"From zero to hero" - that was a phrase issued by one member of this blog's community that perfectly circumscribes the past year 2013 for Dutch referee Björn Kuipers. He is today honoured by The Third Team and its community as the world's best Referee of the Year 2013.
|Our No.1 in 2013: Björn Kuipers (NED)|
Many people expected that EURO 2012 might have been a caesure for Kuipers' referee career. Having been sent home after the group stage as one of four referees, he was somehow punished for his rather weak performances in Ireland - Croatia and Ukraine - France. It was indeed a caesura - but a positive one. In 2012/13, Kuipers outperformed all expectations and rapidly improved his skills on the pitch. Or, to formulate it differently, he finally managed to put his skills onto the pitch visible for everyone.
This culminated in a well-deserved semifinal in UEFA Champions League between Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid which he handled almost faultlessly. He was then selected to take charge of UEFA Europa League Final 2013 in his home country - in Amsterdam Arena - between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC. The performance of his whole team including assistant referees Van Roekel and Zeinstra as well as the additional assistant referees Van Boekel and Liesveld has been impressive. As a logical consequence, Kuipers furthermore took control over the heated and combatted final at FIFA Confederations Cup between hosts Brazil and World Champions Spain. There is no need to say that this performance was very good as well. In the end, Kuipers has established at the peak of European refereeing which has led us to this award. Congratulations. He is following in the footsteps of Ravshan Irmatov and Cüneyt Çakır, who have been awarded this small prize in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
English Howard Webb has landed on the second place. Certainly, 2013 has been one of the best years of his career and probably the best year after 2010.
Brazilian Sandro Ricci has shown great progress over the last couple of months being somehow pushed into the role to represent the hosting nation Brazil at the next World Cup in 2014. He has coped well with these expectations and this pressure and has proven to be a very good referee at FIFA U-20 World Cup, where he handled four matches, and FIFA Club World Cup, where he took charge of the final between Bayern München and Raja Casablanca (last week).
|2nd and 3rd placed: Howard Webb (ENG) and Sandro Ricci (BRA)|
Djamel Haimoudi of Algeria has been elected as the best African referee of the year, while Nawaf Shukrallah of Bahrain managed to do so as the best Asian official. While Haimoudi handled important matches within his confederation (CAF), such as the AFCON 2013 final in South Africa, and the third place match at Confederations Cup 2013 between Italy and Uruguay, Shukrallah very likely has qualified for next year's World Cup by multiple achievements: he refereed the World Cup qualifier between Japan and Australia in a very good manner and was able to confirm this positive impression at FIFA U-20 World Cup where he, among others, took charge of a semifinal. In addition, he very well controlled the AFC Champions League Final between Guangzhou Evergrande and FC Seoul.
Mexico's Roberto García has been elected as the best CONCACAF referee of the year. Certainly, his final appointment and performance at U-20 World Cup (Uruguay - France) were one vital reason for this vote.
This is the complete list. Every voter had sent a top 15. Every place (1 to 15) was linked to a certain amount of points that have been added so that a final list came into existence:
1. Björn Kuipers - Netherlands - 1973 - 370 points
2. Howard Webb - England - 1971 - 273 points
3. Sandro Ricci - Brazil - 1974 - 258 points
4. Jonas Eriksson - Sweden - 1974 - 218 points
5. Nawaf Shukralla - Bahrain - 1976 - 172 points
6. Djamel Haimoudi - Algeria - 1970 - 170 points
7. Roberto García - Mexico - 1974 - 162 points
8. Joel Aguilar - El Salvador - 1975 - 160 points
9. Wilmar Roldán - Colombia - 1980 - 158 points
10. Enrique Osses - Chile - 1974 - 138 points
11. Felix Brych - Germany - 1975 - 122 points
12. Milorad Mažić - Serbia - 1973 - 108 points
13. Svein Oddvar Moen - Norway - 1979 - 84 points
14. Bakary Gassama - Gambia - 1979 - 64 points
15. Benjamin Williams - Australia - 1977 - 57 points
16. Damir Skomina - Slovenia - 1976 - 54 points
17. Pedro Proença - Portugal - 1970 - 43 points
18. Cüneyt Çakır - Turkey - 1976 - 42 points
19. Yuichi Nishimura - Japan - 1972 - 37 points
20. Néstor Pitana - Argentina - 1975 - 31 points
21. Roberto Moreno - Panama - 1969 - 30 points
22. Ravshan Irmatov - Uzbekistan - 1977 - 29 points
23. Nicola Rizzoli - Italy - 1971 - 28 points
24. Abdul Bashir - Singapore - 1968 - 27 points
..... Alireza Faghani - Iran - 1978 - 27 points
26. Néant Alioum - Cameroon - 1982 - 18 points
27. Mark Geiger - USA - 1974 - 14 points
..... Antonio Arias - Paraguay - 1972 - 14 points
29. Craig Thomson - Scotland - 1972 - 13 points
30. Víctor Carrillo - Peru - 1975 - 12 points
.... Marco Rodríguez - Mexico - 1973 - 12 points
32. Courtney Campbell - Jamaica - 1968 - 11 points
33. Viktor Kassai - Hungary - 1975 - 10 points
34. Bouchaib El Ahrach - Morocco - 1972 - 9 points
33. Carlos Vera - Ecuador - 1976 - 8 points
..... Badara Diatta - Senegal - 1969 - 8 points
35. Roberto Silvera - Uruguay - 6 points
36. Daniel Bennett - South Africa - 1976 - 4 points
37. Stéphane Lannoy - France - 1969 - 3 points
..... Peter O'Leary - New Zealand - 1972 - 3 points