UEFA Euro 2012: Poland & Ukraine

Referee Review

Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands) 



By Adam Higgins

Chief Football Editor 




Age-  39             FIFA Referee since-  2006             Promoted to the Elite List-  2009          Dutch Eredivisie referee since 2002

Season 2011-12:      Matches-  35        Yellow cards-  135          Red cards-  12          Penalties-  7

Our average rating from Euro 2012:  15.5/20 (7.75/10)

Euro 2012 statistics-   Matches-  2        Yellow cards-  8         Red cards-  0         Penalties-  0       Average cards per game-  4

Best game of the tournament:  Friday 15th June 2012         Group D Game Two        Ukraine 0-2 France

                                          Donbass Arena, Donetsk (Ukraine)


If you had asked any football fan at random before this season whether they had heard of referee Bjorn Kuipers, the chances of an affirmative answer would have been very slim. Ask the same question again now and there's little doubt the name will ring a bell following his controversial performance in Barcelona's 3-1 Champions League win over AC Milan earlier this campaign. The Dutch official awarded Barcelona two penalties- one came after Alessandro Nesta had pulled Sergio Busquets' shirt in the lead up to a corner kick, and Kuipers has since become one of the best-known match officials in the game. Nevertheless, he has a passion for football, and he has become one of the most highly-rated referees in Netherlands. His status in the Eredivisie earned Kuipers the right to referee the league's top games, but not everybody was as impressed as the KNVB. Kuipers failed to spot one of the most controversial incidents in Dutch football history in November 2010 when he was in charge of the Eredivisie clash between Ajax and PSV. After a brawl on the pitch, Luis Suarez bit opponent Otman Bakkal's shoulder right in front of the man in charge, but Kuipers missed the flashpoint, much to the dismay of the PSV players. Nonetheless, UEFA have consistently backed the 39-year-old throughout the years, displayed by the decision to select him as one of the twelve referees to go to Euro 2012. Although Kuipers has received his fair share of criticism over the years, there's little doubt that he is a well-respected and efficient referee. He is authoritative, always close to the action, and isn't easily intimidated by fans, players or coaches. Kuipers, who co-owns a chain of supermarkets and also owns his own hair salon in Amsterdam, took charge of just two matches in Poland & Ukraine. His first of the tournament came on day three as action in Group C got underway. He was in charge of the day's second game and one of the British representatives at the tournament- Republic of Ireland- in their much awaited opening clash with Croatia. He wasn't helped out by the sounding of a whistle in the crowd which put many players off throughout the game. Also, there was one or two brief stoppages in the game as flares were started in the stands by Croatia fans who always seemed to want to cause trouble and not actually do what they were there for- supporting their nation. He also waved away a stonewall penalty claim in the first half when Robbie Keane was fouled just inside the penalty area by Gordon Schilderfeld but nothing was given much to the Irish's anguish which began to anger their 20,000 supporters in Poznan. There was an issue about offside and the interpretation of the law after Croatia's second goal scored by Nikica Jelavic regarding whether the ball was passed through deliberately or whether it came via a deflection off Irish left-back Stephen Ward. Despite not having his best game, the 39-year old showed that he was capable of handling the pressure of getting the big decisions right- just about- in what was his first major international tournament as a referee. His next game was slightly strange. He was appointed to oversee co-hosts Ukraine's second Group D match at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk against France although the weather had a major part to play. With heavy rain descending on the Ukrainian capital and a thunderstorm forecasted, the match started off as normal at the allotted 5pm kick-off with rain pouring down. However, after just five minutes, huge puddles began to appear on the pitch and lightning emerged in the sky prompting Bjorn Kuipers to call the players off and suspend the game. The players awaited the verdict of the officials and UEFA in the tunnel area with the governing body keen to get the game played on the night with a hectic group schedule on their hands. Play was suspended until 6pm (an hour after the original kick-off time) after the deluge had cleared and fans had taken shelter when an incident free match was played out which France won 2-0. Nothing whatsoever for the referee to do decision wise in terms of a major capacity. After the group stage games had been completed, it was confirmed by UEFA that Kuipers was one of the four officials along with Viktor Kassai, Wolfgang Stark and Carlos Velasco Carballo who were to be leaving the tournament and returning home. Overall, the tournament was a complete whitewash for Kuipers who had to deal with more issues not relating to the football being played on the pitch than any of the other eleven referees. There wasn't a lot for him to officiate on in the two games he took charge of and he can be happy with his two displays and should be expecting the call for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

  

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