Top 10 Best Football Referees Of All Time | Exclusive List

great italian referee Pierluigi Collina Definitely the greatest football referee of all time. He is the only officer to have won the award”fifa referee of the yearAward a record six times throughout. Apart from this, he also conducted many great sports, such as 2002 FIFA World Cup Final And this 1999 UEFA Champions League Final, german referee marcus merck and english ref Howard Webb He also deserves a mention among the best football referees of all time.

The best football referees are trained in FIFA-affiliated national camps, and each national organization recommends its top officials to FIFA for its final FIFA international referees list. The yellow and red cards taken by the referees were introduced by former FIFA refereeing committee member Ken Aston and were first used at the 1970 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.

FIFA allows referees to wear jerseys in one of five colours, which are black, red, yellow, green and blue, but requires referees to wear black shorts and black socks during any game.

Referees were first described in football by Richard Mulcaster in 1581, and since then, they have played an important role in any match. So, The Sports Show Team Made A List Top 10 best football referees in history.

10. Frank de Blécare

Franck de Blékere became the Belgian Professional Referee of the Year for a record seven times. And he achieved this feat from 2000 to 2013. He made his debut in 1984 and served as a referee affiliated with FIFA from 1998 to 2012.

He made his international debut on 24 March 2001 in a 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifier in a match between Cyprus and Ireland. Bleicher continued his international travels as a referee in several matches.

He officiated at the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship, 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification and the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship. In addition to his international career, he also officiated at UEFA Euro 2004 and 2008.

He made his name as the only Belgian referee to officiate in 7 World Cup matches. Bilikere officiated matches at the 2006 FIFA World Cup and 2010 FIFA World Cup. He also served as one of FIFA’s 16 “referring technical advisors” in 2012.

9. Oscar Ruiz

oscar ruiz

Retired Colombian football referee Oscar Ruiz Acosta made a name for himself as the best Colombian referee of all time. He served as a referee affiliated with FIFA from 1995 to 2011.

Acosta now serves as a member of the FIFA Referee Instructors Team. He made his international debut on 12 July 1995 in a match between Paraguay vs Venezuela. He officiated in three consecutive World Cups from 2002 FIFA World Cup to 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Ruiz came under severe criticism after sending off Yoann Gourcuff in the final group-stage match between France and South Africa.

Following his retirement from active refereeing, he served as a member of CONMEBOL’s Referee Assistance Program. Apart from his football career, he is also a lawyer by profession.

8. Pedro Proenca

pedro proenca

Portuguese football referee Pedro Proenca named him the best referee of modern times. It still governs international football. He became the first referee to officiate in both the finals of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA European Championships in the same calendar year.

Proenca became a FIFA affiliated referee in 2003 and was also listed in UEFA’s elite category in 2009. He received the Best Referee award in 2007 and 2011 from the Portuguese Football Federation.

IFFHS also named him the Best Referee in the World in 2012. In addition to his international achievements, he also officiated in several important club matches.

Proenca officiated for the Taça de Portugal Final, Taça da Liga Final and Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira. He also officiated in a large number of matches at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

7. Michel Vatrot

michel votrot

Retired French football referee Michel Vautrot is considered one of the best referees in France. But he made a hilariously funny decision at the 1990 FIFA World Cup. He added 8 minutes of stoppage time in the semi-final between Italy and Argentina. Later, he said that he forgot to check his watch.

He refereed two matches at the 1982 FIFA World Cup and three matches at the 1990 FIFA World Cup. He also officiated the 1983 FIFA Club World Cup Final at the Tokyo National Stadium.

In addition to his international career, Wotrot also refereed matches at three European Championships from 1984 to 1988. He then officiated the 1986 Euro Cup Final between FC Barcelona and FC Steaua Bucharest.

IFFHS named him the Best Referee in the World twice in a row. He was heavily criticized after being banned by FIFA for paying a £50,000 bribe to FC Roma. one of the following richest football clubRoma did this before the 1986 European Cup semi-finals.

6. Peter Mikkelsen

peter mikelsen

Danish former football referee Peter Mikkelsen is often considered a pioneer. great danish referee, He served as a referee affiliated with FIFA in his heyday. Mikkelsen officiated in two matches at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy at the age of just 30.

He again officiated in three matches at the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the USA. In addition to international football, Mikkelsen also refereed matches at the UEFA European Football Championship tournaments in 1992 and 1996.

The International Federation of Football History and Statistics named Mikkelsen the Best Referee in the World in 1991 and 1993. He announced his retirement from active refereeing after the 1998 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

In addition to his refereeing career, he also worked in the human resources department of Danish company F-Group for 10 years. And this referee passed away on 30 January 2019 after a long battle with cancer.

5. Sandor Puhl

Sandor Puhl

Retired Hungarian football referee Sándor Puhl is widely regarded as the top referee in football history, but sadly he was heavily criticized in Spain for his officiating in the 1994 World Cup quarter-final between Italy and Spain where Mauro Tasotti elbowed Luis. Enrique’s nose was broken by an impact to the face in the penalty box during injury time.

FIFA also heavily criticized his negligence in not awarding a penalty or card in that match, and subsequently suspended him for eight international matches.

He rose to fame as the referee of the 1994 FIFA World Cup Final between Brazil and Italy. The IFFHS named him the World’s Best Referee of the Year four times in a row from 1994 to 1997.

Besides refereeing, he also served as vice-president of the Hungarian Football Association from 2000 to 2006.

4. Kim Milton Nielsen

Kim Milton Nielsen

Former Danish football referee Kim Milton Nielsen was famous for his distinctive 6 ft 6 in tall looks as he was taller than most international football players. He officiated in 154 international and 53 UEFA Champions League matches during his career.

He first became a FIFA affiliated referee in 1988 at the age of just 28. And he served his duties until his retirement on 16 May 2006 after reaching the UEFA-regulated age limit of 45.

He officiated two matches at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France and the semi-final between Brazil and Turkey at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea-Japan.

Nielsen refereed important matches in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Euro Cup, such as the 1994 UEFA Cup Final, 2004 UEFA Champions League Final and 2005 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. Apart from his refereeing career, he also serves as an IT manager.

3. Howard Webb

Howard Webb

English former football referee Howard Webb recently announced his retirement from active refereeing on 6 August 2014 to serve as technical director of the Board of Professional Sports Match Officials.

He served as a FIFA-listed referee from 2005 to 2014 and also officiated Premier League matches from 2003 until his recent retirement. In 2010, he officiated as the referee of the UEFA Champions League Final and the FIFA World Cup Final, becoming the first referee to do so in one calendar year.

Webb also officiated several FA Cup Finals, FA Community Shield Finals and Football League Cup Finals. he was named best fifa referee of the year in 2010 and also received 2011 New Year honors for his contribution to football.

Before turning to his refereeing career, he was a Sergeant in the South Yorkshire Police.

2. Marcus Merck

marcus merck

German former football referee marcus merck widely regarded best football referee of all time and is the record holder for umpiring in the most number of Bundesliga matches.

He received FIFA’s “Referee of the Year” award three times and the DFB German Referee of the Year a record six times. He debuted as the youngest Bundesliga referee in 1988 at just 25 years old. Marek also officiated football matches at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

He served as a FIFA-listed referee, starting with the 1993 World Cup qualifiers, until his retirement after the match between Bayern München and Hertha BSC Berlin on the last day of the Bundesliga 2008 season.

He is currently the main referee commentator for the Turkish channel Lig TV, covering the Turkish Super League. In addition to his refereeing career, he is also a professional dentist.

1. Pierluigi Collina

Pierluigi Collina

Italian former football referee Pierluigi Collina served as a FIFA-listed referee from 1995 to 2005. He was named FIFA “best referee of the yeara record six times in a row and is widely considered the best referee in international football history.

Collina is a current member of the UEFA Referees Committee and has also served as head of the Football Federation of Ukraine since 5 July 2010. He retook his refereeing course in 1977.

Colina has earned its nickname ‘Kojak’ for its distinctive bald appearance due to alopecia. After umpiring 43 Series A matches, he was inducted into FIFA’s list of referees in 1995.

Among the best matches he officiated were the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final between Brazil and Germany and the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final between Bayern Munich and Manchester United.


He was inaugurated by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics World Referee of the Year Award back in 1987, and Brazilian referee Romualdo Filho was the first referee to be made aware of the honour. Other notable mentions as the best referees of all time are Jose Robert Wright, Victor Kasai, Cunet Cakir and Björn Kuipers.

Best Football Referees of All Time - Infographics
Infographics: Best Football Referees

So this was our choice Top 10 best football referees of all time,

Football officials have a variety of titles for different positions, but they are commonly referred to as referees. This includes referees and linesmen.

Officials are responsible for enforcing the rules and keeping the game in order in football. Professional and most college football games have three officials on the field, a referee and two linemen, who play an important role in the game.

Referees who serve as the main officials in a game can earn anywhere between $6,500 and $10,000. For non-elite referees, the average salary is $1,000 to $3,000 per game. Elite officials earn between $2,000 and $3,000 per match as assistant referees.

Q. How much do college soccer referees make per game?

Depending on team size, referees can earn up to $50 per game. According to MLS, the highest paid referees make $6,354 per game, and referees in Spain make $900 per game. Nevertheless, they make a good amount of money.

Last updated: November 2022

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