English football’s proud record of producing some of the world’s best referees was clearly evident at a recent get-together.
The annual meeting of England's FIFA referees and assistant referees included the officials who have taken charge in a World Cup Final and a Champions League Final (Howard Webb), an Olympic Games Final (Mark Clattenburg) and a Futsal World Cup Final (Marc Birkett) - all in the space of just two years.
With the chairman of The FA’s Referees’ Committee, David Elleray, who took charge of the 1995 FIFA World Club Cup Final and the 1998 UEFA Super Cup Final, and Portugal’s Pedro Proenca, 2012 UEFA Champions League Final and UEFA Euro 2012 Final referee, also in attendance, the group gathered at the Radisson Edwardian Hotel in Middlesex have collectively officiated every major football final in the world.
FA Chairman David Bernstein joined the meeting and made presentations to Birkett, Clattenburg and his assistants Simon Beck and Stephen Child.
Elleray said: “England currently has an enviable and unique refereeing record.
“In the last two years, English officials have refereed the World Cup and Champions League Finals, the Futsal World Cup Final and Olympic Final.
“These achievements cannot be matched by any other country in such a short space of time. Beyond these exceptional appointments, all our male and female officials are performing extremely well in the major FIFA and UEFA competitions.
“England is lucky to have such a fine group of referees and assistants who are outstanding ambassadors for The FA and English football on and off the field.”
Clattenburg described how the meeting was a great opportunity to reflect on the achievements of England’s male and female match officials, with 2012 being a particularly successful year, including Natalie Walker being appointed reserve assistant referee for the quarter final of the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in Japan.
He said: “It’s now part of our yearly calendar that we meet up as international referees and assistant referees. It’s great to see also the female officials who are making great strides in the international arena.”
FIFA badges were presented to new FIFA officials Anthony Taylor (referee), Simon Bennett (assistant referee) and Daren England (assistant referee).
Taylor said: “Obviously becoming a FIFA referee is a very proud moment for me and my family and is the culmination of lots of hard work. The meeting highlighted the expectations placed upon us as international match officials and provided the opportunity to learn from my more experienced colleagues.”