May 15, 2013

"It's been hard work", Björn Kuipers says ahead Amsterdam final

When Björn Kuipers blows his whistle to start Wednesday's 2013 UEFA Europa League final he will become the first referee to officiate at a showpiece on home turf in 22 years, since Italy's Tullio Lanese oversaw the 1991 European Champion Clubs' Cup final in Bari. The 40-year-old tells why it is an honour he must share with many, how well he knows the Amsterdam ArenA and how a run on a windswept Dutch beach was more enjoyable than it sounds.

Caught by Collina at the beach: Björn Kuipers (c) Congratulations, how does it feel to be refereeing such an important game?
Björn Kuipers: It feels good. I was very happy to get the appointment to do the Europa League final. And it's in my own country so it's great. I was very surprised because I was thinking it was not possible to have a referee from the country where the final is. But this is very special as it's in Holland, but even just doing a final is very special.
I was at the beach when I got the call. I was doing some training on the coast of Holland, and Pierluigi Collina was calling me. I was very proud. I was happy for my team, happy to give them the news that we had the final. I was also thinking about the people who helped me to reach this: my coaches, the people at UEFA, the people at the Dutch FA, my team. It's been hard work, but we got some bonus. Could we speak a bit about this stadium. What do you think makes it such a special venue?
Kuipers: I know the stadium very well. I have refereed here many, many times for Ajax, and it's great. Amsterdam is a great city to have this final here. The stadium is great and it's sold out. The facilities are great so we are ready for a very nice evening. What does it feel like when you walk out of that tunnel onto this pitch, with the teams behind you and the crowd cheering?
Kuipers: That's always a special moment. When I was a young referee, I never thought about elite refereeing – it was my hobby. So you can see how it goes, how fast you can progress. When I go out, with the teams behind me and the music playing, it's a great feeling, great. How do you prepare for such a big game?
Kuipers: We have been preparing for a long time. It's never just about one day. If we get an appointment we clear our schedules. Last Friday we had the debriefing for the Dortmund-Real Madrid match (with Jaap Uilenberg). We brought the team together and analysed everything in our matches: what we did well, what we did not and what we can improve. We do it every match.
We prepare in everything: fitness, we analyse the teams and we analyse our previous matches. It's not a one-hour job, it takes a long time to prepare for a match like this. And I always say it is not all about me. I am the referee and the end responsibility is mine, but I never act alone. I need my team, I need everyone around me. I am very happy with my team – we have performed very well over the past year. You were in charge of the 2011 UEFA Super Cup. Is it any different when you're walking out onto the pitch as the referee in a final as opposed to a regular game?
Kuipers: Yes, of course, a final is a final. Every match is important but to handle a final is great. But I'm not officiating any differently to how I do another match: it is still a game between two teams. The referee team is the third team. We are prepared and I hope we will handle the match very well. You will see tomorrow.


  1. Aso Kuipers himself was reluctant to have a chance since the final will be played in Amsterdam :D

  2. Great read. Yes, I agree Chefren he wasn't expecting the appointment since the final is being held his homeland. An unexpected supriese though. However, what an honour this is for him and his team. In my opinion best referee from Europe in 2013 (so far) and deserves his appointment. Also, I am really happy that after 22 years this 'myth' has finally been put to bed.

  3. Anonymous15/5/13 17:55

    what day we will know the name by the champions final? Monday? Thanks

  4. Yes, probably on Monday. Perhaps on Sunday, but I do not think so.

    1. Monday? Are you sure?
      I remember that one year ago we were lucky because the news of Proença was leaked, but if UEFA say nothing, we should always wait until Thursday (two days prior to the match).
      Am I wrong?

    2. As far as I remember it was also a Monday when Kassai's final nomination became public on (?). And if not, then we'll know it on Monday nonetheless - at least I'll try :P

    3. Correction, Kassai's article came on a Wednesday.

  5. Decisions or other things concerning today's final should be discussed in the other thread about his final appointment. Thanks.

  6. Anonymous17/5/13 00:27

    EL final is over after a great performance of Kuipers. UEFA has chosen a ref whose style was nearly perfect for the match.
    Now the focus should be on CL final: I really hope that UEFA cares about the match and tries to find a ref whose style fits to both Teams. What should be his profile? To define it, we should have a short view on the last clashes between Dortmund and Bayern. The last 5 were handle by Peter Gagelmann (both league-matches in this season and the match in Munich last season) and Knut Kircher (deciding match in Dortmund last season and german Cup this season). Thus, the coming match will be a final, we should concentrate on Kircher because his Dortmund-Bayern - matches were more important than those of Gagelmann. The skills of Kircher (he did a well in both matches): very communicative, great personality, lets the game flow, good trade-off between being strict and creating a good atmosphere on the pitch, usually not too many cards, he has the courage to avoid cards if he has the impression that it is good for the game.
    --> Referees who do not fullfill these skills are IMO:
    - Cakir: he works with many cards, he follows the LOTG but he doesn´t Interpret them
    - Velasco: sometimes too many cards, not that communicative
    - Lannoy: IMO - i know some of you will disagree - he has a lack of personality. If there is an aggressive atmosphere, he´ll have several problems to calm it down.
    --> The euorpean ref who fullfills lots of these skills, but who is definitively out because of his last performance and because of Wembley 11:
    - Viktor Kassai.
    --> Refs who fullfill the majority of these skills:
    - Nicola Rizzoli: he has personality,IMO he also communicates with the players, he doesn´t exaggerate with cards
    - Jonas Eriksson: personality, lenient style, he doesn´t give freekicks for each foul -> he interprets the law to support the game, good communication with the players, good trade-off between being strict and creating good atmosphere.

    = IMO Eriksson is most similar in his style to Knut Kircher who was able to totally control the most important clashes between Dortmund and Bayern. With regard to those criteria, Eriksson should be ref of CL-final 2013.

    Nevertheless, I believe that UEFA doesn´t think like that. So I have to differ between the most suitable ref and the chosen ref by UEFA: I think the chosen ref will be Carlos Velasco Carballo. He had big and important matches in the past and there is no spanish Team in the final.

    best regards Phil


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