Pierluigi Collina

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Pierluigi Collina
Pierluigi Collina as a head of referees for the Football Federation of Ukraine in 2010
Full name Pierluigi Collina
Born (1960-02-13) 13 February 1960 (age 59)
Bologna, Italy
Other occupation UEFA Head of Referees
Years League Role
1988–1991 Serie C2/Serie C1 Referee
1991–2005 Serie B/Serie A Referee
Years League Role
1995–2005 FIFA listed Referee

Pierluigi Collina (Italian pronunciation: [pjerluˈidʒi kolˈlina]; born 13 February 1960) is an Italian former football referee. He is widely considered the best referee of his generation, having been named FIFA's "Best Referee of the Year" six consecutive times.[1] Collina is still involved in football as non-paid consultant to the Italian Football Referees Association (AIA), and is a member of the UEFA Referees Committee. He is also the head of referees for the Football Federation of Ukraine since 2010.[2]


Collina was born in Bologna and attended the University of Bologna, graduating with a degree in economics in 1984. During his teenage years, he played as a central defender for a local team, but was persuaded in 1977 to take a referee's course, where it was discovered that he had a particular aptitude for the job. Within three years he was officiating at the highest level of regional matches, while also completing his compulsory military service. In 1988, he progressed more rapidly than normal to the national third division, Serie C1 and Serie C2. After three seasons, he was promoted to officiating Serie B and Serie A matches.

About this time, Collina contracted a severe form of alopecia, resulting in the permanent loss of all his facial hair, giving him his distinctive bald appearance and earning the nickname Kojak.

In 1995, after he had officiated at 43 Serie A matches, he was placed on FIFA's Referees List. He was allocated five matches at the 1996 Olympic Games, including the final between Nigeria and Argentina. He refereed the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final between Bayern Munich and Manchester United; he cited this as his most memorable game because of the cheers at the end, which he described as a "lions' roar". In this game he allowed three minutes of added time, as Bayern Munich led 1–0 with 90 minutes on the clock through an early Mario Basler goal, only for two stoppage time goals to give the trophy to United in the Nou Camp.[3]

In 2002, Collina reached the pinnacle of his career when he was chosen for the World Cup final between Brazil and Germany. Prior to the game, Oliver Kahn told the Irish Times: "Collina is a world-class referee, there's no doubt about that, but he doesn't bring luck, does he?" Kahn was referring to two previous high-profile matches that Collina had refereed which involved Kahn: the aforementioned 1999 UEFA Champions League Final, a 2–1 defeat for Bayern; and Germany's 5–1 defeat against England in 2001.[4] Kahn's luck did not change in the final and his team lost 2–0.

He refereed the 2004 UEFA Cup Final between Valencia and Marseille. Euro 2004 was his last major international tournament, as he reached the mandatory retirement age of 45 for FIFA referees early in 2005. His last international match was PortugalSlovakia, for a 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifier at Estádio da Luz in Lisbon. The FIGC raised its mandatory retirement age to 46 in order to accommodate Collina for a further season. However, a dispute emerged between the federation and Collina early in August 2005, following Collina's decision to sign a major sponsorship deal with Opel (also advertising for Vauxhall Motors in the UK – both are owned by General Motors). As Opel was also a sponsor of Serie A club A.C. Milan, the deal was seen as a major conflict of interest and Collina was disbarred from refereeing top-flight matches in Italy. In response, Collina handed in his resignation, effectively ending his career. The Italian Referees Association then attempted to reject his resignation, but he persisted with his retirement. He did, however, referee the Soccer Aid matches for charity in May 2006 and September 2008. During the latter of these games, Collina was involved in an awkward fall and was stretchered off after 21 minutes of play. He also refereed the first half of the 2010 Soccer Aid match on June 6.

His final competitive game, a Champions League qualifier between Everton and Villarreal in August 2005, was shrouded in controversy as he disallowed a late goal by Everton that would have sent the game into extra time. With Liverpool winning the previous Champions League final, no UEFA or Football Association rule gave provision for their entry into the following season's tournament as they had not qualified through their domestic league. Faced with the champions not competing UEFA changed the rules allowing Liverpool qualification. With England now competing with a possible, and irregular, five teams in the group stages this was known[citation needed] to cause consternation in the halls of UEFA headquarters. In the qualifying rounds Everton would go on to draw Villarreal, the toughest[citation needed] possible opponents. In the second leg Everton chased and scored a late equaliser in Spain, and was seen[by whom?] as an error by Collina to disallow the goal ruling that Duncan Ferguson had committed a foul in the build-up to the goal, yet there had been no infringement. Subsequently, UEFA had the maximum four clubs represented by any one country from England in the group stages, and despite being the start of the 2005/06 season Collina announced his retirement soon after the game.

Perhaps one of the greatest distinctions of Collina's career was earning the hatred of Luciano Moggi, the Juventus executive and chief instigator of the 2006 Italian football scandal. Collina was one of the referees that Moggi attempted to have punished for decisions that Collina made against Juventus. In an intercepted phone call, Moggi claimed that Collina and his colleague Roberto Rosetti were too "objective" and should be "punished" for it.[5] As a result, he and Rosetti were two of the few referees remaining unscathed from the scandal.

He was chosen as the cover figure for the popular video game Pro Evolution Soccer 3 (and subsequently Pro Evolution Soccer 4, alongside Francesco Totti and Thierry Henry). This was unusual, as football games had come to almost exclusively feature only players and managers on their covers; in addition, he appeared as an "unlockable" referee in the rival game FIFA 2005, as well as not actually appearing in Pro Evolution Soccer 3 as a referee despite heralding the front cover of the game. His easily recognisable face (to followers of football) also led to his appearance in a 2006 Vauxhall Vectra commercial, which aired during the 2006 World Cup in the UK. He also appeared in adverts for Mastercard and Adidas during the 2006 World Cup.

Although Collina is closely identified with football, his favourite sports club plays basketball. He is a lifelong supporter of Fortitudo Bologna, one of Europe's leading basketball clubs. On January 25, 2010 Collina participated in a special match for supporting victims of the earthquake in Haiti opposing Friends of Zidane and Ronaldo and the Benfica team in Lisbon.

In 2010, Collina officiated the first half of a Soccer Aid charity football match between celebrity and professional players representing England and the 'Rest of the World'. Players included David Seaman, Alan Shearer, Teddy Sheringham, Jamie Redknapp, Martin Keown and Nicky Butt for England, managed and coached by Harry Redknapp and Bryan Robson. Players for the "Rest of the World" included Jens Lehmann, Henrik Larsson, Zinedine Zidane, Ryan Giggs, Luís Figo and Sami Hyypiä, managed and coached by Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush & Eric Harrison. English Premier League and Football League referee Mark Clattenburg also refereed the match.

Since 2010 Collina is head of referees for the Football Federation of Ukraine.[2]

Personal life

Pierluigi Collina met his future wife Gianna in 1988 in Versilia. After living together almost from their meeting, they moved to the coastal town of Viareggio. Since the wedding, the couple have had two daughters.

In 2003, Collina published his autobiography, My Rules of the Game (Le Mie Regole del Gioco). After his retirement in August 2005, he concentrated on his own business as a financial advisor.

Since he was the main referee of the Second Round match between Japan and Turkey at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, he became famous in Japan and appeared in a TV commercial for frozen takoyaki products. He is also very popular in Turkey, as no Turkish team, national or club, lost a game with him in charge.[6]

In 2006, Collina appeared in TV commercial for MB Pivo, Serbian beer brand.

He also appeared in a commercial of a Turkish GSM operator, Aria, due to his popularity in Turkey.



  1. IFFHS: "All-Time World Referee Ranking". Iffhs.de. Retrieved on 2015-07-16.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ukraine trying to revive Crimean champion football club, USA Today (19 June 2015)
  3. Referee profile mentioning the "lion's roar", 1999: the Euro 2004 section of the 7M.CN website.
  4. World Cup 2002 News: Ireland.com (The Irish Times) (July 1, 2002). Retrieved on May 29, 2007.
  5. Roberto Rosetti. Worldreferee.com. Retrieved on 2011-12-04.
  6. Referee Collina, the referee of the last match for Japan at the World Cup, appears on Japanese Commercial!! (ワールドカップ日本最終戦の主審 あのコリーナ審判が日本のCMに登場!!?) ADWIN Communication & Marketing website (Japanese) retrieved 2009-12-19
  7. "IFFHS – Various Annual Awards".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. The referee's a...doctor?. BBC News. 14 July 2004
  9. "Hall of fame, 10 new entry: con Vialli e Mancini anche Facchetti e Ronaldo" (in Italian). La Gazzetta dello Sport. 27 October 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2015. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Preceded by
FIFA World Cup Final 1998
Morocco Said Belqola
FIFA World Cup Final Referees
Final 2002
Italy Pierluigi Collina
Succeeded by
FIFA World Cup Final 2006
Argentina Horacio Elizondo
Preceded by
UEFA Champions League Final 1998
Germany Hellmut Krug
UEFA Champions League Referees
Final 1999
Italy Pierluigi Collina
Succeeded by
UEFA Champions League Final 2000
Italy Stefano Braschi
Preceded by
UEFA Cup Final 2003
Slovakia Ľuboš Micheľ
UEFA Cup Final Referees
Final 2004
Italy Pierluigi Collina
Succeeded by
UEFA Cup Final 2005
England Graham Poll