Reviled World Cup Ref to Sit Out Upcoming Matches

Newly assigned referee turns to "Gladiator" for inspiration ahead of crucial U.S. match

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    United States' Landon Donovan protests as Mali's referee Koman Coulibaly showed a yellow card to a Slovenian player during the World Cup group C soccer match between Slovenia and the United States at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday, June 18, 2010.

    Koman Coulibaly has been benched – for this week anyway – and the newly tapped referee to officiate Team USA’s do-or-die showdown against Algeria said he’s turning to Hollywood for inspiration.

    Veteran Belgian referee Frank De Bleeckere said he plans to "watch the previous games of USA and Algeria to help me understand their tactics and work on my positioning,”  Yahoo! Sports reported. “But I will watch ‘Gladiator’ first.”

    FIFA assigned one of its most experienced and respected referees to oversee the match following the outcry over first time World Cup referee Coulibaly’s apparent blown call on Friday.

    The 39-year-old referee from Mali found his name left off a list of those officiating matches on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to reports.

    The decision does not necessarily mean soccer’s ruling body has pulled a red card on Coulibaly, as FIFA routinely announces its pairing of officials with games as the tournament unfolds.

    Coulibaly served as fourth referee Sunday for Italy and New Zealand’s 1-1 match as previously assigned, keeping time and overseeing substitutions, Bloomberg News reported. (Incidentally, the lead referee of that match, Carlos Batres, has drawn fire for a controversial call of his own).

    FIFA would not comment on Coulibaly’s case, saying only that their referee committee “has not yet taken a definite decision” on whether officials not officiating games this week would be sent packing, according to Bloomberg.

    Coulibaly became a household name after nixing American Maurice Edu’s goal in the final minutes of Friday’s match-up -- transforming what would have been a dramatic second-half comeback win by the Yanks into a frustrating draw at two goals apiece.

    “It was a good goal,” U.S. coach Bob Bradley concluded a day after the match, but added that it's time to move on.

    Indeed, Wednesday’s match against Algeria has become a make-or-break effort for the Americans to advance to the round of 16.

    The U.S. can advance with a win against Algeria or go home with a loss.

    Should the match end in a draw, the Americans also stay alive if England loses against Slovenia or Solvenia and England tie and England finishes with fewer total goals than the U.S.