World Cup Final referee to handle England Euro 2016 opener

Italy’s Nicola Rizzoli will take charge of England’s opening match of Euro 2016 against Russia in Marseille on Saturday while Svein Oddvar Moen of Norway is the referee for Wales against Slovakia.

Nicola Rizzoli referee (ROI v Scotland - 13th June 2015)
Honour: Rizzoli became the third Italian to officiate a World Cup Final and booked four players during Germany’s 1-0 win over Argentina after extra time (Picture from Sky Sports)

ITALIAN referee Nicola Rizzoli will be the man in the middle for England’s first Euro 2016 match in Marseille this weekend.

The 44-year-old will take charge of the Three Lions’ Group B clash with Russia at the Stade Velodrome on Saturday, June 11 (KO 20:00 BST).

Rizzoli is remembered for handling the 2014 World Cup Final between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana – his fourth match of the tournament in Brazil.

He also oversaw England’s first match of the previous European Championships in 2012 – a 1-1 draw against France, the last occasion he encountered Roy Hodgson’s side.

Rizzoli – who will be involved at his third major international tournament of his career – shall be assisted for Saturday’s game by compatriots Elenito Di Liberatore and Mauro Tonolini.

Daniele Orsato and Antonio Damato, also of Italy, are the additional assistant referees while Greece’s Anastasios Sidiropoulos is the fourth official and Damianos Efthymiadis is the reserve assistant.

Rizzoli will reportedly have been given a full briefing on England from two Uefa referee analysts who have been scouting their recent friendly games.

He was in charge of Russia’s 1-1 draw with Sweden during the qualification campaign.

The Bologna architect started his international career in 2007 before going on to referee the 2010 Europa League final and the 2013 Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund at Wembley.

Last season, Rizzoli came under fire after failing to send off PSV’s Hector Moreno for a strong challenge on Manchester United’s Luke Shaw, who suffered a double leg break in the Champions League group match.

In January, he sought legal action against a journalist who criticised his appointment for a top-of-the-table clash between Juventus and Napoli.

Rizzoli handled six Champions League games last season, including the quarter-final second leg between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.

A Fifa referee for almost a decade, he has been voted Serie A’s referee of the year by footballers every year since 2011.

Rizzoli brandished 10 red cards, 131 yellow cards and awarded eight penalties in 26 matches last season in all competitions.

The Three Lions will take on Wales on Thursday, June 16, before facing Slovakia four days later.


MEANWHILE…

Svein Oddvar Moen was the man in charge
Growing influence: Moen has been a regular in the Champions League since becoming a Uefa Elite Category referee in 2011 (Picture from Sky Sports)

Norway’s Svein Oddvar Moen will oversee Wales’ Group B opener against Slovakia in Bordeaux on Saturday.

The 37-year-old ambulance driver will be in charge when Chris Coleman’s team play their first game at a major international tournament since 1957 at the Stade de Bordeaux (KO 18:00 BST).

He will be ably assisted by linesmen Kim Thomas Haglund and Frank Andas, with Ken Henry Johnsen and Svein-Erik Edvartsen acting as additional assistants.

Alexey Kulbakov (Belarus) will be the fourth official, while Vitali Maliutsin is the reserve assistant.

Moen – who handled five Champions League games last season – was the fourth official for last season’s Europa League final between Sevilla and Liverpool in Basel.

The Haugesund-based whistler officiated at the 2012 London Olympics and was on the list of 52 prospective referees for the 2014 World Cup but this will be the first major tournament of his 20-year officiating career.

Moen came under fire for his performance in Scotland’s defeat by Germany during the qualification campaign and accidentally hit a player in the head during a coin toss in a Norwegian league game in 2015.

The Welsh face England in the crunch encounter of the group in Lens on Thursday before closing against Russia in Toulouse on June 20.


ELSEWHERE…

Carlos Velasco Carballo referee (Hungary v Norway - 15th November 2015)
Experienced: Carballo has been on the Fifa list since 2008 and has been favoured as Spain’s representative for the last three major tournaments (Picture from Sky Sports)

Experienced Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo will take charge of Switzerland against Albania in the other Group A match.

He will be assisted by Roberto Alonso Fernández and Juan Carlos Yuste Jiménez, with Jesús Gil Manzano and Carlos del Cerro Grande as additional assistants.

Pol van Boekel, of the Netherlands, will be the fourth official and compatriot Erwin Zeinstra the reserve assistant.

This represents the start of Carballo’s final venture as a match official before hanging up the whistle.

He was the man in the middle for the opening match of Euro 2012, in which he issued a red card and awarded a penalty in an eventful 1-1 draw between co-hosts Poland and Greece.

It’s his third successive international tournament but he has 12 years experience of officiating in Spain’s top-flight La Liga.

Carballo handled the 2011 Europa League Final in Dublin and has overseen a number of key Champions League games in the last eight years.

The industrial engineer, from Madrid, refereed four European ties involving English sides during the knockout stages last season – including Liverpool’s Europa League games against Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund.

Carballo has a reputation for being card-happy, which was illustrated last season when he dished out 74 yellows and six red cards during a 12-game spell.

But he was criticised for not clamping down on ill-discipline during Brazil’s quarter-final win over Colombia in the 2014 World Cup when Neymar broke his vertebrae.

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