Who is Wilmar Roldan, the referee in charge of the Tunisia vs England game?

England got their World Cup campaign to a promising start with a 2-1 win over Tunisia, but could have won with a more comfortable lead and potentially two penalties had they been awarded by controversial referee Wilmar Roldan.

The Colombian referee had an infamous reputation heading into the Russia finals following his track record officiating past matches, and a spate of curious decisions drew derision from England fans.

Roldan failed to award England penalties after they felt that they should have been given at least two, having sanctioned Kyle Walker for a shove in the first half that led to Tunisia’s equaliser from the spot.

So who is Roldan, and why has he been surrounded by controversy? Goal take a look.

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What happened in the England vs Tunisia World Cup game?


Harry Kane England Tunisia World Cup 2018

In England’s opening World Cup fixture against Tunisia, Kyle Walker seemingly brought down Fakhreddine Ben Youssef inside the box which led Roldan to give a penalty.

Roldan did not consult with the VAR at all before his decision to award the penalty to Tunisia – which they scored to even out the scoreline at 1-1 – and some would have argued that it was a soft one to give.

Ferjani Sassi scored to level for Tunisia, and moments later, Kane was brought down in the Tunisia box in similar fashion to the way that Ben Yousseff was – if not harsher – but Roldan did not award a penalty or even check with the VAR. 

Kane was brought down for a second time after the break but Roldan also did not give a penalty of even consult with the VAR. England fans on social media felt that he should have at least consulted with the VAR – first before giving the decision to award Tunisia the spot-kick – and then again to consult with over Kane being brought down inside the penalty area.

The main criticism that has been aimed with VAR is that though it does assist the referee in decision-making, there is still the problem of being consistent with the sort of punishment given after its consultation.


Who is the referee who was in charge of England vs Tunisia?


England Tunisia World Cup 2018

Roldan is a Colombian referee who garnered controversy after his officiating in the last few years, among which included blunders with the VAR.

His most high-profile match was in the Confederations Cup in Russia in June 2017 between Cameroon and Germany. He erroneously gave Cameroon player Sebastien Siani a red card for a high reckless challenge on Emre Can.

Roldan consulted with VAR after the incident, but instead of booking the correct player – which was Ernest Mabouka – he instead changed Siani’s yellow card to a red card, sending him off the pitch.

Cameroon fans protested, however, and then after he reviewed the incident with the VAR for a second time he showed the red card to Mabouka, who was the correct culprit.

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In the Brazil 2014 World Cup, Roldan failed to award Mexico two first-half goals against Cameroon. Roldan claimed that two goals were offside when they should have stood, and Mexico should have won the game 3-0 – but instead were fortunate to win 1-0.

Another notable incident that Roldan was in charge of was when he officiated Argentine sides River Plate and Lanus in October 2017. He was accused of assisting with River’s elimination in the semi-finals of the Copa Libertadores after missing a blatant handball in the area, also after giving Lanus a spot-kick as they completed an amazing comeback victory from 3-0 down on aggregate.

England will resume their World Cup campaign against Panama on June 24.

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