Top 10 Greatest Referees In Fifa World Cup History

Over the years, the game of football has witnessed some of the best referees in the World cup. Either their decision-making ability or calling a player out in high profile games, they never bow down to their standard. As the 22nd edition of the FIFA world cup is going to take place this year, let’s take a look at some of the best referees in the FIFA World Cup.

Key takeaways:

  • Football referees are trained in national camps affiliated with FIFA
  • The national organization recommends its top officials to FIFA for their final FIFA International Referees List.
  • FIFA allows referees to wear jerseys among the five colors which are black, red, yellow, green, and blue.

Best Referees In Fifa World Cup

Imagine a game without the involvement of a referee? it will be total chaos. Now imagine a game with a ref who can’t handle the pressure situation, the result will be more chaos. Hence a great referee is indeed a plus point in the game. What else is the point if the grandest stage of all, the World Cup, doesn’t feature some of the best referees in the FIFA world cup?

Without the involvement of Referees, the game would mean less. In Football, every challenge turns into a war between two sides if there’s no one to tell who fouls who?. So without referees, Football can’t be enjoyed. The final decision authority gives them the superior status above all.

10). Sandor Puhl

Sanor Puhl is a Hungarian Referee who won the FIFA referee of the year award on numerous occasions. Sandor Phul won the IFFHS world best referees award four times from the year 1994 to 1997. After winning the award consecutively 4-times, he became one of the best referees in the world. After his retirement in 2000, he worked as the Deputy Chairman of the Hungarian Football Association for six years. 

Although with such a legendary career, he faces controversy over his actions in the 1994 WorldCup match. His negligence in the 1994 quarterfinal match, where Italy didn’t fair play against Spain, led to the result that he was suspended for 8 international matches by FIFA. 

9). Oscar Ruiz

He is known as the best Colombian referee in the country’s history. Oscar Ruiz made his name as the best Colombian referee of all time. He worked as a FIFA-affiliated referee from 1995 to 2011. Over the course of 16 years, He officiated games at 3 different world cups, 2002, 2006, and 2010.

However, if the career is this big, somehow you find yourself in some controversy. Career over 16 years, he was part of one controversy at the time of his retirement. Ruiz received severe criticism after he sent off Yoann Gourcuff in the final group stage match between France and South Africa.

8). Howard Webb

Howard Webb’s father was a referee for 35 years. His grooming was started under his dad’s supervision. He started his journey early and then rested. However, the affiliated with the FIFA referee community in 2005. Howard Webb remains a FIFA referee until 2014. He has a unique feat to his name. Howard Webb made a record of being a referee for two high-profile final matches, in the same calendar year.

  • the UEFA Champions League final,
  • the FIFA World Cup Final in 2010

In 2014, he decided to retire and is the Manager of Video Assistant Referee Operations for Major League Soccer’s professional Referee Organization. Many view him as the best referee to have come out of England.

7). Michel Vautrot

Michel was one of the best French referees. In internationals, he officiated high-profile matches including two matches in the 1982 FIFA World Cup and three matches in 1986. In 1986, he also officiated the EURO cup final between FC Steaua Bucharest and FC Barcelona. 

Michel Vautrot has won the IFFHS best referee award twice in his career. Despite all the success,  He was once criticized for a match-fixing scandal in which FIFA banned FC Roma for bribing him with 50,000 Euros in the 1986 European Cup semi-final between Roma and Dundee United. 

6). Peter Mikkelsen

Pioneer of the greatest Danish refereeing, Peter Mikkelsen serve as an A-listed referee from 1985 to 1996. He was awarded the World’s Best Referee in 1991 and 1993 by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics.

Mikkelsen officiated two matches at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. At that time he was 30 years old, which brought him nationwide recognition. In the 1994 Word Cup, He refereed three matches.

His working experience also includes years of refereeing at UEFA European Football Championship tournaments in 1992 and 1996. 

5). Kim Milton Nielsen

Gone by the name of Long-neck Milton, he was not afraid of giving rash decisions against players. His decision against David Bechkam in the quarterfinal against Argentina made him a villain for the entire England Nation. Denmark-born Kim Milton has a tremendous eye for looking at a foul. He has refereed a lot of matches including 154 international and 53 UEFA Champions League matches.

Kim Milton started his career when he was 15 and first became the FIFA-affiliated referee in 1988 at the very young age of 28. Later He continued his duty and retired on 16th May 2006 when he reached the UEFA regulated age limit of 45. 

4). Pedro Proenca

Pedro Proenca was a Portuguese referee who was affiliated with FIFA. Proenca became the FIFA-affiliated referee in 2003 and appeared in the UEFA’s Elite category in 2009. He was awarded the Best Referee of the Year in 2007 and 2011 by the Portuguese Football Federation and the IFFHS World’s Best Referee in 2007, 2011, and 2012. 

Pedro Proença has the rare feat of officiating both the finals of the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA European Championship in the same year. Also, he refereed both the Portuguese Super Cup and Cup of Portugal finals as well.

3). Frank de Bleeckere

Frank de Bleeckere was a Belgium-born referee. He won the record seven times Belgian Professional Referee of the Year. Frank de Bleeckere pave his path to success through his tremendous eye for a foul. He made his debut in 1984 and worked as a FIFA-affiliated referee from 1998 to 2012.

His first international match was between Cyprus and Ireland at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Qualifier. Bleeckere then continued his international journey by refereeing many matches.

He made his name as the only referee from Belgium to officiate in 7 world cup matches. Bleeckere officiated matches in the 2006 FIFA World Cup and 2010 FIFA World Cup. He also served as one of the 16 “Refereeing Technical Advisors” of FIFA in 2012.

2). Markus Merk

Markus Merk is a German-born referee and widely considered the best football referee of his time. He received FIFA’s “Best Referee of the Year” award three times and DFB German Referee of the Year a record six times. Markus also holds the record for officiating the highest number of Bundesliga matches.

He debuted as the youngest Bundesliga referee in 1988 at the age of 25. Markus officiated football matches at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics as well. He served his terms as a FIFA-listed referee starting from the 1993 World Cup qualifier until his retirement in 2008.

2). Cuneyt Cakır

Cuneyt Cakır is a FIFA international referee, and he is one of the best referees in the world. The 44-year-old Turkish referee has officiated close to 200 matches in the Turkish Super Lig. He was the referee that sent John Terry to the 2012 Champions League semifinal between FC Barcelona and Chelsea at Camp Nou. Cakır is the first referee to officiate two different semi-
final matches in Champions League history, he did that in the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League. He is set to officiate matches in this year’s world cup as well,

1). Pierluigi Collina

Collina throughout in though was the most beloved and famous referee in football. Pierluigi Collina leads the list of Best Referees In Fifa World Cup History. The former Italian football referee served his tenure as a FIFA Listed referee from 1995 to 2005. In 10 years, he stands in numerous matches including high profiles matches during the world cup of 1998 and 2002. Due to his energy on the field, and the decisions, he makes on the field, he is widely regarded as the greatest football referee.

He is famous by the nickname “Kojak” for his distinctive bald look because of alopecia. His best matches as an official were the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final between Brazil and Germany and the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final between Bayern Munich and Manchester United.

In his 10-year time period, He was named FIFA’s ”Best Referee of the year” a record 6 consecutive times. Now, Collina is a current member of the UEFA Referees Committee and has also served his duty as a Chief of the Football Federation of Ukraine since July 5, 2010. 

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