Bjorn Kuipers is set to become the fourth Dutchman to referee the Champions League final after UEFA confirmed the 41-year-old will take control of Real Madrid's clash against Atletico Madrid in Lisbon's showcase on May 24.
Kuipers is the first Dutch representative in 13 years to officiate the key fixture and follows in the footsteps of Leo Horn (1957, 1962), Charles Corver (1978) and Dick Jol (2001), per UEFA. He will be assisted by countrymen Sander van Roekel and Erwin Zeinstra, while Turkish fourth official Cuneyt Cakır joins two extra assistant referees from Netherlands in the shape of Pol van Boekel and Richard Liesveld.
The upcoming final will mark Kuipers' 69th match in UEFA competitions and his fifth in this campaign's Champions League.
As noted by Soccerway, Kuipers has been more than happy to dish out punishments this season. He produced three bookings and a red card during PAOK's qualifying match with Schalke, his first involvement with this year's tournament.
This was followed by four yellows and a sending off for Jerome Boateng during Bayern Munich's trip to Manchester City in October. The least amount of cards he has issued in this year's competition is the two he showed during Arsenal's November win at Dortmund, which was followed by seven yellows in Manchester United's round of 16 second-leg tie with Olympiacos.
Kuipers has deployed a total of 16 yellows and two reds throughout this year's schedule. He has shown an average of four cautions in each match and has issued a sending off in 50 percent of his assignments so far.
WorldReferee.com notes Kuipers has brandished an equal split of cards in each half. The Dutchman has awarded just one penalty thus far—allowing Robin van Persie to net against Olympiacos—but isn't afraid of making a big decision if the situation arises.
Kuipers took charge of last year's Europa League final between Chelsea and Benfica. He was also selected for Euro 2012 and refereed the UEFA Super Cup final in 2011, making rapid progress since receiving his FIFA badge in 2006, per UEFA's report.
Speaking ahead of last year's aforementioned Europa League conclusion, Kuipers provided some inside detail as to how he prepares for each contest. He takes time to analyse his performance, the output of his assistants and even studies teams he will share the pitch with, per Chris Parrott of UEFA:
We brought the team together and analysed everything in our matches: what we did well, what we did not and what we can improve. We do it every match.
We prepare in everything: fitness, we analyse the teams and we analyse our previous matches. It's not a one-hour job, it takes a long time to prepare for a match like this.
Interestingly, Dutch magazine Volkskrant named Kuipers as one of the nation's most important figures of last year, noted by fellow referee Jan ter Harmsel:
Kuipers is sure to have a busy night in Portugal. Rivalry between the Madrid sides has produced 22 cards in four encounters across La Liga and the Copa del Rey this season, the most being eight in September's league tie, per WhoScored.
The Champions League final referee can set the tone for what type of night is to ensue. Should Kuipers go to his book early in the game for a rash tackle or piece of indiscipline, it's unlikely both teams will finish with 11 players on the pitch.
Should he take a more lenient approach, both sets of players can expect to do battle without constant consequence. Either way, the first one-city Champions League final is sure to be crammed with drama and memorable moments, as Kuipers will hope to exit the match without creating any headlines of his own.
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