The referees on their way to Poland and Ukraine
As we begin our coverage of Euro 2012, the men we’ll be focusing on are the dozen individuals with the privilege – or burden – of having to oversee the 31 matches as Europe’s finest players come together to compete.
They’ll be joined by 24 linesmen, four fourth officials and 40 other officials. Some of these will comprise the new “assistant referee” roles and will stand behind goals to give an extra eye when it comes to penalty incidents and goal-line queries.
The twelve men in the middle are:
Cüneyt Çakır (TUR)
Day job: Insurance salesman
Fun fact: Had his shirt ripped by a goalie in the Turkish league in 2007. Reffed some game between Chelsea and Barcelona earlier this year.
Jonas Eriksson (SWE)
Day job: Multimillionaire
Fun fact: Jonas made his fortune selling a sports television company.
Viktor Kassai (HUN)
Day job: Sales manager
Fun fact: Our early tip to referee to the final. Took charge of last year’s Champions league showdown between Manchester Utd and Barca
Bjorn Kuipers (NED)
Day job: Manages three supermarkets and a hair salon
Fun fact: Haircut is not so impressive
Stéphane Lannoy (FRA)
Day job: Video games distributor. Skills at FIFA unknown
Fun fact: One of the few professional referees to have played the game. Quit aged 20 to don the black.
Pedro Proença (POR)
Day job: Finance manager
Fun fact: Once yellow-carded a player for putting on a yarmulke (skull-cap). Was head-butted by an unknown man last year whilst jogging, losing two teeth.
Nicola Rizzoli (ITA)
Day job: Architect
Fun fact: Spoke to Iker Cassilas and Sergio Ramos following their former teammate Antonio Cassano’s heart surgery to reassure them
Damir Skomina (SVN)
Day job: Tour guide operator
Fun fact: Accidentally posted his home address on an Albanian website when trying to locate a FIFA tracksuit he’d lost
Wolfgang Stark (GER)
Day job: Banker
Fun fact: Was attacked by Schalke players who broke into his dressing room after their playoff defeat earlier this year
Craig Thomson (SCO)
Day job: Solicitor
Fun fact: Has made serious suggestions to raise the height of goals to make football more exciting.
Carlos Velasco Carballo (ESP)
Day job: Referee
Fun fact: Carlos quit his job as an engineer to follow his passion. He described being given the role as ref in the Europa League final last year as “one of the happiest days of my life.”
These men – and their assistants – will fly out on June 4th and we’ll follow every card, whistle-blow and unclear hand gesture along the way.
We’ll be building up to Euro 2012 with the latest on the goal-line assistants experiment, a look back at controversial incidents of previous tournaments and all the latest news about the men in black. We look forward to enjoying it with you
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