Video LoadingVideo UnavailableClick to playTap to playThe video will auto-play soon8CancelPlay now
Get the FREE Mirror Football newsletter by email with the day’s key headlines and transfer news
Invalid EmailSomething went wrong, please try again later.Sign upWe use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time.More infoThank you for subscribingWe have more newslettersShow meSee ourprivacy notice
Bjorn Kuipers will be the man in the middle as England look to end 55 years of hurt by beating Italy to win Euro 2020.
England continued their memorable run by beating Denmark after extra-time on Wednesday night, while the Azzurri overcame Spain on penalties.
The semi-final results mean that arguably, the two best teams at the tournament will go head-to-head in the Wembley final.
Referee controversy has become synonymous with England heartbreak over the years, after controversial goals have been allowed to stand, goals disallowed, debated red cards and of course, legitimate goals being ruled to have not crossed the line.
Those have all fueled an obsession over who will be in charge for the Three Lions’ biggest clashes and none have been bigger than Sunday.
‘Richest ref in football’
Bjorn Kuipers will be Sunday's referee during England vs Italy
(Image: Getty Images)
The 48-year-old isn’t your standard referee and was reported to be worth around £11.5million back in 2016.
Kuipers co-founded a supermarket chain back in the Netherlands after earning a degree in business administration.
Jumbo Kuipers even sponsor Formula One star Max Verstappen, while Bjorn himself also owns a hair studio in his hometown.
Lionel Messi rant
Wembley has already played host to some memorable celebrations throughout the tournament.
But Gareth Southgate’s side will need to ensure they don’t fall foul of Kuipers’ strict notion of respect, as Lionel Messi did back in 2019.
Kuipers suggested Lionel Messi's celebrations showed a lack of respect
(Image: Getty Images)
During Barcelona ’s Champions League semi-final with Liverpool, Messi scored the Blaugrana’s third goal during their 3-0 victory at the Camp Nou.
Following his perfectly placed free-kick, the Argentinian proceeded to celebrate wildly, only for Kuipers to take offence.
In a video released by UEFA, the referee can be heard telling the striker: "Messi! Why? Come on! Show them some respect! Go! Every time, you do it. Come on! Why do you do it?"
He was quick to follow orders, moving back into his half ready for Liverpool to restart.
Gary Neville fires sarcastic dig at Jacob Rees-Mogg after 'embarrassing' England rap
Kyle Walker issues battle cry to England supporters ahead of Euro 2020 final
Italian concerns and Verratti bust-up
Kuipers is a regular in the Champion s League so the majority of those in action this weekend will know him well.
That isn’t to say he is universally popular.
The Italian press took aim at him following Juventus ’ shock exit at the hands of FC Porto.
While Cristiano Ronaldo took some of the blame for allowing a free-kick to go past him, Tuttosport said that Kuipers “does not have a level in the Champions League”, accused him of making “serious mistakes” that cost “millions of euros and the credibility of the competition”.
Marco Verratti accused the referee of yelling obscenities at the PSG players
He has also enraged Italian midfielder Marco Verratti after he accused Kuipers of saying “f*** you” to him during Paris Saint-Germain’s exit to Manchester City.
PSG lost their discipline towards the end of their Etihad defeat and Leonardo Paredes and Verratti both claimed the ref had hurled obscenities at them.
“He said 'f*** you' to me… I talk to referees a lot but I never say that or I get a 10-game ban,” Verratti explained post-match.
UEFA didn’t investigate the alleged incident.
You don’t get to referee a major final without being an expert of the discipline and Kuipers has certainly officiated his fair share of big matches.
A Champions League final ref in 2014, he has also been in charge of two Europa League finals.
Kuipers was also the man in the middle when Phil Foden and Co lifted the U17 World Cup after beating Spain in the final.
Coincidentally, he was also the referee when England met Italy during the 2014 World Cup, where the Azzurri came out on top, thanks to goals from Claudio Marchisio and Mario Balotelli.
Buy the official Euro 2020 final match programme here.