Germany's controversial selection - Euro 2012 referee Wolfgang Stark profiles the 12 referees who will be in charge in Poland and Ukraine. Here we take a closer look at German official Wolfgang Stark

German referees have a reputation for being more laissez-faire than most, with relatively few cautions issued, and red cards a great rarity during Bundesliga games. Florian Meyer, for example, is known to talk to players and almost always gives a warning before flashing the yellow card.

Wolfgang Stark is no Meyer, and is not the typical German referee. The Bavaria native is far less hesitant than most of his colleagues in reaching to his pocket, and is greater than 50 per cent more likely than the average Bundesliga official to dismiss a player. Although he is less forgiving than many of his compatriots, Stark remains a lenient referee relative to the average in Europe. And he is one who has been involved in his share of controversy, especially on the big stage.

The highest level at which the 42-year-old has officiated is the Champions League semi-final, which he has twice overseen. In the most recent case, a 2-0 win for Barcelona against Real Madrid, he took heavy criticism for sending off Pepe and subsequently sending Jose Mourinho to the stands. The Madrid press lambasted the referee for taking centre stage, with Marca less than impressed. "Stark and Messi leave Madrid having to make a miracle in the second leg," the daily sports newspaper said. That match came just months after players voted Stark the worst referee in the first half of the Bundesliga season. To his credit, the official responded positively. "I accept this criticism. Ask me, and I will try to correct my mistakes," he said.


Games 39
Yellow Cards 147
Red Cards 11
Date of Birth 20/11/1969
Refereeing style Lets the game flow, but has no tolerance for petulance
Biggest match 2008-09 & 2010-11 Champions League semi-finals

Although Stark has been involved in recent controversy, he has no shortage of experience and his rise to prominence came very quickly. After passing all exams in 1994, he gained his refereeing licence. In 1996 he took charge of his first professional match, in the 2. Bundesliga. A year later, he began work in the German top flight, and by 1999 he was a Fifa-listed referee. Over the course of his career, Stark has overseen well over 200 games in the 1. Bundesliga, and several international youth tournaments.

Assistant Ref 1
Jan-Hendrik Salver
Assistant Ref 2 Mike Pickel
Assistant Ref 3 Mark Borsch (Standby)
Additional Assistant Florian Meyer
Additional Assistant Deniz Aytekin
At the 2007 U20 World Cup, Stark had a nightmare as he let a game between Chile and Argentina get well out of hand. He flashed yellow again and again but never had control of the match, and in the end sent off two players and issued nine bookings. His performance led to angry scenes in the stands, and Stark was escorted to the dressing room by police. The Chilean players later claimed that they were pepper-sprayed by police after the match.

Fifa kept faith in him, however, and after players voted him the best referee in the Bundesliga in 2010, the man from Landshut oversaw matches at the World Cup in South Africa. Stark refereed group stage fixtures between Argentina and Nigeria, as well as Slovenia and England, and earned high praise for his performances. He also whistled the round-of-16 match between Uruguay and South Korea.

Compared to many other referees, Stark seems to enjoy the limelight and appears to welcome controversy. And while he is likely not to card a defender for a potentially bookable offence, he will not hesitate to use his right to discipline a dissenting voice if any players or coaches disagree with his decisions. Attitude is extremely important to Stark.

There are more popular referees in Germany that Uefa could have chosen to officiate at Euro 2012, but among the candidates, Stark is a reasonable choice. Though he has been involved in controversy in the past, he has gone on to display the composure and command required to keep control when it matters. Players must be wary, though, not to offend him: it could easily mean an early trip to the showers.