Turkey's no-nonsense debutant - Euro 2012 referee Cuneyt Cakir

Goal.com profiles the 12 referees who will be in charge in Poland and Ukraine. Here we take a closer look at Turkish official Cuneyt Cakir

In a period where the national team has been floundering on the international stage and the Super Lig has had the spectre of the recent match-fixing scandal hanging over its head, Cuneyt Cakir has emerged as one of the brighter sparks in the world of Turkish football.

An Istanbul native, the 35-year-old is in the insurance business by day, but on the pitch he has carried a ruthless, authoritarian presence ever since his refereeing debut in 2001, freely dishing out a number of cards, and cracking down on annoyances like time-wasting.

Cakir's no-nonsense approach has ensured that he is regularly called upon to take charge of the notorious derbies between the traditional Turkish big guns Besiktas, Fenerbahce and Galatasaray, which have been made all the more fierce this season by the fall-out from the match-fixing controversies.


Games 33
Yellow Cards 157
Red Cards 9
Date of Birth 23/11/1976
Refereeing style Disciplinarian
Biggest match 2011-12 Champions League semi-final Barcelona v Chelsea

He has responded well, however, and has been rewarded with regular fixtures at European level throughout the past campaign, overseeing such stellar names as both Manchester clubs, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and culminating in the second leg of Champions League semi-final between Barcelona and Chelsea.

All eyes were inevitably going to be on Cakir at Camp Nou, given the controversy surrounding the clash between the Catalans and AC Milan in the previous round, and two incidents stood out during the match. While it was Cakir's assistants who spotted John Terry's sly kick on Alexis Sanchez, he must receive praise for being unperturbed by the occasion and rightly sending the Chelsea skipper off. However, just after half-time, he was conned by a Cesc Fabregas tumble, but Lionel Messi missed the resulting spot-kick, sparing Cakir from further scrutiny.

That was a rare blemish on the record of a man whose zero-tolerance approach has been met with widespread acclaim in his homeland, though.

Assistant Ref 1  Bahattin Duran
Assistant Ref 2 Tarik Ongun
Assistant Ref 3 Mustafa Eyisoy (Standby)
Additional Assistant Huseyin Gocek
Additional Assistant Bulent Yildirim
At just 35 years of age, Cakir is the youngest referee who will be entrusted with matches in Poland and Ukraine, and although this is his first senior competition, he is not without experience at international tournaments, having travelled to Colombia for the Under-20 World Cup last summer.

And the Turk already has experience of officiating one of international football's fiercest rivalries, after taking charge of a November friendly between Germany and Netherlands, where he performed admirably, despite emotions running high all around him.

The gulf between the importance of a friendly and a competitive match - with all the world watching - is plain for all to see, but Cakir is looking to respond to the task for his country, and for the sake of his own career.

"We know that the Turkish people and sports community are praying for us," he recently said at Uefa's training camp for the tournament. "We will do our best, but this isn't where it ends - we're only at the start of the road, and there's a lot ahead for the Turkish referees.

"Here, we can learn a lot from Europe's leading referees, and learning something from each other. This is what we do here. The final preparations are underway, and I think we'll see a great tournament."

Having been earmarked as a potential official for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, he'll certainly be eager to give the best possible account of himself in June, and maybe even in July.