With hopes of ending 55 years of hurt, emotions are guaranteed to be high for England’s Euro 2020 final against Italy at Wembley.
We takes a look at Bjorn Kuipers, the Dutch referee – and supermarket boss – who will be the man in the middle on Sunday night.
The last time that Italy and England met in a tournament, at the 2014 World Cup, the Dutchman was the man in the middle. But England have had more success in recent times with Kuipers as the man with the whistle.
Who is Bjorn Kuipers?
The man dubbed the world’s richest referee has been put in charge of England’s first European Championship final, Sunday’s showdown with Italy at Wembley.
Said to have made millions running branches of a Dutch supermarket chain that sponsors Formula 1 world championship leader Max Verstappen, the 48-year-old, whose wealth was estimated in 2016 to be £11.5 million, will be the first Dutchman to take charge of a Euros final.
Does he have history with England? Kuipers officiated the last tournament meeting between the two countries at the 2014 World Cup, which Italy won. But he was also the man in the middle for England’s 2018 quarter-final triumph against Sweden and their Under-20 World Cup triumph against Venezuela the previous year.
His appointment will also mean England will have had a referee from the Netherlands in three of their four Euro 2020 knockout games after Danny Makkelie was given the honour for their last-16 win over Germany and Wednesday’s historic semi-final triumph against Denmark. Felix Brych, the German, was in charge in the win over Ukraine.
The latter match saw Makkelie heavily criticised for awarding the penalty that led to England’s extra-time winner, with a petition even launched to get the match replayed.
What other big games has he done?
Kuipers previously refereed two Euro 2020 group stage matches – Denmark-Belgium and Slovakia-Spain – and the quarter-final between Czech Republic and Denmark.
He was also appointed as fourth official for the game between England and Croatia.
As well as officiating at the last two World Cups, Kuipers was a member of the referees’ team at the previous two Euros and has taken charge of seven Uefa finals, including the 2014 Champions League climax between Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid, the 2018 Europa League final between Atlético and Marseille, the 2013 showdown between Chelsea and Benfica, the 2011 Super Cup match between Barcelona and Porto, the 2009 Under-21 European Championship final between England and Germany, and the 2006 European Under-17 Championship final between Czech Republic and Russia.
Kuipers will be joined at Sunday’s final by Dutch assistants Sander van Roekel and Erwin Zeinstra, while Carlos Del Cerro Grande (Spain) will be fourth official.
The video assistant referee (Var) role has been assigned to Bastian Dankert (Germany), who will be accompanied by Pol van Boekel (Netherlands), Christian Gittelmann and Marco Fritz (both Germany). Juan Carlos Yuste Jiménez (Spain) completes the line-up as assistant reserve referee.
Photo Credit: Getty