THE Italian official accused last week of favouring Argentina and Lionel Messi has been chosen to referee their World Cup final against Germany.
Nicola Rizzoli, a 42-year-old who refereed the 2013 Champions League final at Wembley, will take charge of the match in the Maracana on Sunday but his appointment may be controversial.
Rizzoli was the target of criticism from Belgium's Marc Wilmots after the 1-0 quarter-final defeat by Argentina last Saturday.
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Wilmots claimed: "I don't want to be a cry baby, but I noticed the referee never gives fouls against Argentina.
"Every time something happens with Messi the referee gives him a free-kick.
"I notice he [Messi] made three fouls and no yellow card, we made one foul and one yellow card."
It will be the third time this World Cup that Rizzoli has refereed a match involving Argentina - he was also in charge of the South Americans' 3-2 win over Nigeria in Group F.
His first match of the tournament was Holland's 5-1 triumph over Spain in the group stage.
Ravshan Irmatov, from Uzbekistan, had been viewed as one of the favourites for the final as he is from neither Europe nor South America, but he does not have a team of assistants who work all the time with him.
England's Howard Webb was never in contention to referee the final - he was in charge of the 2010 showpiece and FIFA has never before appointed an official to referee two World Cup finals.
It was also felt that it would be too sensitive to have Webb referee a match in which Argentina are involved - the team are still going through a FIFA disciplinary process for displaying a banner claiming the Falkland Islands should belong to their country.
Furthermore, Argentina's FIFA senior vice-president Julio Grondona has never hidden his disdain for England. In 2011 he called the English "liars" at the FIFA Congress and in an interview with the German press agency DPA referred to the English as "pirates".
ends Page 2: 19:53 FIFA's referees' chief Massimo Busacca said he had paid no attention to Wilmots' claims and that "quality" was the reason for choosing Rizzoli.
Busacca told a news conference in Rio de Janeiro: "I think the neutrality of the referees has been there in every game.
"If you ask me whether we paid attention on that I say no. If we pay attention on every single complaint the coaches make we will not select any more referees.
"If you have the best quality then you should be given the best matches."