December 26, 2013

The 3rd Team Referee of the Year 2013: Björn Kuipers

"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


  1. Kuipers always well, except Brazil-Spain(Confederations).

  2. Expected. Kuipers, deservedly ranked top. Eriksson and Webb also have had a stellar year.

  3. The most astonishing thing is that Nikola Rizzoli (the CL final referee) is ranked only in 23rd place.....

    1. And deservedly so...
      After a great 2012, Rizzoli has disappointed immensely this year. His nomination for the CL final was made based on politics, NOT merit I'm afraid.

  4. This ranking is very mistaked.

    1. Why don't you give us your ranking?

  5. Hull-MU. Oliver bad with the cards. And why 40 seconds more at the end?

    1. I agree, not one of his best games...

  6. I fully agree with this ranking, but now I am also curious about a top ten of assistant referees. Do you think that the assistant referees of the named referees by ranking, complete the top 10.
    For example:
    1. Van Roekel (as assistant referee 1)
    2. Zeinstra
    3. Mullarkey
    4. Cann


  7. I would go for:

    1) van Roekel (NED)
    2) Mullarkey (ENG)
    3) Cann (ENG)
    4) Zeinstra (NED)
    5) Miranda (POR)
    6) Borsch (GER)
    7) Yuste Jiminez (ESP)
    8) Klasenius (SWE)
    9) Ring (HUN)
    10) Duran (TUR)

    1. Nur H,

      What was, in your opinion, your favorite call from the list of these assistant referees in the past year?

      I go for the outstanding no flag from Erwin Zeinstra in Brazil - Spain:

      Have a nice holiday!

    2. I would like to put focus on Mathias Klasenius. Whenever I saw him, he did very well. Same goes for both Dutchmen. To be honest, this year was no good year for assistant referees if we consider how the whole picture has been influenced by certain individual blackouts.

      My personal favourite calls are Zeinstra's onside in BVB-Real, Van Roekel's offside goal in the EL final and Mark Borsch's offside goal in the Confed Cup (stop at 1:13 please):

    3. It would have to be Van Roekel's flag in the Europa League final. However, the two calls listed by Niclas and yourself were excellent decisions too.
      Happy holidays to you too!

    4. Dear Niclas,

      I fully can agree on your statement about the worse performance in general of the assistant referees this year.
      But if you ask me, there were only 4 assistant referees who almost were faultless during this year:
      Van Roekel, Zeinstra, Mullarkey and Cann.

      Of course these guys had some unlucky performances, but they never scored below 8.3/8.4, and I think that we must underline that. Keeping in mind that the dutchmen still have more than 3 years to go, Mullarkey still 2 years and probably Cann who will have his last tournament next summer due to his age limit.

      Of course I may not underestimate the other assistant referees,
      but I hope that you can share my opinion about the consistent performance of these guys. And not to forget, these men only reached this level due to a fenomenal teamwork.

      I really hope that 2014 will be a better year for them.
      From the Netherlands we have one change on the international list: Berry Simons will leave the platform and Mario Diks will replace him. It seems that Mario Diks and Angelo Boonman (former assistant referee 1 with Bas Nijhuis) will form one team, what will bring the total to 4 trio's:

      Kuipers, Van Roekel, Zeinstra
      Nijhuis, Van de Ven, Schaap
      Makkelie, Goossens, Van Dongen
      Van Boekel/Blom, Diks, Boonman
      Only Hessel Steegstra who frequently switchs of team.

    5. Thanks for the information. I could however imagine that Schaap, being a talent for the future, soon goes with someone else like Makkelie.
      I don't want to be pedantic, but I would be very surprised if your statement on "never scored below 8.3/8.4" is true. Mullarkey obviously missed an offside goal in Porto-Atlético this season.

    6. You are completely right. My fault!
      I can share your opinion. In my eyes the Dutch FA would give a good signal to the Dutch referees by placing Makkelie, Schaap and Steegstra in one team. They are very talented these 3.
      Schaap got his first top clash just a few months ago (PSV - Ajax, with a outstanding call which lead to the 4-0 by Ji-Sung Park) and Steegstra already made his debut last season in the most grugde-match in Holland: Ajax - Feyenoord.

      Dave Goossens and Angelo Boonman are also two of Netherland's best assistant referees, but they just are unlucky with the referees in their team.

      Finally, I think that Makkelie could be able to replace Kuipers on the Elite list by now and 5 years.
      He is one of, maybe the best referee in the Netherlands with his foul detection. He already showed a lot of penalty kicks and red cards, but 97% of them were right.

      About Nijhuis, I think it's over with him, at least he will make the same development like his colleaggue Kuipers, but I don't think that that will happen, while in my eyes Nijhuis is our best referee in the Dutch Premier League.

      Furthermore, the Dutch FA is planning to put Jochem Kamphuis and Dennis Higler on the international list of referees in, let's say 3 years. These guys didn't convince me yet, but they are potential fifa referees if you ask me.

      Gözübüyük, Liesveld and Van Boekel are not convincing at the moment. It's too precarious.

      Well, I think that's enough for now. I am really looking forward for next year. Once again: Happy Holidays to you all.

    7. It's indeed a phenomenon. I remember that many Dutchmen told me that Blom was, some years ago, considered as the best official in Eredivisie. But on international level, he was rarely able to show it. Same goes for Nijhuis. As often said, I have the feeling that these men are struggling to cope with the pressure that lies on their shoulders in international matches. Maybe too much pushed by Uilenberg, not mentally stable enough though to fulfill the expectations. And that's a pity because Nijhuis is a very good referee.

      Thanks a lot, I wish you a good 2014, too.

  8. Agree to the ranking, Kuipers and Webb best in class

    1. My full ranking, since I was not able to attend the survey on time:
      1) Webb H.
      2) Kuipers B.
      3) Rizzoli N.
      4) Aguilar J.
      5) Roldan W.
      6) Brych F.
      7) Skomina D.
      8) Ricci S.
      9) Nishimura Y.
      10) Cakir C.
      11) Irmatov R.
      12) Kassai V.
      13) Proenca P.
      14) Hamouidi D.
      15) Gassama B.
      Webb and Kuipers best in class: Kuipers was deserverly recognized woth two final matches, Webb never fail each match who offciate and this is why i put him at first place, but really undenied distance between dutch and english guys.
      Good improvement in my opinion by Riccia nd Agular, respect the expectations. Roldan, Brych a safe bet. in my opinion AFc referees are still low perfomances and honestly I would insert Stark, Undiano, vekasco and Eriksson on top of Hamouidi and Gassama.

  9. Agree for sure with the top two. No Clattenburg on the list?

  10. Da Asco Carballo number 69

  11. Really good, non-political ranking!

  12. Good choices. Kuipers and Webb have clearly been the best. 2013 has not been a good year for Spanish refereeing and it is also reflected in the list.

    /Swedish observer

    1. The list is very mistaken.

  13. I can't say word about non-UEFA referees but in my opinion the best european referee in 2013 (and in second half of 2012) was Mazic. Yes, Kuipers whistled two big finals, but also one final (Brasil-Spain) and moreover Borusia-Napoli were at least not good. But, OK taking into consider everything I can accept award for Bjorn. Ericsson had a decent season with at least one nonacceptable performance, Salke-Galatasaray. Brych after such a mistake in Bundesliga shouldn't be withdrawn from WC but can't be ranked among first 50.
    My UEFA list for 2013:
    1. Kuipers
    2. Mazic
    3. Webb (the best season ever)
    4. Proenca
    5. Jug

    1. Borussia-Napoli was Velasco Carballo, you probably mean Borussia-Arsenal.

    2. Can you explain to me why you listed Proenca as no.4? I was quite surprised when he was considered very highly in our ranking as well. I don't doubt his referee skills, but 2013 has been a poor year for him actually. No CL K.O., 1 middling play-off between Greece and Romania, two group stage matches at Confed Cup and that's it.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Chefren, You're right, I was worng, it was Borusia-Arsenal.
      Honestly, I agree with you Niclas. So let' move Jug to fourth place, and Hategan to fifth. Firstly, Kassai, then Rizzoli, Brych and Proenca had a suprisingly not good season after previous excellent. Kassai after 2010 others after 2012. Of course I'm for their full support but also for deep analisys why it's happen and how to cope with. For Kassai it lasts for more than one season.

    5. You are right. One should analyze internally why some officials strongly decreased the quality of their performances after having handled big finals or having had great seasons. Maybe it is a human phenomenon, maybe there are different reasons.
      As for Kassai, my feeling is that he is on the right way. His group stage has been very strong and so he seems to have recovered from his career "depression". Maybe he never had a depression...most controversy was caused by his assistants.

  14. 1. Serge Gumienny
    2. Wolfgang Stark
    3. Alexandru Dan Tudor

  15. Enormous penalty of Etoo and Howard Webb at the limbo.
    Mourinho can be happy.............

  16. Anonymous7/1/14 20:21 - site da Confederacao Brasileira de Futebol divulgou a eleicao dos árbitros.

  17. Howard Webb is the best...

  18. I have been waiting for someone to share this post. This has actually made me think and I hope to read more. Thanks a lot for sharing with |


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