Argentina's Elizondo to referee World Cup final

Argentina's Horacio Elizondo was selected to referee Sunday's World Cup final between three-time champion Italy and 1998 winner France.

Elizondo, a 42-year-old physical education teacher, officiated Portugal's quarterfinal victory over England, when he sent off England striker Wayne Rooney for stepping on Portugal defender Ricardo Carvalho.

The Argentine official also was the referee at the opening match on June 9, when host Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2 in Munich.

Dario Garcia and Rodolfo Otero, also of Argentina, will work the sidelines for the match at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, FIFA general secretary Urs Linsi said Thursday.

"We've had lots of American, South American and Latin American referees and we've been treated well," said Giancarlo Abete, the chief of Italy's World Cup delegation. "We've shown a lot of respect for the referee's decisions and those of the disciplinary committee," reports AP.

According to Sky Sports, Elizondo came in for some criticism for his performance in the England game for failing to stamp down on Portugal's play-acting.

Elizondo has refereed four matches at the finals already including the opening game of the tournament between Germany and Costa Rica and he will now take care of the last game.

FIFA vice president Lennart Johansson said Elizondo was a good choice, and he backed the official's decision to send Rooney off against Portugal.

Johansson said he was not convinced when he saw the incident live, but after watching TV replays, thought Elizondo made the correct decision.

"I saw his first match and it was good -- the less I notice referees, the better a job they're doing," he said.

Johansson said the referees' committee had long considered Elizondo a prospect for the final.

"I have full respect for the referees' committee -- if they give a referee the opening match and then pick him again for the final, then he and they are doing a good job," informs CNN.