Sports / Soccer

Hey ref, how about giving me a haircut?

By Nick Reeves in Cuiaba, Brazil (China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-19 07:22

A dancing chemist, a British policeman and doppelganger for a Hollywood star, a Swedish millionaire and a hair salon owner are all playing central roles at the World Cup.

These are just some of the varied off-pitch personas of the 25 referees attempting to keep things rolling smoothly in Brazil.

Chip away at the granite-like veneer of the man in the middle and there's a treasure trove of weird and wonderful aspects of humanity waiting to be unearthed.

Take Noumandiez Doue for example. He made history by becoming the first referee from Cote d'Ivoire to take charge of a World Cup game, Chile's 3-1 win over Australia on the second day of the tournament.

As well as being one of Africa's top officials the 43-year-old is a qualified chemist and also likes dancing.

Any players short of cash taking part in the United States' victory over Ghana on Monday should have tapped up the referee, Jonas Eriksson.

The Swede is known as "the laid-back millionaire" after making a seven-figure fortune selling shares in a media rights business.

A policeman from England will be keeping law and order in Colombia's second Group C match against Cote d'Ivoire on Thursday.

Howard Webb, referee for the 2010 World Cup final in Johannesburg, South Africa, says his colleagues compare him to a Hollywood star.

"But unfortunately not a good looking one," he said. "They say I look like Shrek, which explains why I have a picture of him as a screensaver on my mobile."

House burgled? Car wrecked? Then Cuneyt Cakir is your man. The Turkish referee is an insurance broker in Istanbul, when he's not turning the pages of a Stephen King thriller.

Any Belgians or Algerians of a religious nature at Tuesday's clash in Belo Horizonte will have found a kindred spirit in their referee, Marco Rodriguez.

Players needing a short back and sides need look no further than Bjorn Kuipers. The Dutchman owns a hair salon and two grocery stores back in the Netherlands.

Last, but not least, step forward Felix Brych.

The German lawyer gained notoriety in the Bundesliga last season after awarding an infamous "phantom" goal to Bayer Leverkusen.

But he probably spoke for his colleagues everywhere when he urged fans to always remember, "We are referees, but we are also normal people."

Agence France-Presse

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