Slovakian referee Lubos Michel will take charge of the Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea. Michel, you may recall, was the referee who awarded a highly-controversial goal (I’m still unsure!) to Liverpool against Chelsea in the semi-finals of the competition in 2005. The Daily Mail also mentions that Michel drew criticism from Martin O’Neill after he took charge of the 2003 UEFA Cup Final between Porto and Celtic. Michel was accused of poor officiating after sending off Celtic defender Bobo Balde for a second bookable offence during the Scots’ 3-2 defeat in Seville.
UEFA have confirmed that Michel, who celebrated his 40th birthday last Friday, will be assisted by countrymen Roman Slysko (34) and Martin Balko (36) with another Slovakian, Vladimir Hrinak, acting as the fourth official.
Will this turn out to be a bad omen for Chelsea? I doubt it as Michel is recognized as one of the top referees in the world and has officiated at the highest levels, including both Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup. Language barriers should not be a problem as Michel reportedly speaks English, Russian, German and Polish in addition to his native Slovakian.
Yahoo! Eurosport reports that Michel has been known to take a hard line on diving, so Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba will have to be on their toes – as opposed to their backsides – in the Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday night.