Final whistle for Collina


Italy's Pierluigi Collina will referee Sunday's World Cup final between Brazil and Germany. His linesmen will be Leif Lindberg of Sweden and Philip Sharp of England.

The appointment of the 42-year-old financial adviser from Viareggio is no surprise. Over the last five years he has firmly established himself as the best in the world, a fact recognised by FIFA who voted him its top referee for the fourth time in January.

Earlier in the tournament he was the natural choice for what was the most eagerly anticipated - and potentially most volatile - of the first round matches between England and Argentina.

Typically, Collina was perfectly positioned to award England the penalty that David Beckham converted to clinch the game.

Equally typically, the Argentines did not bother disputing the spot-kick with the Italian who brooks no threat to his authority on the football pitch.

With his distinctive bald head, intense grey-blue eyes and commanding presence, Collina simply stares out players until they accept his decision. It also helps that he is mostly correct.

Collina is known throughout football circles for his meticulous preparation for matches, which he believes is vital to do his job effectively. He is a firm believer in full-time referees but says the players, not the men in black, should command all the limelight.

"I consider myself as part of the best group of referees in the world," he said during the tournament. "This is the most important thing for me. I think each of us is working very hard to be well prepared for the high standards that football now requires."