10 Referees with Surprisingly High Salaries
The eye-watering sums made by professional soccer stars is well-known, but how much do the highest-paid referees around the world get? Read on to find out.
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Jesús Gil Manzano of Spain
Spain’s La Liga is not only enjoyed by a substantial domestic audience but is hugely popular internationally thanks to matches like El Clasico so it’s no surprise Spanish referees can make quite a bit. Jesús Gil Manzano is one such example, with total earnings coming to a tasty €430,000. This is a combination of a €250,000 base salary, with an extra €6,000 per match. Nor is he the only big earner in Spain, with most refs making over €360,000 in a season. And they get to watch great football up close too.
Turkey’s Cüneyt Çakır
Cüneyt Çakır is the highest-paid soccer referee from Turkey, making $10,000 per match as a member of the UEFA elite panel. He’s highly regarded both domestically and internationally. Using stats from 2010 to 2020, the International Federation of Football History and Statistics picked him out as the second-best referee in the world, which certainly goes some way to explaining his high wages and responsibility for refereeing matches including Champions League games.
Felix Brych of Germany
Another UEFA Elite referee is Felix Brych, who was born in Munich. As such Brych makes around $10,000 per match he officiates and has handled matches at multiple World Cups. Domestically, Brych has spent more than a decade and a half as a Bundesliga ref, while on the European stage he’s also taken charge of Champions League events including the 2017 UEFA Champions League Final, which is a strong sign of the faith authorities have in his abilities.
England’s Mark Clattenburg on $650,000
It’s a huge sum of money, but if reports are to be believed then Mark Clattenburg, formerly of the English Premier League, is now making $650,000 a year. This is from the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, with whom he has a contract worth an uncertain amount but believed to be in the region of $650,000. Clattenburg is therefore top of the list by a country mile, and it’s worth noting he is seen as one of the best referees that England has ever produced. Prior to his Saudi deal, Clattenburg spent over a decade refereeing in the EPL and in 2016 oversaw both the Champions League and Euro Finals. He’s also made some controversial comments about female referees (who have yet to break into the highest-paid officials list).
France’s Clément Turpin
Clément Turpin is one of the finest French football referees, and like other UEFA Elites on this list can command $10,000 per match. He’s been FIFA-listed since 2010, and on the Elite group since 2012. In 2016, Turpin was named the best French referee by the French Football Federation. Notable matches he’s refereed include World Cup qualifiers in 2014 and 2018, the Men’s Olympic Games football tournament in Brazil, and the 2021 UEFA Europa League Final.
Italy’s Davide Massa
Born in Imperia, Davide Massa is one of many highly-paid Italian officials responsible for trying to keep order in the impassioned league of Serie A. As such, he gets an annual salary of £150,000, which is not bad at all, on top of £3,000 per match. A FIFA ref since 2014, Massa is also a UEFA elite category referee and has been supervising matches in Serie A for over a decade.
Scotland’s William Collum
William Collum, also known as Willie Collum, is the highest-paid man from Scotland on our list, raking in $8,000 per match thanks to his status as a UEFA Elite official. Since 2005 he’s been a Scottish Premier League official, and then a Scottish Professional Football League ref when the league system in Scotland underwent a merger. On the international stage, he’s officiated Champions League matches and, domestically, multiple Scottish Cups.
Dutchman Danny Makkelie
Another well-remunerated referee is Danny Makkelie of the Netherlands. Despite being a top-flight referee earning $8,000 per match he also continues to work as a police inspector in Rotterdam. During his career, he’s handled Europa League matches, including the 2020 final, and matches in the Euros. At home, Makkelie has been overseeing matches in the Eredivisie (home of renowned teams like Ajax and PSV Eindhoven) since 2009.
Mike Dean of the EPL
Mike Dean has been refereeing in the EPL since 2000 and has made a pretty penny in that time as he gets paid £200,000 a year for his troubles. He’s overseen finals in the FA Cup, Football League Cup, and FA Trophy, in addition to refereeing Europa League and international friendly matches, plus a large number of English domestic games.
The MLS and Silviu Petrescu
Silviu Petrescu is one of several names that could have been picked as a top earner among referees in the MLS, but this highlights the difference in pay between the USA and European refs. Silviu Petrescu was one among several who made $55,000 officiating in Major League Soccer, which certainly isn’t a bad salary, but when you compare it to Clattenburg’s pay packet does go to show that soccer is still the most minor of the major leagues.
While they don’t rival the players for income, the top paid refs (especially in Europe) can make a pretty penny.