Euro 2012 official and SPL referee Collum elevated to FIFA Elite Officials level



By Adam Higgins
Chief Scotland Correspondent



The 33-year old was given eight European and international appointments last season- mainly in the UEFA Europa League 


Scottish Premier League referee Willie Collum has been upgraded to the FIFA Elite Referee category after twenty years in officiating and a number of high-profile appointments.

For the first time ever, Scotland now has more than one official operating at the highest echelons of the sport with the 33-year-old joining Craig Thomson on the lucrative list of twenty-four members which are the world’s leading referees. Other good news in terms of officiating in the country, Morag Pirie also becomes the country’s first female referee to progress to the Elite Development level.

Both Collum and Thomson are currently in Poland and Ukraine as part of the Scottish team of match officials taking part in Euro 2012 however in an exclusive interview for the Scottish Football Association website, Collum said that the announcement was a culmination of a twenty-year dedication to being a referee.

"I have been involved in refereeing since I was 14 and this excellent news makes that commitment all the more worthwhile," he said. "Obviously it is great news for me but it is great news for Scottish refereeing. We have never had two referees in that category before and I am absolutely delighted to have been nominated. It shows the work we put is being recognised at the highest level and it shows other referees who are making their own journeys that there really is no barrier to success. Working in as intense an environment as Scottish football gives you tremendous experience as a referee and, certainly in the last few years we have all had to handle a variety of situations."

Willie was the fourth official for the defending champions Spain's 1-1 draw against Italy in Gdansk while he has undertaken other fourth official, reserve official and additional assistant referees since. In 2011-12, Collum's domestic season was delayed having partaken in the Under 20 European Championships last summer in Colombia with the SPL campaign beginning at the end of July. He was eased into action being placed in the middle for the Scottish Third Division clash between Annan and Alloa Athletic on 20th August- where he showed his first red card of the campaign. In April, he gave four penalties in an SPL encounter between Rangers and St Mirren at Ibrox while dismissing a St Mirren defender. His final game was Aberdeen's goalless draw over St Mirren on the last day of the Scottish Premier League season. Overall, he took charge of 43 matches handing out 142 yellow cards and 9 red cards.

"That experience has served us well when we have been appointed to European and international matches and now that the Scottish referee team are at the Euro Championships, I believe we are well equipped to deal with the unique pressure and environment of a major international tournament. I would like to thank the Scottish FA and [Head of Referee Development] John Fleming for their support – not just to myself but the whole refereeing fraternity - and also to Hugh Dallas, who remains a huge supporter and champion for Scottish refereeing in his position at UEFA."

John Fleming believes that the promotion of Collum is testament to the work undertaken by the Scottish FA’s Referee Development Department.

"Firstly, I am absolutely thrilled for Willie,” he said. “He is one of the most dedicated, focused and professional people I have met, never mind in refereeing. That drive and search for constant improvement has now taken him to the top of refereeing. Having Craig and Willie at Elite level and Morag at Elite Development is a huge boost to Scottish refereeing and they are now role models for all aspiring referees. They have shown that the path to the very top is possible and the incentive is now there for others to follow."

Morag Pirie added: "This has come as a wonderful surprise. The Scottish FA’s programme ensures that our referees are professional in all but name; from the training regime, workshops and feedback mechanisms. I am delighted that those efforts have been recognised and it shows that hard work does pay off."


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