Ken Aston
Intl. since:
Country: England

Headmaster, lieutenat-colonel in the Indian Army, referee and referee instructor Kenneth George Aston took charge of two matches in the 1962 World Cup finals. He died in 2001.
1955-1963: FIFA list 1960-1963


Aston became referee in 1936. During WWII he joined the Indian army and finished the war as a lieutenant-colonel serving on a War Crimes Tribunal in Singapore. He picked up refereeing again in 1946 and became a League referee in 1950 until 1963. FIFA 1959-1963.

With only 3 years as an international referee Aston went to Chile for the 1962 World Cup. He officiated 2 matches, both with the home team. Aston did the European Cup Final in 1960 and the FA Cup final in 1963.


After Aston retired he was appointed to the FIFA referees committee and later chaired it.

Aston was at the FIFA office in 1966 when Bobby Charlton called. Charlton had read in the newspaper that he and his brother Jack had been booked in their World Cup match against Argentina the day before. The Charlton brothers apparently hadn't noticed the referee telling them.

Later that day, sitting in his MG sports car waiting for the traffic lights, Aston came up with the idea to have yellow and red cards.

Aston also introduced the substitute referee, who later became the 4th official, and he came up with the idea of the number board to announce the substitutions (but it was first introduced in the World Cup in 1998.

Battle of Santiago

It probably started with Italian newspapers insulting Chile and Chilean women. Within seconds of the World Cup match between hosts Chile and Italy, a bad foul was committed and the battle began. It was the BBC commentator who coined the phrase "Battle of Santiago". Two Italians were sent-off - Aston had to physically push them off the field - the police entered the field to stop a fight and many really vicious kicks and slaps in the face went unpunished. Aston seemed to be running after the players a lot, having completely lost control, arriving too late to do anything about it.

After receiving a kick, Leonel Sanchez (Chile) left-hooked Mario David (Italy) who later took revenge karate-kicking Leonel in the head. David was sent off, but Leonel wasn't. Pretty bad refereeing to our modern standards.

When after the final whistle another fight broke out and Ken Aston wanted to do something about it, one of his assistants took him by the arm and gently walked him off the field, telling him not to bother.

Have a look.

Did you know

  • In his book Leo Horn fluit referee Leo Horn describes Aston's fatal World Cup match, sitting in the stands with Peco Bauwens (famous former referee) and Sepp Herberger (German coach). Horn sees how the match starts immediately with players "spitting and kicking and biting" each other. Aston had no authority at all, Horn writes. After the match Horn went to look Aston up in his dressing room and finds the, then 48 year old, referee sitting dazed as a schoolboy who just received a beating. Horn told Aston he should have sent off a Chilean player as well, to show them who is boss.
    The Dutch referee describes his English colleague as someone who thinks too much of himself without the necessary experience. And Aston smoked too much, one and a half packet a day, according to Horn.
  • When interviewed about the war Aston told:
    ___I was at the time a gunner on a gun site on a bomber station in 1940 when bomber stations were being heavily attacked by German aircraft, and a match had been arranged between the Royal Air Force personnel and the gunners who were operating the low-level-attack guns. And there was this match being played near my gun site. For that reason I was allowed to referee the game. In the middle of the game we hear a low droning sound. It was a day of low clouds. We look up at the aircraft and it is a JU-88, a German light bomber. And so I raced to my gun, whipped on my steel helmet and respirator which we had to wear - you never knew when there was going to be a gas attack - and manned the guns in refereeing kit. How about that?
    Referee: Did you interrupt the time of the game to accomplish this?
    Aston: Well, the game had to be abandoned.
    Referee: OK, just checking.
    Aston: The game had to be abandoned, yes.
  • In the same interview Aston was asked about his time during the war tribunal and Aston tells about the hanging of senior Japanese officers. Among the 8,000 Japanese he was in command of there were 21 charged with war crimes against humanity and eight were sentenced to death. It was Aston's duty to inform them of the sentence and then had to attend the hangings.
  • Later in life Ken Aston went to the United States and started soccer camps.

Statistics for KEN ASTON
Totals Home Away Total
Penalties 2 0 2
Fouls 0 0 0
Yellow 0 0 0
YellowRed 0 0 0
Red 0 2 2
Averages Home Away Total
Penalties 0.18 0 0.09
Fouls 0 0 0
Yellow 0 0 0
YellowRed 0 0 0
Red 0 0.18 0.09

Based on 11 international matches

Date Score Yellow Red Penalties Fouls
European Cup 1962-1963
1/4 finalsBenficaDukla Prague1963-03-062 - 1 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
WC 1962
group stageChileItaly1962-06-022 - 0 0 (0-0)2 (0-2)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
group stageChileSwitzerland1962-05-303 - 1 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
Fairs Cup 1961 - 1962
1/2 finalsBarcelonaCrvena Zvezda1962-04-254 - 1 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)1 (1-0)0 (0-0)
WC 1962 qualifiers - Europe
SwitzerlandSweden1961-10-293 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
European Cup 1961-1962
preliminary roundFrederikstadStandard1961-09-200 - 2 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
Intercontinetal Cup
2nd legReal MadridPeñarol1960-09-045 - 1 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
IrelandChile1960-03-302 - 0 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)1 (1-0)0 (0-0)
FrancePortugal1959-11-115 - 3 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
Fairs Cup 1958 - 1960
2nd roundInternazionaleBarcelona1959-09-302 - 4 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)
Olympic Games 1960 qualifiers
Norway OTDenmark OT1959-09-132 - 4 0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)0 (0-0)