Referee Willie Collum set for first Euro 2016 outing

Scottish whistler Willie Collum will oversee France’s second Euro 2016 game against Albania in Group A while Slovenia’s Damir Skomina and Sergei Karasev of Russia receive their first matches of the tournament.

Willie Collum blows for full-time (Uefa Super Cup - 11th August 2015)
Experience: Collum has been on the Fifa list since 2006 and was elevated to Uefa Elite Category level in June 2012 (Picture from BT Sport)

SCOTTISH referee Willie Collum has received his first appointment as man in the middle at Euro 2016. 

The 37-year-old will take charge of host nation France’s second Group A match against Albania in Marseille on Wednesday, June 15 (KO 20:00 BST, live on BBC One).

Collum was the fourth official for Sunday’s encounter in Group D between Turkey and Croatia in Paris.

But it will be a different pressure at the Stade Velodrome for the Religious Education teacher from Belshill, north Lanarkshire.

Craig Thomson was Scotland’s representative at Euro 2012 but Collum has since overtaken him as the country’s leading official and is highly regarded by Uefa.

He has handled some prestigious friendlies involving top nations, a number of high-profile Champions League games and was selected for last season’s memorable Super Cup clash between Barcelona and Sevilla.

His excellent form on the continent led to his first call-up for a major international tournament but endured a difficult domestic season in the build-up to the European Championships.

Willie Collum referee (Motherwell v Celtic - 9th April 2016)
Proud: Collum described his selection as one of 18 referees for Euro 2016 as ‘the highlight of my refereeing career without a doubt’ (Picture from Sky Sports)

Collum dished out a massive 148 yellow cards, sent off seven players and awarded 18 penalties in 47 matches in all competitions during 2015-16.

He is renowned for being card-happy in Scotland and received criticism from Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson and Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes in particular last term for some controversial decisions.

Ex-Hearts and Hibs midfielder Michael Stewart also claimed Collum was ‘not fit to officiate in Scotland’s top-flight’ – a division he referees in on a regular basis.

Despite being much-maligned back home, the Glasgow-born whistler has a wealth of big-game experience to draw upon including several Old Firm and Edinburgh derbies, European matches and major finals.

Among Collum’s other highlights are refereeing the 2013 and 2015 Scottish Cup Finals, the 2012 League Cup Final, 2008 U19 European Championship Final and three Scottish play-off ties.

He will be ably assisted by Irish linesmen Damien MacGraith and Scotland’s Frank Connor, while fellow countrymen John Beaton and Bobby Madden will be additional assistant referees.

England’s Michael Oliver shall be the fourth official, with compatriot Mike Mullarkey on standby as the reserve official.

After a 2-1 win over Romania in the tournament opener, Didier Deschamps’ side could seal their passage into the knockout phase by beating Albania, who lost 1-0 to Switzerland in their first match.


Damir Skomina referee (Spain v Slovakia - 5th September 2015)
Previous meeting: One of Skomina’s four Euro 2016 qualifiers was Slovakia’s 2-0 defeat by Spain last September (Picture from Sky Sports)

Slovenia’s Damir Skomina has been confirmed as the referee for the Group B clash between Russia and Slovakia in Lille on Wednesday.

The 39-year-old will be in control of the other match in England’s group at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy (KO 14:00 BST, live on ITV).

It’s the estate agent’s first involvement in this summer’s European Championships – the second major tournament of his refereeing career.

Skomina oversaw three matches at Euro 2012 – Holland’s 1-0 defeat by Denmark and England’s 3-2 win over Sweden in the group stages before Germany’s 4-2 win over Greece in the quarter-finals.

Although he wasn’t selected for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, he made the cut for Euro 2016 after impressing on the European stage in the last two seasons.

The Koper-born whistler, who was a fourth official at Euro 2008 and for the 2013 Champions League Final at Wembley, has been on the Uefa Elite Category list since 2009-10 and refereed Chelsea’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Benfica in 2011.

Among his other highlights were handling the 2007 U21 European Championship Final, officiating at the 2008 Olympic Games and taking charge of Chelsea’s 4-1 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the 2012 Super Cup.

Last season, Skomina handled Real Madrid’s 1-0 win over Manchester City in the Champions League semi-final second leg and Villarreal’s 1-0 victory over Liverpool in the Europa League semi-final first leg.

He was also described as ‘weak and naive’ by then Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho for denying his side a penalty in their goalless draw with Dynamo Kiev last October.

Skomina – who can also speak Italian and English – regularly oversees European matches involving British teams, with his confident but no-nonsense approaching earning him many admirers.

He will be assisted by fellow countrymen Jure Prapotnik and Robert Vukan, and additional assistants Matej Jug and Slavko Vinčić.

Sweden’s Jonas Eriksson is the fourth official, with his compatriot Mathias Klasenius the reserve assistant.


Sergei Karasev ready to blow whistle (Finland v NI - 11th Oct 2015)
Last season: Karasev refereed four Champions League games including Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat at Barcelona in their quarter-final second leg (Picture from Sky Sports)

Russian referee Sergei Karasev will appear at his first major international tournament for the first time to oversee Romania’s Group A clash with Switzerland.

The 37-year-old will take charge at the Parc des Princes in Paris on Wednesday, June 15 (KO 17:00 BST, live on BBC One).

Fellow countrymen Nikolai Golubev and Tikhon Kalugin are the assistant referees and Sergey Lapochkin and Sergei Ivanov will be the additional assistants referees.

Aleksei Kulbakov, from Belarus, is the fourth official while compatriot Vitali Maliutsin completes the officiating team as reserve assistant.

Karasev has become an established name with regular Champions League and Europa League appointments since becoming a permanent fixture on the Fifa list in 2010.

The Moscow-born lawyer, who reached Uefa Elite Category level in 2012, is known for his excellent fitness levels and often lenient approach, as he boasts one of the lowest card averages among the 18 Euro 2016 referees.

Karasev will be known to Scottish football fans for his handling of Celtic’s 6-1 Champions League defeat to Barcelona in 2013 and Scotland’s 1-1 draw with Macedonia during qualification for the 2014 World Cup.

One of his three Euro 2016 qualifiers was Northern Ireland’s 1-1 draw with Finland last October.

Karasev, whose birthday was on June 12, will hope to impress in his 50th international match as a referee in the hope he can prolong his stay in France ahead of his second tournament of the summer at the Olympics.

He will be one of 15 referees involved in the men’s football tournament in Rio in August.

His only previous competition experience came last summer when overseeing three games at the U21 European Championships, including the semi-final between Sweden and Denmark.

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