world has seen it & knows how unfair it was. You can be proud. THANK YOU GUYS
— antonela (@antonela_pezo) June 13, 2014
— Mario Peras (@PerasMar) June 13, 2014
— Stefano Maruzzi (@smaruzzi) June 13, 2014
— Ted Barrial (@mePuddin) June 13, 2014