Internationally renowned referee Nicola Rizzoli officiated Serie A matches between 2002 and 2017 and obtained his FIFA license in 2007. In 2013, he took charge at the Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia, and in 2014 he was the judge of the World Championship final game between Germany and Argentina. Thus he became the third Italian who was entrusted with the World Cup final. In 2014 and 2015, he was named the best referee in the world by IFFHS.
Rizzoli ended his refereeing career in 2017 but stayed on the field as head of the Serie A refereeing department. He is also responsible for the UEFA referee training program. On November 18, 2021, Nicola Rizzoli signed a contract with the Ukrainian Association of Football, reports UA-Football. He became the head of the training of Ukrainian referees.
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It was possible to reach an agreement with Rizzoli with the assistance of Luciano Luci, another Italian head of the referees at UAF. Luci, in turn, replaced another legendary Italian umpire Pierreluigi Collina, who served at the federation from 2010 to 2017.
Inviting Italians to work with Ukrainian referees was the result of constant conflicts between the two local grandees Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kyiv. Ukrainian referees were regularly accused of being biased and having low qualifications. As a result, they hardly work at the highest international level.
An exception to the rule was Ekaterina Monzul, a woman umpire who even worked at the final of the Women’s World Championship and recently judged the football matches of men’s teams as part of the selection for the World Cup.
At the same time, Luci managed to rejuvenate the umpire corps, thus, Rizzoli was invited to ensure the progress of new referees. His responsibilities will include training Ukrainian referees to work with the VAR system, which often remains a stumbling block in the Ukrainian Premier League.
According to Luci, several major national federations approached Rizzoli, but he has chosen Ukraine. The head of the umpire committee is convinced that the arrival of the 50-year-old Italian is “a serious investment in the training of Ukrainian referees, who are getting more and more appointments for international matches.”