Euro 2020: PM praises England ahead of final
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Bjorn Kuipers has been chosen to referee the Euro 2020 final between Italy and England. This will not be the first high-stakes England game the Dutchman has been a part of, while he will certainly be under the spotlight on Sunday evening following the controversy which surrounded England’s semi-final victory over Denmark, refereed by Danny Makkelie
England’s extra-time win was clouded by the controversy over a penalty decision which many believed to be ‘soft’, a second ball being on the pitch and a laser pen being pointed at Kasper Schmeichel.
A petition was even started after the game which called for the fixture to be replayed.
Kuipers is an interesting character in the refereeing world, donning the title of ‘the world’s richest referee’.
The 48-year-old has amassed a personal wealth of over £10million, according to reports, stemming from his time in charge of a prominent Dutch supermarket chain.
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One of the big games which Kuipers officiated was between Italy and England, the two sides set to compete in the Euros final, at the 2014 World Cup.
Those with good memories, or are simply unable to forget the misery, will recall a 2-1 triumph for the Italians in their opening fixture of the tournament.
Despite the winner coming off the head of controversial figure Mario Balotelli, the refereeing performance was largely absent from any controversy.
The humid, tropical conditions in Manaus that night made it difficult for both the players and the officials, so Kuipers should be in for an easier time in north-west London on Sunday.
Four years later, the Dutchman was the man in the middle once again when England took on Sweden at the 2018 World Cup.
As quarter-finals go, it was fairly straight-forward for the Three Lions who ran out 2-0 victors, thanks in part to Jordan Pickford’s heroics in goal.
Again, Kuipers achieved the aim of going largely unnoticed in the middle, although his recent exploits in club football have been markedly more fiery.
Back in May, he officiated the Champions League semi-final second leg between Manchester City and PSG, with the Blues claiming a 2-0 victory.
In that tie, Angel Di Maria saw red for a stamp on Fernandinho, while six of his team-mates were also noted in Kuipers’ book.
Italian midfielder Marco Verratti, who is firmly in contention to start on Sunday, claimed that Kuipers swore at him during that fixture.
When all is said and done, Kuipers is a big-time referee who has officiated seven UEFA finals, including the 2014 Champions League final between Real Madrid and Atletico.
The VAR official is Bastian Dankert, a German who England fans will hope has put their round of 16 defeat behind his country.
Kuipers will be hoping for a quiet night, while those watching with the Three Lions on their chest will hope that if a decision is thrust upon him, it falls England’s way.
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