Cuneyt Cakir is the Turkish soccer referee overseeing the highly anticipated World Cup match of Mexico vs. Brazil. Cakir, 37, is known for being an inflexible enforcer of the rules, and for that reason, has been on the giving end of a few controversial calls since his international debut in 2006.
Here’s what you need to know out Cakir, his career and his controversies:
1. He Is Know to Be Strict, Giving Away Around 4 Yellow Cards per Game
Cakir is known for having an almost fanatical devotion to the rules of the game and never letting a penalty slide. According to Turkish-Football.com, Cakir has around 4.1 yellow cards per game, .21 red cards per game, and .27 penalties per game. These stats are, however, a bit lower than earlier in his career when he was known to give at least 5 yellow cards per match.
2. He Got Death Threats for a Controversial Red Card Against Manchester United
Cakir biggest claim to fame is a controversial red card he gave Manchester United winger Nani during a Round of 16 Champion League match against Real Madrid in March 2013. The dismissal of one of Man U’s best players arguably led to Real Madrid closing the lead and tying the game.
The outcry on both sides of the red card debate were defining as Manchester United fans even sent Cakir death threats on Twitter. Above you can see his first public discussion of the red card after it happened.
3. He’s the First Turkish Referee in the World Cup in 40 Years
A 2012 Goal.com profile reported that the Istanbul native works in the insurance business when he’s not refereeing international soccer games. He became an official referee in 2001, and began his career as an international ref in 2006.
4. He is Ranked as the Fifth Best Referee in the World
The International Federation of Football History and Statistics put Cakir on the 2013 list of the world’s best referees. Cakir is ranked as number 5 on the list, just behind German referee Felix Brych. Also on the list is notable World Cup referee Nicola Rizzoli.
5. He Will Take Charge of Tuesday’s Brazil vs Mexico Match
The hard-nosed Cakir will preside over the hotly anticipated World Cup match between Brazil and Mexico on Tuesday, June 17. The game begins at 3 p.m. Eastern time, and spectators in the United States can watch it on ESPN.