Scot Craig Thomson took up refereeing at the age of just 16 and has steadily worked his way up through the ranks to be involved at the very peak of the profession, having been selected to officiate at a major international competition for the first time.
Thomson, who will turn 40 during the course of the tournament, is by no means lacking in experience. His first international match came over eight years ago when Norway beat Northern Ireland 4-1 in Belfast, though the encounter he is perhaps best remembered for Italy’s short-lived Euro 2012 qualifying match in Serbia, which was abandoned because of severe unrest in the terraces.
Later in the same qualifying competition, he would oversee France’s crucial 1-1 draw with Bosnia in Paris; a result that came via a controversially-awarded penalty in a match les Bleus needed to take something from to ensure their place in Poland and Ukraine.
|CRAIG THOMSON | Scotland
He has become known for his strict officiating, finding himself at the center of a storm when he sent off Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos when Real Madrid traveled to Ajax in the Champions League in 2010, and receiving the ire of Jose Mourinho in doing so. Both players were subsequently adjudged to have been fishing for a second yellow card, meaning that they would be suspended for a meaningless group game, rather than the first match of the knockout phases.
“The sending off came after an easy game where the referee has shown some strange yellows,” the Portuguese hit out after the match.
“They are cards that I don’t like. It was an easy game to control. Ajax made a lot of fouls and for the first from Ramos he was shown a yellow card.”
|THOMSON'S SUPPORTING TEAM
|Assistant Ref 1||Alasdair Ross
|Assistant Ref 2||Derek Rose
|Assistant Ref 3||Graham Chambers (Standby)|
|Additional Assistant||Willie Collum
|Additional Assistant||Euan Norris
Paisley-born Thomson has taken charge of numerous Old Firm clashes between Rangers and Celtic – notoriously fierce affairs – and has not shied away from controversy, sending two players off as the Gers defeated St Mirren in the 2010 League Cup final.
A year later, he would then overrule the award of a penalty to Rangers in the final of the same competition, drawing criticism from then manager Walter Smith, who suggested that the official’s actions had been “dangerous”.
He was also criticized following the 2011-12 Scottish Cup final between Hearts and Hibs after awarding a penalty to the Jam Tarts for a challenge that appeared to occur outside the area.
Nevertheless, the referee remains a respected figure and enhanced his reputation after donating his 1,000 pounds fee from that final to the Hospice that cared for his late mother.
Despite courting controversy with the likes of Mourinho, Thomson is a referee highly thought of at Uefa, and as such he has been granted a number of high-profile encounters over the course of the 2011-12 season.
The sport enthusiast, who particularly enjoys cycling, golf and squash, took charge of no less than five Champions League encounters over the campaign, including the round of 16 first-leg clash between Bayer Leverkusen and Barcelona, and also officiated Atletico Madrid’s Europa League semi-final first-leg victory over Valencia in April.
With a wealth of big-game experience now under his belt, the Scot travels to Eastern Europe in the summer well equipped to deal with the rigors of top-level competition, and the criticism that inevitably comes with it.