Brazil lashed out at Chile on Friday for questioning the integrity of English referee Howard Webb, branding doubts aired by their last-16 opponents as “primitive and immature.”
Webb, who took charge of the 2010 World Cup final, will be the man in the middle in Belo Horizonte on Saturday when Brazil face Chile in the second round.
But Webb’s appointment has been questioned by Chile star Alexis Sanchez and the head of the Chilean Football Association, who fear Webb may be influenced by the huge home support.
“The only thing I fear is the refereeing,” said Sanchez on Thursday when asked about the prospect of facing the tournament hosts.
However, when Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was asked to offer his thoughts during Friday’s eve-of-game press conference, Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) press officer Rodrigo Paiva intervened.
“To talk about this subject is primitive and immature. Applying this kind of pressure is ridiculous,” he said.
“Not only is it disrespectful towards Fifa, the referee and the Brazil team with their 100-year history of winning, but it is also disrespectful towards the people of Brazil.
“Brazil do not need the referee in order to win titles. The Brazilian team and people deserve more respect.”
Concerns that World Cup referees might favour the host country were first raised when Japanese official Yuichi Nishimura awarded Brazil a dubious penalty that helped them to a 3-1 win against Croatia in the competition’s opening game.
Chile FA chief Sergio Jadue called for a “top-level referee” to take charge of Saturday’s game.
Webb was also in charge when Brazil beat Chile 3-0 at the same stage of the tournament in 2010.
However, Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli refused to be drawn into a war of words, saying: “I am not worried about the referee. I am much more worried about Brazil, their players and their coach.”