Cüneyt Çakır (Turkey)

by Rafae Alam

Making his UEFA debut in July 2003 as the fourth official in a Champions League qualifying match, the Turkish referee has gone on to become one of the most famous officials in the game. His impressive resume includes having refereed more than 170 matches, including 12 derbys.1 Perhaps his most impressive appointment was the 2015 UEFA Champions League Final between Juventus and Barcelona in Berlin, where he issued three yellow cards.2


Çakir issues a yellow card During a match between Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea | Source: Originally posted by @cfcunofficial (Chelsea Debs) London on Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0

Interestingly, Çakır, who also works as a professional insurance agent, has a history of sending off English-based players in particularly important matches. Steven Gerrard, John Terry, and Mario Balotelli are all among the players who have seen red at the hands of Çakır. In the case of Gerrard, the referee gave him two yellow cards during a World Cup qualifier against Ukraine in September 2012. Particularly upset by the decision, Gerrard later went on to say that “I don’t think there was a bad tackle in the game, and the referee has given seven yellow cards. It’s disappointing because it’s my first red card in 98 caps.” John Terry, however, really didn’t have much to complain about, as he appeared to knee the back of Barcelona’s Alexis Sánchez in a clear case of violent conduct. Similarly, Balotelli’s sending off seemed justified as well, as the Manchester City player’s high tackle during a match against Dynamo Kiev in 2011 appeared sufficiently excessive.3

His most controversial decision regarding an English-based player came in 2013 in a Champions League match between Real Madrid and Manchester United. During the match, United midfielder Nani was shown a red card after going in high with his left leg on what was basically a fifty-fifty challenge. Çakır decided the challenge warranted a sending off, but many questioned the decision. Ultimately, UEFA stood with the referee and decided that the call, which absolutely infuriated United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson, was fair.4

Çakır has also been noted to be quite particular in ensuring that the correct distance is maintained during a free kick between the defenders and the ball. The match he refereed at Euro 2012 between Italy and Ireland has been cited as a famous example.5

At Euro 2016, we can expect the card-happy official to tolerate little, if any, potentially dangerous play or poor conduct. Considering his prior send-offs, is it safe to assume that Çakır has some sort of vendetta against English-based players? Probably not, but it will be interesting to see if he adds to the reputation in the coming Euro Cup.


  1. C. Çakιr. (n.d.). Retrieved April 30, 2016, from http://us.soccerway.com/referees/cuneyt-cakir/92755/
  2. Çakır to referee UEFA Champions League final. (2015, May 18). Retrieved April 30, 2016, from http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/newsid=2249342.html
  3. Telegraph Sport. (2016, March 6). Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir’s history of sending off England-based players in big matches. Retrieved April 30, 2016, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/manchester-united/9912050/Turkish-referee-Cuneyt-Cakirs-history-of-sending-off-England-based-players-in-big-matches.html
  4. Nakrani, S. (2013, March 06). Nani red card: Uefa backs Champions League referee Cuneyt Cakir. Retrieved April 30, 2016, from http://www.theguardian.com/football/2013/mar/06/uefa-referee-cuneyt-cakir-nani
  5. Football Blog. (2012, June 18). Cüneyt Çakır – Euro 2012 Ref who likes his distance. Retrieved April 30, 2016, from http://www.goalpost.tv/2012/06/18/latest-news/cuneyt-cakir-euro-2012-ref-who-likes-his-distance.htm

How to cite this page: “Cüneyt Çakır (Turkey)”, Written by Rafae Alam (2016). European Cup 2016 Guide, Soccer Politics Blog, Duke University, http://sites.duke.edu/wcwp/tournament-guides/european-cup-2016-guide/euro-2016-referees/cuneyt-cakir-turkey/ (accessed on (date)).