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9 Best Football Referees Ever

  • 9 most respected referees ever are here
  • From Atkinson to Brych: who is the best?
best football referees ever

Being a referee is not as simple as it may seem. Being among the best football referees ever is even harder as any mistake can result in a failure that will be remembered for ages. Here are 9 most respected arbiters in football history who coped with their task in the best way possible.

Referees are often underestimated in football. It is players and managers who get the most attention during football matches, which is completely understandable. The first play, the others guide, and together they either lose or win. However, there are also referees who make a significant contribution to the game outcome.

Being a good referee requires a row of skills and personal traits, such as unbiasedness, decision-making, and problem-solving abilities as well as many others. Also, a human factor is not tolerated as it can ruin the whole game or even tournament if any player is judged unfairly. Together with Bet365 Sportsbook, we have ranked 9 fair-minded referees who did their job the best.

Martin Atkinson referees the EPL and FIFA matches

English referee Martin Atkinson is one of the best football referees ever. Unlike most names on this list, a 49-years-old arbiter still works and officiates mostly the English Premier League. He is also a frequent guest at FIFA tournaments and is its licensed referee.

best football referees ever
A good referee matters.

Football fans like Atkinson for his objective and smart decisions as well as a 25-year long career. Since his first appearance as an assistant referee in 1995, Martin Atkinson worked at the UEFA Europa League matches and various Football Association competitions.

Jonas Eriksson is among the best football referees ever

46-years old Jonas Eriksson is a former football referee, who became very successful during his career. The Swedish professional arbiter has taken part in matches as a referee since 1994 – one year prior to Atkinson. In general, Eriksson officiated more than 400 matches and did it too well to be on this list.

The most famous matches with Jonas Eriksson as the main arbiter were UEFA Super Cup and Champions League games in the 2010s. You can bet on both competitions at online sportsbooks in Spain. One of the last matches he refereed was the Liverpool-Sevilla one in the 2016 Europa League. Two years later, Eriksson decided to retire from football.

Viktor Kassaï retired from football in 2019

Viktor Kassaï from Hungary has one of the most impressive careers as an arbiter. The 44-years-old former referee started his career in 2003 when he got a license from FIFA. Since then, Kassaï has participated in many football competitions with the 2010 World Cup and the 2011 UCL as the biggest ones. He had one controversial issue though – at the UEFA Euro 2012, he didn’t allow a goal from Ukrainians during their match with England, who won that match. Later, FIFA president Blatter said that “a goal-line technology was a necessity”. Apart from one incident, Kassaï’s work was good, but he decided to quit in 2019.

Felix Brych – the highest-rated referee of his generation

German arbiter Felix Brych is one of the best football referees ever. The 44-years-old FIFA referee is also one of the highest-ranked professionals of his generation, according to many football editions.

Brych started his career in 1999 but joined FIFA only in 2007. Since then, he has officiated the Bundesliga matches, numerous Europa League, and World Cup games in Russia. Also, Brych was the main referee in the 2017 UCL Final. 

Frank de Bleeckere holds a personal record as a referee

Belgian former arbiter Frank de Bleeckere is on the top-9 of the best football referees ever. 54-years-old pro’s career was not too long (1994-2012), but very memorable. For 18 years of officiating football matches, he took part in World Cup finals and the 2008 European championship. The list of his international matches is long, but he is also one of the best in his home country. Frank de Bleeckere was named the best referee of the year 7 times in Belgium, which is an absolute record.

best football referees ever
They are the best.

All-time greatest referees: Howard Webb

A former English arbiter Howard Webb refereed the EPL from 2003 to 2014. He also has worked as FIFA international referee for 9 years till his retirement in 2015. He took part in numerous matches, from the UCL and League Cup to World Cup games in 2010. During this time, Howard was called one of the most respected arbiters both from footballers and managers. He also won some awards as the best referee in the early 2010s.

Markus Merk is a top-level German arbiter

German former arbiter Markus Merk is often referred to as one of the best referees in football. 58-years-old professional owns many awards with the Best Referee in Germany at the top (6 times). Also, IFFHS called Merk the best arbiter 3 times: in 2004, 2005, and 2008.

During his long career, Merk participated in FIFA and UEFA tournaments, including the European championship and World Cup. He also officiated the 1992 Olympic Games and refereed the most games in Bundesliga ever. Do you agree with Bet365 that he is among the greatest referees ever?

Best football referees ever: Pedro Proença

Pedro Proença is a Portuguese professional referee who has worked since 1998. During his arbiter career, Proença has reached heights as one of the greatest of all time. IFFSH named him the Best Referee of 2012. He got the same title in Portugal many times, where he refereed in a local league.

Proença took part in almost all big football competitions, including the UCL, UEFA Euro, and World Cup. He also became the first Portuguese to participate in the European championship final. He retired from football in 2015.

Is Pierluigi Collina the best arbitre?

Many fans and football editions call Pierluigi Collina the best referee ever and it is hard to disagree with them. A former Italian referee received a FIFA title as the Best Referee of the Year six times in a row. He participated in all big competitions, from World Cup matches to the UCL. Currently, Collina is a member of the Football Federation of Ukraine as well as UEFA and FIFA referee committees.

Read also about the biggest football rivalries of all time.

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