Among so many other things, what makes a soccer match successful is the referees. They are the ones in charge of making sure that the game is played fairly and according to the rules.
This is why it’s important to have good referees, and over the years, there have been some amazing ones. Here are 15 of the best soccer referees of all time, ranked.
Importance of a Soccer Referee
A soccer referee is an important part of the game. They are responsible for making sure that the match is played fairly and according to the rules. This is not always an easy job, and it can be difficult to make tough calls during a match. However, good referees make sure that the game is enjoyable for everyone involved.
Referees are the people who can make or break a match and at times they have to take unpopular decisions. But above all they must be fair and impartial.
Below, we shall be looking at the top 15 best soccer referees of all the time who have stood apart in their excellence and will be looking at their career’s most important details:
1. Mark Geiger
Mark Geiger is an American soccer referee who has officiated in international tournaments like the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. He is considered to be one of the best referees in the world, and he has a lot of experience working in high-pressure situations.
He has been on the FIFA International Referees List for 11 years and is considered to be one of the top referees in the world. He has officiated in some of the biggest games in soccer, and he is always up for a challenge.
What people tend to love about him is his unbiased approach to refereeing. He doesn’t favor any team, and he always tries to call the game as he sees it. This makes him one of the most respected referees in the game.
2. Martin Atkinson
Martin Atkinson is a English soccer referee who was born on January 24, 1971. He has been a FIFA referee since 2006 and has officiated at the UEFA Champions League, Europa League, and World Cup. He is considered to be one of the best referees in the world.
He is known as the soccer referee with unparalleled stamina, as he has never had to come off the field for a substitution in his career.
He started his career at a very young age of 16 as a local match referee and has never looked back since.
3. Nestor Pitana
Nestor Pitana is an Argentine referee who has been involved in some of the biggest matches in recent years. He was the referee for the World Cup final in 2018, and he has also officiated at the Olympics, the Copa America, and various other important tournaments.
Pitana is known for his excellent skills as a referee, and he has shown himself to be capable of handling difficult situations during matches. He is considered to be one of the best referees in the world, and he is sure to continue to officiate at major tournaments in the future.
He is at times criticized for his decisions, but overall, he is considered to be a very good referee.
4. Cüneyt Çakır
Cüneyt Çakır is a Turkish soccer referee who is known for his excellent work in the UEFA Champions League. He has been a referee in the tournament since 2010, and he has officiated some of the most important matches in the competition. He is also known for his strictness when it comes to enforcing the rules.
He started his career as a referee in 2004, and he has since officiated many high-profile matches. He is considered to be one of the best referees in the world, and he is often praised for his excellent work.
5. Bjorn Kuipers
Bjorn Kuipers is a Dutch referee who has been officiating since 2004. He has been in charge of some of the biggest games in world football, including the World Cup and the Champions League. He is known for his excellent decision making and for being fair to both sides.
6. Frank De Bleecker
Frank De Bleeckere is a Belgian soccer referee who has been involved in the game for more than 25 years. He started refereeing in 1988 and made his debut as a FIFA referee in 1999. He has since refereed at three World Cups (2002, 2006, 2010) and three European Championships (2004, 2008, 2012). He was also the referee for the 2010 Champions League final.
De Bleeckere was notable for his excellent performance at the World Cup in 2010. He refereed the match between Spain and Portugal, which was a highly charged match with a lot of controversy. De Bleeckere managed to keep control of the game and made some important calls that helped to ensure a fair match.
7. Oscar Ruiz
Presently a FIFA referee, Oscar Ruiz has officiated in many high-profile games including at the Copa America Centenario. He started officiating in 1997 and got his FIFA badge in 2004. He was also on the list of referees for the 2014 World Cup but didn’t make it to the final cut.
He is one of the fresh referees on this list and has plenty of time to add more accomplishments to his name.
8. Pedro Proença
Proença started his refereeing career in 1988 and was appointed as a FIFA referee in 1998. He has officiated at three World Cups (2002, 2006, 2010) and six European Championships (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020). His most notable matches include the UEFA Champions League final in 2005 and the FIFA World Cup final in 2014.
9. Howard Webb
Webb is a former English professional footballer who refereed at the highest level from 2000 to 2014. He was selected as a referee for the 2002 and 2010 World Cups, and also officiated at UEFA Euro 2004, the 2007 UEFA Champions League Final, and the 2010-11 UEFA Champions League Final. Webb is widely considered to be one of the best referees of his era.
10. Pierluigi Collina
Collina is an Italian former professional football referee who refereed at the highest level from 1992 to 2005. He was selected as a referee for the 1998 and 2002 WC, and also officiated at UEFA Euro 2000, the 2004 UEFA Champions League Final, and the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final.
Widely considered to be one of the greatest referees of all time, Collina is known for his strict interpretation of the laws of the game and his ability to keep control of matches.
11. Felix Brych
Felix Brych is a German referee who has been officiating since 2004. He made his debut in the UEFA Champions League in 2007 and has since refereed a number of high-profile fixtures. Brych was also selected to referee the 2014 World Cup final, which he handled very well. He is considered one of the best referees in the world and is currently a FIFA referee.
12. Michel Vautrot
Michel Vautrot was a French soccer referee who refereed in the World Cup on two occasions, in 1982 and 1986. He was known for being a fair referee, and although he made some mistakes, he was overall considered to be a good one. He officiated in over 400 matches during his career.
13. Peter Mikkelsen
Mikkelsen was a Danish referee who officiated at the 1974 and 1978 WC. He also refereed the UEFA 1976 Euro final.
The amazing referee passed away in 2019 but, during his tenure, he was known as a fair and honest referee. He always tried to keep the game flowing and let the players play.
Mikkelsen also had a great sense of humor and would often lighten up the mood during tense moments.
14. Sandor Puhl
Sandor Puhl was born in Hungary in 1947. He started refereeing in 1967 and made his FIFA debut in 1979. Puhl refereed at three WC, including the final between Italy and West Germany in 1990. He also officiated at the 1992 European Championship.
Puhl is remembered for a number of controversial decisions, most notably the disallowing of a goal by England’s Alan Shearer during their group game against Romania at the 1994 World Cup. However, he is considered to be one of the best referees of his generation and was awarded an honorary FIFA badge in 2005.
15. Kim Milton Nielsen
Kim Milton Nielsen is a Danish former football referee who officiated in the World Cup, UEFA CL and European Championships. He was also a member of FIFA’s Referees Committee.
Nielsen refereed at three WC: 1994, 1998 and 2002. He also refereed matches at the UEFA CL and UEFA Cup. In 2004, he was appointed as a member of FIFA’s Referees Committee. He served as a referee until his retirement in 2007.