The Top 5 Football Referees of All Time

By Peter C

As we give accolades to football players for demonstrating exceptional abilities in different aspects of the sport, referees also deserve to be celebrated. These people are responsible for upholding the game’s integrity and ensuring fair play among players. This article closely examines five of the best football referees in the sport’s history. 

1. Pierluigi Collina

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Pierluigi Collina truly deserves the top spot as far as football officiating is concerned. The Italian, who had wanted to become a footballer, later became a top football referee, having received the Best Referee of the Year award six consecutive times between the years 1998 to 2003. This is proof of his impeccable judgment and unwavering integrity.  

2. Martin Atkinson

Martin Atkinson started as an assistant referee in 1995 and reached the pinnacle of his career as a top referee in the Premier League. After retiring from active refereeing in 2022, the 52-year-old currently works as an English referee coach, allowing him to share his expertise.

3. Cüneyt Çakır

Cüneyt Çakır will forever be remembered for his professionalism, especially when he officiated the 2015 UEFA Champions League Final between Barcelona and Juventus. He made FIFA’s top referee rankings and FIFA listing from 2006 until his retirement in 2010, an impressive record that showcases his excellence on the field.

4. Mark Geiger

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Mark Geiger once worked as a math teacher before transitioning into football officiating. The American worked as a referee in MLS for seasons and even presided over various World Cup matches before retiring at 44. Recently, he was announced as the new general manager of the Professional Referee Organization.

5. Oscar Ruiz

Oscar Ruiz is a former Columbia football referee and a respected figure in the football world. His legacy extends to three FIFA World Cups, where he officiated in 2002, 2006, and 2010. Today, he works as a referee instructor.