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14 Best Soccer Referees In The World

Is there really such a thing as the best soccer referees in the world? Believe it or not, they play a significant role in every match, and this type of information is necessary to see how things might go. A good referee will stay unbiased and focus on helping make the game as fair as possible.

What readers will notice is that most of the referees making this list fall in their 40s. This seems to be the prime of a referee’s career, given the physical demands of running up and down the field all the time. Referees have a ton of experience by their 40s, but they are still young enough to handle the physical aspects as well.

Currently, these are the 14 best soccer referees in the world. They have a strong reputation for being fair, they generally have a lot of experience, and most fans do not feel like they have to worry about them holding a grudge.

1. Daniele Orsato

As the most recent winner of the International Federation of Football History and Statistics award as the best referee, Orsato is certainly at the top of a lot of lists. He has been working as a full-time international referee for FIFA for the last decade, and he has a total of three matches under his belt already.

The most notable match he worked on recently was the 2020 UEFA Champions League final. At 45 years old, he still has plenty of years left to put together a solid resume as a top official.

2. Bjorn Kuipers

Kuipers has refereed in a lot of big matches since joining the elite group in 2006. He is one of the most physically fit referees in the game right now, and he has only dealt with a few minor controversies throughout his career.

Not only has he done a lot of great matches in his career, but he has done them for a while. He first got a taste of the biggest stage around 2011, but he is on the shortlist of making many different appearances for big matches all around the world.

3. Felix Brych

After getting his law degree and focusing on that part of his life for so long, Felix Brych decided to become a high-level football referee instead. That has worked out well for him, as he has turned into one of the best in the world as a UEFA elite group referee. He has taken part in a lot of quality matches, including a few big ones at the 2008 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Whenever he is on the pitch, the controversies stay to a relative minimum. It seems like he has great control of the game, and understands how to make sure that everything stays as fair as possible. When necessary, he does take the initiative and will handle problems as quickly and efficiently as possible.

4. Antonio Mateu Lahoz

The guy many believe is the best Spanish football referee in the game right now, Antonio Mateu Lahoz always does well when being judged by professionals and players. He has taken part in many international competitions, including the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Many Spanish soccer fans know him as being a referee at plenty of El Clasicos. He is constantly doing matches in his home country, but he is not afraid to shy away from Spain and go to other places as well.

5. Damir Skomina

Hailing from Slovenia, Skomina has been with FIFA since 2003. He was able to get in at a pretty early age, which has allowed him to build his way up to take on some pretty major matches.

Whether it is a Champions League Finals or Europa League Finals, it is not uncommon to see him on the pitch when the matches matter the most. He is one of the calmest and collected referees in the game right now, and he is known for never showing any favoritism whatsoever.

6. Anthony Taylor

A relative newcomer compared to a lot of people above him, Anthony Taylor has only about eight years of history with FIFA. At 42, the English referee is really starting to make a name for himself as one of the best of the best.

He has been able to do quite a few big matches during his career, but just this past year, he landed the spot as the main referee in the 2020 UEFA Super Cup. Expect to see a lot more of him in the next few years all over the world.

7. Martin Atkinson

Whether it is refereeing in England or as a FIFA representative, Atkinson has made a name for himself as a very capable referee. He is a very cerebral referee who still covers quite a bit of ground despite being a little on the older side at 49 years old. He has been around for a while, but he has not seemed to lose a step just yet.

In England, many fans are always arguing about certain referees showing favoritism towards one side over the other. While Atkinson is not immune to those allegations entirely, he receives a lot fewer complaints than others.

8. Nestor Pitana

Most of the top referees are from Europe, but Nestor Patana is the exception. He is a standout from Argentina and has done a lot of top matches in South America. However, he has also worked internationally for the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cup.

In fact, Pitana made a name for himself as one of the officials for the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The match went without any incident, and many people praised him for his ability to control the game at all times.

9. Slavko Vincic

With over a decade of experience as a full international for FIFA, Vincic has shown that he can control the match at all times. He has avoided a lot of controversy for the most part, which is a big part of being one of the world’s top referees.

Many believe that he will be on the shortlist of referees for big matches in the next few years, as he is entering the prime of his career. It will be interesting to see just how many opportunities open up for him, but fans seem to be very happy with what he brings to the table overall.

10. Mark Geiger

There are already a lot of top-notch referees from the United States, but Mark Geiger has shown that there is potential down the road for him as well. He has evolved into one of the best referees, thanks to a lot of experience and positive feedback. No matter what level he is refereeing for, he controls a lot of controversy in matches and keeps things relatively tame.

He certainly likes to referee in his home league of Major League Soccer, but he is a FIFA international referee as well. He has had the chance to officiate over some pretty big matches, and he is still going strong as a dependable option.

11. Cüneyt Çakır

As the most respected referee in the Turkish Super League, Çakır has also overlooked some pretty important matches in soccer history. For example, he was a referee for numerous big Champions League matches and many of the big matchups domestically in the Turkish Super League.

Some may find him a bit polarizing, but the statistics tell a different story. The International Federation of Football History and Statistics views him as one of the most accurate and fair referees in the game right now.

12. Clement Turpin

As one of the youngest guys to make this list, Clement Turpin has a bright future ahead of him as a football referee. He has been a FIFA-listed referee since 2010, and part of the UEFA elite group since 2012. Since then, he has evolved into one of the best referees for the French Football Federation and around the world.

He was part of the Olympic games in Brazil, and he also officiated during the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Do not be surprised to see him more and more in big matches as time goes on.

13. Danny Makkelie

The Dutchman has been a FIFA-listed referee since 2011, and that has allowed him to take on some pretty big matches throughout his career. In particular, he has worked international football championships, and he was part of the video assistant refereeing team at the 2018 FIFA World Cup final.

He seems to be getting bigger and bigger opportunities as he continues to prove himself, and many teams and fans are satisfied with what he brings to the table.

14. Jose Sanchez Martinez

Rounding out the list is Jose Sanchez Martinez from Spain. He does a lot of big-league games, but he is also a UEFA second group referee.

Starting at just 17 years old, Sanchez moved up the ranks rather quickly in Spain. That has allowed him to take on some more responsibilities within Europe, including some international matches. His first senior international match came in 2019 when he was part of the refereeing team for the Argentina and Venezuela match.

Working in both the men’s and women’s games, he is one to look out for in the next few years. He is on his way to getting bigger and bigger matches with the way he is in control at all times.