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An Evening with Peter Mikkelsen, former FIFA Soccer Referee

Posted by Jason Sholl on July 21, 2010

Peter Mikkelsen polls attendees with a show of hands at the SoccerOne Peter Mikkelsen Referee Event at the Veterans Memorial Park in Culver City, CA on July 19, 2010. (PROREFEREE/Jason Sholl)

CULVER CITY, CA - Over 125 soccer referees attended a special presentation by FIFA dignitary Peter Mikkelsen on July 19, 2010 in Culver City, CA. Sponsored by SoccerOne ( with a generous meeting space, refreshments, and a raffle for referee supplies, the event came on the heels of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Mikkelsen shared insights from his spectacular career as a FIFA Referee and his latest experiences on the FIFA Referee Committee.

Peter Mikkelsen lives in Copenhagen, Denmark and began officiating soccer as a hobby in 1975 at age 15. He entered the ranks of the Danish Premier League when he was 23 years old and became Denmark’s youngest FIFA Referee in 1985 at age 25. In 1990 at age 30, he became the youngest referee selected to officiate at the World Cup in Italy. This was followed by the 1992 EURO Championship in Sweden, 1994 USA World Cup, and the 1996 EURO Championship in England. He retired from officiating international soccer in 1998 and served as a FIFA Referee Instructor from 1998 to 2006. Since 2007, he continues to serve FIFA as a member of the Referee Committee.

Throughout his presentation, Mikkelsen highlighted his delights and misfortunes in his career. He highlighted a moment in the Italy 1990 FIFA World Cup in the semifinal match between Italy and Argentina. Peter was the assistant referee along with Michal Listkiewicz of Poland and referee Michel Vautrot of France. Fifteen minutes into extra time, he witnessed Argentinean midfielder Ricardo Giusti elbow Roberto Baggio. He signaled the foul and communicated to Vautrot to give a red card to send off Giusti. Argentina continued the match with 10 men and overcame Italy to earn a spot in the championship.


Peter Mikkelsen gestures to attendees at the SoccerOne Peter Mikkelsen Referee Event at the Veterans Memorial Park in Culver City, CA on July 19, 2010. (PROREFEREE/Jason Sholl)In Europe, Mikkelsen is famous for the 1996 EURO match between Romania and Bulgaria where a goal for Romania was not awarded after the ball clearly crossed the goal line. It is the exact same situation that England forward Frank Lampard faced at this year’s FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Needless to say, Mikkelsen became the expert on goal line technology in the years since his match.

He shared insight on the technology Adidas has pitched to FIFA over the years. A chip is implanted into the game ball and signals the referee’s watch when the ball completely crosses the goal line for a goal. The referee still has to blow the whistle and make the call for a goal to be allowed. The first few shots into the goal signaled the referee’s watch that a goal was scored. When other shots missed or hit the side netting, the device incorrectly signaled a goal had been scored. After several tests by Adidas, FIFA abandoned a technology solution while hundreds of other companies continue to plead to demonstrate their products. He is optimistic that there may be a product in the future that gains FIFA approval.


Mikkelsen supports the idea of additional assistant referees to help with fouls in the penalty area and observe if a goal has been scored. There still could be trouble if the additional referee is screened from play or out of position. The Europa League test program with additional assistant referees will continue into 2010-2011 along with the upcoming UEFA Champions League season.


Mikkelsen continues his third year serving the FIFA Referee Committee and was fresh from the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. In great detail, he explained the process at FIFA for the preparation, selection and assignment of referees at the World Cup.

Peter-Mikkelsen-3.jpgThe Referee Committee prepared their referee selection after the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. They selected 50 trios consisting of a referee and two assistant referees to work together over the next three years. FIFA developed an electronic training platform to track and monitor the progress of these officials and the various tests they had to successfully complete. The program also included psychological, mental, and energy training components. If any one of the members of the trio failed the requirements, the entire trio would be eliminated from World Cup consideration.

One of the new requirements is English proficiency in order to communicate during the match. FIFA also wanted to see referees complete the twelve-minute fitness test in 12 laps with the minimum passing score of 10 laps. Physical tests were performed by each confederation to allow the best performance to be recorded. In addition to the physical tests, FIFA monitored the performance of these referee teams within their Confederation at the Olympics and at FIFA Youth World Cups. In the fall of 2009, FIFA began to reduce the number of trios based on results from the training program. The final selection of 30 trios took place in February 2010. One trio was dropped just before the World Cup, resulting in four teams from the AFC, three from the CAF, six from CONMEBOL, four from CONCACAF, two from the OFC and ten from UEFA.


Officials were housed at a resort outside Pretoria, South Africa for the entire World Cup. Each day consisted of physical and technical training, mental preparation, energy management, massages, spas, rest and recovery. The referees were required to see every game at the local Pretoria stadium or on live television. All the referees attended group debriefings using DVD and self-evaluations.

When Mikkelsen attended the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy, officials were all paid the same salary of $2,000 for their work in the entire tournament. Everyone served equal status regardless if you officiated five games or none. In the 2010 FIFA World Cup, officials were still paid the same regardless of their assignments or length of stay in South Africa. This year’s 30-day salary for a FIFA Referee or Assistant Referee was $50,000.


The FIFA Referee Committee tracked all the referee decisions in the tournament and was pleased with the progress since the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.

Attendees applaud and thank Peter Mikkelsen for his presentation at the SoccerOne Peter Mikkelsen Referee Event at the Veterans Memorial Park in Culver City, CA on July 19, 2010. (PROREFEREE/Jason Sholl)This year’s tournament had 142 goals correctly awarded and 3 goals incorrectly allowed. Thirteen goals were correctly disallowed for offside – a 100% accuracy rating. Two goals were incorrectly disallowed. The overall correct percentage of referee decisions was 96.95% and 3.05% incorrect, an extremely small margin of error when compared to the number of follies by players.

Out of 658 shots on goal, 5 resulted in goal line decisions made by assistant referees. Four were correct, and the one incorrect decision occurred in the Germany/England match when Frank Lampard’s shot crossed the goal line, but was scooped out by German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. As a result, FIFA sent home Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda and his team.

There were 60 penalty area incidents in this World Cup. Fifteen penalty kicks were awarded correctly by the referees – another 100% accuracy rating. Forty-five incidents in the penalty area did not result in the referees awarding a penalty kick. Forty of these decisions were correct, but five were incorrect and should have been awarded.

Despite the excessive media attention on yellow and red cards, there was a reduction in game misconduct from the previous World Cup. At the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, there was an average of 4.8 yellow cards and 0.44 red cards per match. This year’s averages were 3.7 yellow cards and 0.26 red cards per match.


At the conclusion of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final, Mikkelsen flew from South Africa to Los Angeles, CA to join his family on vacation. He is married with a teenage son and works for the Human Relations department at F-Group, a leading retail electronics chain in Denmark. On occasion, he picks up his whistle to volunteer as a referee at his son’s soccer games.

The FIFA Referee Committee will begin the process over the next three to six months to identify and invite FIFA Referee teams to begin training for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Recent headlines about additional assistant referees in UEFA Europa League and Champions League raise speculation that there may be bigger referee teams or additional game assignments if the program is approved for the World Cup.

Peter Mikkelsen will likely continue his Referee Committee service for international soccer and the advancement of high-level officiating. He plans to share future video training components and FIFA Instruction to help raise the education and experience level of referees worldwide.

Attendees ask Peter Mikkelsen some questions during a break at the SoccerOne Peter Mikkelsen Referee Event at the Veterans Memorial Park in Culver City, CA on July 19, 2010. (PROREFEREE/Jason Sholl)