One man who has steered clear of controversy and emerged in recent years as one of the best and most consistent referees in Spain is Carlos Velasco Carballo, who was voted by the Spanish FA (RFEF) as the top referee in La Liga in the 2010-11 campaign having started the season as the country's fourth best.
The 41-year-old is from the Madrid refereeing collegiate and, as such, is not allowed to officiate matches involving any of the capital clubs, ruling him out of the high-octane Clasico clashes or meetings between Real and Atletico. He is also fairly new to the scene as far as referees are concerned. He made his top-flight bow in 2004 in a league game between Barcelona and Sevilla, and his international and continental debut only came in 2008 when he earned his FIFA badge. The 2010-11 campaign was his first season officiating in the Champions League proper having previously only taken charge of qualifying matches in the competition.
But all that has not deprived him the experience of refereeing high-stakes fixtures across Europe. His highest-profile match to date was the 2010-11 Europa League final between Porto and Sporting Braga in Dublin.
|CARLOS VELASCO CARBALLO | Spain
Referees in Spain have a tendency to blow their whistles for the slightest infringements in a league where an overly physical approach is discouraged. But Velasco Carballo has shown that he can adapt his style when he is assigned a game in Europe.
|VELASCO CARBALLO'S SUPPORTING TEAM
|Assistant Ref 1||Roberto Alonso Fernandez|
|Assistant Ref 2||Juan Carlos Yuste Jimenez|
|Assistant Ref 3||Jesus Calvo Guadamuro (Standby)|
|Additional Assistant||David Fernandez Borbalan|
|Additional Assistant||Carlos Clos Gomez|
so much that there were calls for him to referee the return game, but UEFA regulations prevent match officials from taking charge of both legs of a tie.
One of his biggest games this season saw Napoli emerge as a 3-1 victor over Chelsea in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16. He was also handed the reins for Sporting CP's 1-0 triumph over Manchester City in the Europa League. He has, however, only officiated one international match this term, the 3-3 draw between Ukraine and Germany back in November 2011.
Velasco Carballo, who quit his job as an industrial engineer in 2010 to focus solely on football refereeing, has awarded only six penalties - all in La Liga - in the 29 competitive games he has been involved in this campaign. It is an unusually low tally for a Spanish referee, and he is not one who is easily tricked by players attempting to win spot kicks through simulation.
Euro 2012 will be his first major international tournament after beating out the more experienced and high-profile Undiano Mallenco to become Spain's representative for the championship.
"To be chosen by UEFA to go to Poland and Ukraine is very special, and it's a great responsibility," he said in an interview after finding out that he had made the cut. "I feel very happy and, above all, it's a dream come true for me."
Currently on the shortlist of 52 for the 2014 World Cup, there is plenty of motivation for Velasco Carballo to perform well at Euro 2012 and boost his chances of going to Brazil in two years' time.