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Nishimura to ref World Cup opener

Natal, Brazil - Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura, who showed Felipe Melo a red card as Brazil crashed out of the World Cup quarter-finals four years ago, will officiate Thursday's opening match of the 2014 tournament between the hosts and Croatia.

FIFA announced the match officials for the first four matches on Tuesday, handing the honour of blowing the opening whistle in Sao Paolo to Nishimura, who will be assisted by compatriots Toru Sagara and Toshiyuki Nagi.

FILE - Japan's referee Yuichi Nishimura officiates a FIFA Club World Cup qualifying soccer match. FIFA has selected Nishimura to handle the opening game of the World Cup between Brazil and Croatia. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File). Credit: ap

The 42-year-old dismissed Melo for stamping on Dutch winger Arjen Robben in the 73rd minute of the last eight contest in Port Elizabeth four years ago, effectively ending Brazil's hopes of coming back from 2-1 down and their dreams of a sixth world title.

Nishimura, 2012 Asian referee of the year, had also doled out the first red card of the 2010 finals when he showed Uruguay's Nicolas Lodeiro a second yellow in the match against France on opening day of the tournament.

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