Top 10 Most Famous Referees Of All Time

In today’s world, most of the games in football will attract the ire of fans for refereeing decisions on the field. Even the 2022 FIFA World Cup saw multiple controversial moments that reignited the debate on the quality of refereeing in the tournament. Conducting an entire match with 22 players on the field without any significant controversy, and that too regularly is an art that only a few have mastered. 

Some of the referees, like the players they officiate on the field, have entered legendary status. These officials were respected and, in some cases, were feared by the players. This respect came from years of brilliant officiating at a time when technologies such as Video Assistant Referees (V.A.R.) were not available for the man conducting the game. 

So, we bring you the top 10 famous referees of all time. 

Oscar Ruiz 

Oscar Ruiz Acosta is one of the finest referees to ever come out of South America. The Colombian officiated in three different World Cups and several important matches throughout his career. His international career started in 1995 when he officiated a game between Paraguay and Venezuela. 

For the next 16, he was a FIFA-affiliated referee. Ruiz officiated in 2002, 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups. He retired in 2011 but served in the CONMEBOL referee assistance program. Although his reputation was marred after three of his former colleagues accused him of asking for sexual favours for promotion.

Pedro Proenca 

You’re a brilliant referee if you officiate a UEFA Champions League final and a European Championship final within a space of 43 days. Pedro Proenca was one of the finest referees from Portugal. He started his career in his native Portugal, where he was made a FIFA-affiliated referee after commendable performances in 2003.

Six years later, he was promoted to the elite category of UEFA ratings for referees. Proenca announced his retirement from officiating in 2015.

Sandor Puhl

Sandor Puhl’s career was one that saw incredible highs and equal lows. The Hungarian was one of the best referees of all time and has officiated top matches such as the final of the 1994 FIFA World Cup between Italy and Brazil and the 1997 UEFA…


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