Paris - The Englishman appointed to referee the European
Championship final on Sunday has enjoyed a rollercoaster career that saw him
appointed as the youngest elite referee in England and then survive a series of
setbacks before rising to the top.
Mark Clattenburg's season comes to an end at the final between
France and Portugal at the Stade de France on the edge of Paris with his 50th
game since last August, having already refereed England's FA Cup final and the
Champion's League final.
Clattenburg, 41, is a controversial figure reportedly unpopular
among England's conservative refereeing elite, but supported by ex-referee and
UEFA refereeing chief Pierluigi Collina.
The former head of England's elite referees' organization, Keith
Hackett, said Clattenburg had beaten the system, and had been rightly rewarded
with Sunday's final. "He deserves it thoroughly," Hackett told the
"You are the Ref" website, "not least for having the mental
fortitude to keep going in the face of what appears to have been a lack of
faith among his bosses."
Hackett said England's refereeing bosses had pushed referee Martin
Atkinson as their candidate to represent England at the European Championship,
but Collina had pressed Clattenburg's cause. In the end, England was allowed to
be the only country that sent two teams of match officials to the tournament.
Clattenburg has officiated at three games in France, none of which
has proved controversial. He was praised for his handling of incidents in the
game between Croatia and the Czech Republic when he had to suspend play after
flares were thrown onto the pitch.
Quietly spoken and with a strong accent from his home in north-eastern
England, Clattenburg is known for his fitness and calm authority on the pitch,
although most referees under Collina have shown unprecedented fitness levels in
His relations with his bosses in England are often under the
spotlight and are still reported to be strained.
In 2014 he was dropped from refereeing for a week when he broke
protocol to get to a concert by singer Ed Sheeran in time.
Referees are supposed to travel to games together, meeting at a
hotel, to avoid security problems. But Clattenburg parked his car at West
Bromwich Albion's stadium so that he could leave quickly and drive to Newcastle
to see Sheeran.
In August 2000, Clattenburg made history as the youngest post-war
referee in the Football League, at 25, and was on FIFA's elite list of
officials at the age of 30.
Like most referees, he has been insulted many times by teams who
feel a sense of injustice at his decisions, but his worst period came in 2009,
when he was sacked as an elite referee after being accused of threatening a
business associate in an email.
Clattenburg denied all the accusations and his appeal was
successful. He was nonetheless banned for eight months by England's
Professional Game Match Officials Limited and reminded of his
"responsibilities and contractual obligations as a select group
Since then, he has flourished.
In the last season, over 50 games, he has shown 183 yellow cards
and seven red cards, including eight yellow cards in the Champions League final
between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.
He was accused in that match of going easy on Real defender Pepe,
who many agreed should have been shown a second yellow card. Pepe, if he is
fit, will be playing for Portugal in Sunday's final. Both teams have a number
of English Premier League players who Clattenburg will know well.