Japanese referee a candidate for World Cup final

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - The Japanese referee who gave Brazil a controversial opening-day penalty is a candidate to handle the World Cup final.

FIFA says Yuichi Nishimura is among 15 referees retained on World Cup duty in Brazil, with 10 sent home.

Nishimura has not had another match since Brazil beat Croatia 3-1, helped by a penalty awarded when forward Fred fell after slight contact on his upper left arm.

Referees staying for the rest of the tournament include Howard Webb, the 2010 final referee from England; Ravshan Irmatov of Uzbekistan, whose nine career World Cup matches is a record; and American Mark Geiger.

Six European referees remain, including Cuneyt Cakir of Turkey.

FIFA says referees from semifinalist nations Germany, Argentina and the Netherlands will now leave. However, Sandro Ricci of Brazil is available for selection.

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