The Insanely Boring Lives of World Cup Referees

In an apparent attempt to humanize the World Cup referees, FIFA has posted cutesy little bios of each of them on the World Cup 2014 website.

It’s kind of a form that you fill out with your basic stats: how tall you wish you were are, your language, how many years you’ve been doing this, etc.

The bios are accompanied by the scariest photos known to man. (See examples, above: Cuneyt Cakir, Nicola Rizzoli and Pedro Proenca – in their undead form).

Even gorgeous guys like Rizzoli and Proenca look like complete dorks. Good job to whatever photographer made Rizzoli – the ultimate Mr. Smooth – look like a dork. That takes real effort.

Anyhow, the bios each have a couple of “human interest” fields: hobbies and fondest memory. Most referees left these blank, sort of defeating the purpose and not exactly offsetting those terrifying pictures.

The ones who listed their hobbies did nothing to help. Even my beloved Rizzoli is a big fat fail here. (“Reading”? Really?) And Webb’s “family” answer may be understandable for a father of three, yet still mind-numbingly dull.

And then, they were saved. Saved from drowning in a sea of stupendous boredom, and by a couple of Italians no less: Rizzoli’s much more interesting-seeming ARs.

They chose:

Puzzles! Gospel singing! 

To the other referees (with their generic movies, sports and music “hobbies”):

That, gentlemen, is how it’s done.

Now, it’s possible that these guys aren’t really this delightfully weird. It could be that these two chuckleheads just made those answers up to see if anyone was paying attention. Which would make them even cooler, really.

Honorable mention? Marvin Torrentera Rivera of Mexico who chose:


Yeah, I’m with you on that, Marvin.


  • Hahahaha. Nice story. Some referees are actual singers. I interviewed Adrien Jaccottet for my blog and he was the singer of an a capella band. Unfortunately couldn’t find audio on YouTube.

    Here’s the interview

    Liked by 1 person

  • I don’t think so. Did you see “Kill the refereee”? Howard Webb was afraid of people stalking him after a mistake and let some extra officers patrol a few times a day in his street. It’s not just papparazzi going after the referees.


    • Sadly, stalkers are a part of the job, particularly for the better known referees in the big leagues and tournaments. (I’d be surprised if Bjorn Kuipers wasn’t extra vigilant right about now.) I’ve actually had a couple of issues just on this site with emails or comments that crossed a line.


  • Kuipers told Dutch media that his family was never threatened. If people did, he’d immediately stop refereeing. He’s still working in his supermarkets, so it’s easy to visit him (although he hasn’t been there a lot due to international appointments lately).

    I posted a blog about Kevin Blom who awarded a penalty kick to Czech Republic against Scotland. Did not see the match, but comments kept coming because I had a story on him on my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  • They may have also specified mundane hobbies to not give away anything directly about their whereabouts for stalkers etc.


    • Or they actually don’t have lives. 🙂

      Seriously though, these guys sacrifice a lot to referee at this level. In his interview, Nicola Rizzoli talked about the fact that in addition to all the work he’s had to do to get to the World Cup, oh yeah, he’s also an architect. He has to balance the pressures of refereeing with his practice. I would say most referees are in his boat; Howard Webb’s getting five years off the police force to referee probably isn’t typical. Doesn’t leave much free time…


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