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Kuipers right at home for Europa League final

Published: Tuesday 14 May 2013, 23.57CET
UEFA Europa League final referee Björn Kuipers tells UEFA.com about home pride, his team ethic and how a run on a windswept Dutch beach was more enjoyable than it sounds.
by Chris Parrott
from Amsterdam
 
Published: Tuesday 14 May 2013, 23.57CET

Kuipers right at home for Europa League final

UEFA Europa League final referee Björn Kuipers tells UEFA.com about home pride, his team ethic and how a run on a windswept Dutch beach was more enjoyable than it sounds.

When Björn Kuipers blows his whistle to start Wednesday's 2013 UEFA Europa League final he will become the first referee to officiate at a showpiece on home turf in 22 years, since Italy's Tullio Lanese oversaw the 1991 European Champion Clubs' Cup final in Bari. The 40-year-old tells UEFA.com why it is an honour he must share with many, how well he knows the Amsterdam ArenA and how a run on a windswept Dutch beach was more enjoyable than it sounds.

UEFA.com: Congratulations, how does it feel to be refereeing such an important game?

Björn Kuipers: It feels good. I was very happy to get the appointment to do the Europa League final. And it's in my own country so it's great. I was very surprised because I was thinking it was not possible to have a referee from the country where the final is. But this is very special as it's in Holland, but even just doing a final is very special.

I was at the beach when I got the call. I was doing some training on the coast of Holland, and Pierluigi Collina was calling me. I was very proud. I was happy for my team, happy to give them the news that we had the final. I was also thinking about the people who helped me to reach this: my coaches, the people at UEFA, the people at the Dutch FA, my team. It's been hard work, but we got some bonus.

UEFA.com: Could we speak a bit about this stadium. What do you think makes it such a special venue?

Kuipers: I know the stadium very well. I have refereed here many, many times for Ajax, and it's great. Amsterdam is a great city to have this final here. The stadium is great and it's sold out. The facilities are great so we are ready for a very nice evening.

UEFA.com: What does it feel like when you walk out of that tunnel onto this pitch, with the teams behind you and the crowd cheering?

Kuipers: That's always a special moment. When I was a young referee, I never thought about elite refereeing – it was my hobby. So you can see how it goes, how fast you can progress. When I go out, with the teams behind me and the music playing, it's a great feeling, great.

UEFA.com: How do you prepare for such a big game?

Kuipers: We have been preparing for a long time. It's never just about one day. If we get an appointment we clear our schedules. Last Friday we had the debriefing for the Dortmund-Real Madrid match. 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. And I always say it is not all about me. I am the referee and the end responsibility is mine, but I never act alone. I need my team, I need everyone around me. I am very happy with my team – we have performed very well over the past year.

UEFA.com: You were in charge of the 2011 UEFA Super Cup. Is it any different when you're walking out onto the pitch as the referee in a final as opposed to a regular game?

Kuipers: Yes, of course, a final is a final. Every match is important but to handle a final is great. But I'm not officiating any differently to how I do another match: it is still a game between two teams. The referee team is the third team. We are prepared and I hope we will handle the match very well. You will see tomorrow.

Last updated: 09/05/14 5.56CET

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