Jonas Eriksson (Sweden)

by Rafae Alam

The Swede has been a FIFA international referee since 2002, making his original debut on the professional refereeing stage in 1994. He has officiated at a number of high-profile tournaments, including the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA World Cup.1

Perhaps the most striking fact about Eriksson is that he is actually a multi-millionaire who referees simply because he enjoys doing so. Since top referees generally only earn up to about £70,000 ($102,370) a year, the Swedish official could probably rely on the earnings of his interest alone to pay his salary. Nevertheless, even after selling his 15 per cent stake in a Swedish sports media rights business for approximately £6million ($6,868,200), the former journalist continues to spend much of his time as perhaps the most hated man on the pitch. Of course, Eriksson doesn’t seem to look at it that way, and has gone on the record saying that as a referee he is “having the time of (his) life.”2


Jonas Eriksson | Source: Self-made by Henrik Isaksson. CC BY 3.0

Aside from articles about his multi-millionaire status, Eriksson has had the refereeing pleasure to keep his name out of the headlines, for the most part. Like all professional referees, he has made some impactful errors and controversial decisions. After a 2013 Champions League match between Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund, Eriksson was heavily criticized after he failed to send off Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski for elbowing Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny in the face. While Lewandowski was not looking at Koscielny when the contact was made, it did seem intentional. Nevertheless, Eriksson decided that the incident only warranted a yellow card for the fortunate Dortmund striker.3

The referee was also heavily criticized by Manchester City’s manager, Manuel Pellegrini, after he gave a penalty to Barcelona and sent off Martin Demichelis for fouling Barcelona’s Lionel Messi during the Round of 16 at the Champions League. After the match, Pellegrini went to the press and stated that Eriksson’s call “decided the game.” He further went on to say that the referee was inexperienced and had no control of the match, favoring Barcelona all the way. His comments ultimately earned him a three-match suspension.4

All in all, the relative lack of controversy surrounding Eriksson suggests that his matches at Euro 2016 should go fairly smooth. No specific team, player, or manager seems to have a grudge against him, and for the most part his past record is excellent. He is one of the best referees in the world, and he does the job without any interest for the money. We can’t all be as lucky as Eriksson and choose our job without regard to finances, but perhaps he can still teach us that to do something well, it helps to love it.


  1. Rodriguez, M. (2014, June 14). Swedish millionaire to referee U.S. World Cup opener against Ghana. Retrieved April 30, 2016, from
  2. Enoch, N. (2013, October 23). The secret millionaire: Referee in spotlight over failing to send off Robert Lewandowski is former media magnate who only officiates football games for fun. Retrieved April 30, 2016, from
  3. Ashton, N. (2013, October 22). Arsenal 1 Borussia Dortmund 2: Wenger left Pole-axed as lethal Lewandowski brings high-flying Gunners back down with a bump. Retrieved April 30, 2016, from
  4. Patracuolla, C. (2014, June 16). Jonas Eriksson: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know. Retrieved April 30, 2016, from

How to cite this page: “Jonas Eriksson (Sweden)”, Written by Rafae Alam (2016). European Cup 2016 Guide, Soccer Politics Blog, Duke University, (accessed on (date)).