Referees Top 10 - 2007
Number 1: Markus Merk
Markus Merk, born March 15, 1962 in Kaiserslautern, Germany, has been a referee for over 21 years. He was born very near the stadium at Kaiserslauern, the Fritz-Walter Stadium, which he still describes as 'a very emotional place'. He was 12 when he first started going to games and was immediately 'impressed by the way the referees and their assistants worked'.
Number 2: Jorge Larrionda
This referee, full name Jorge Luis Larrionda Pietrafiesa, was born 9 March 1968. Jorge was a football player himself, as striker he made it into the sixth division. As referee he made his debut in the first division in 1993 and was an international referee since 1998. He was seen by many as the very best referee in South America.
Larrionda retired at the end of 2011.
Number 3: Lubos Michel'
Born in the then Republic of Czecho-Slovakia in 1968, Lubos Michel had an impressive career as a referee and he was considered one of the world's best. He was only 25 when he became a FIFA referee.
Number 4: Roberto Rosetti
Roberto Rosetti was widely believed to be one of the world's best referees of his time. He was known as a strict man - the regulations were his bible - but also as a good communicator. He talked a lot to the players and had no problem getting his points across.
Number 5: Sergio Pezzotta
Born in Rosario, Santa Fe, Sergio Fabián Pezzotta is an international top referee and one of the most severe referees in the AFA League. He tends to show red cards whenever the rules allow him to. He started refereeing in Argentina´s 1st division in 1999.
He used to be a CONMEBOL Elite Category referee until he retired in 2012 because of his age.
Number 6: Claus Bo Larsen
It came as a bit of a shock for everybody in Denmark (and himself), when it turned out Claus Bo Larsen, who did pass the fitness test and was on the long list of 44, was not selected to officiate at the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany. The same happened for Euro 2008, and again for WC 2010. The Danes must be very bad lobbyists. Larsen was a UEFA Elite Category referee until he retired at the end of 2010.
Number 7: Robert Malek
Robert Malek, one of worldref's favorites in 2007, received his FIFA badge in 2001, was added to UEFA's Premier List in January 2007, but demoted to the Premier Development category in 2009 and further down to category 1 in 2011.
Number 8: Frank de Bleeckere
A third generation referee, Belgian Frank de Bleeckere started as a football player, but too often injured he decided to change his career. Belgian's World Cup record holder with 7 matches had to retire at the end of 2011 because of the age limit.
Number 9: Alexandru Dan Tudor
In UEFA and FIFA rankings, Alexandru Tudor is the best Romanian referee. Dan Tudor became a UEFA Premier Category referee at the start of season 2010-2011, 6 moths later that category seemed to have disappeared, he now is a 1st category ref.
Number 10: Serge Gumienny
This Belgian referee, who not only officiates in Belgium, but also - like his colleagues - sometimes in the Netherlands, has taken charge of international matches since 2003. In 2009 he was promoted to a Premier (now Elite Development) Development referee which meant he had a chance to move up, but got stuck there and was demoted to the 1st category in 2012.
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Bummer! Just outside our top 10: Carlos Chandía
Chilean referee Carlos Chandía started playing football at the age of 5 and almost made it as a professional playing 5 years for a team called Nublense. He quit mainly for economical reasons and started a career in refereeing and a family. The number one referee in Chile made it to the 2006 World Cup finals albeit as a substitute and didn't get to officiate a match. He retired in at the end of 2009, the year he turned 45.