Markus Merk was titled the WORLD-BEST REFERREE – a top SoccerDoc!
Markus Merk (born March 15, 1962 in Kaiserslautern) is a former top-level German football referee. He is a six-time winner of the German Referee of the Year Award and the record holder in games refereed in the Bundesliga. In 2005, Merk was awarded the German Bundesverdienstkreuz (Federal Cross of Merit) in recognition of his service to football and his charity work in India. He ended his career by refereeing the match between Bayern München and Hertha BSC Berlin on the last day of the Bundesliga season 2007/08 on May 17, 2008.
Merk was referee in the 1992 Olympics (2 call-ups), fourth official in the 1993 World Cup qualifier between the Netherlands and England (During this match Merk repeatedly restrained the furious England manager Graham Taylor, when a penalty and red card decision had gone against England. Taylor felt Ronald Koeman should have been sent off and England have a penalty for a professional foul on David Platt. Neither happened and Koeman went on to score against England. Taylor was furious at the referee, though years later, in an interview with the Observer, he expressed gratitude to Merk for not sending him to the stands when he could have ), the UEFA Euro 2000 (3), the 2002 FIFA World Cup (2) and the UEFA Euro 2004 (3). In that tournament, he also whistled the final, becoming the first German referee since Rudi Glöckner of East Germany in 1970, to helm a World Cup or European Championship Finals. His assistants were Jan-Hendrik Salver and Christian Schräer. Merk also refereed the 1997 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final, and the 2003 UEFA Champions League Final. He was the referee in the semi final of the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup between Cameroon and Colombia, a game remembered for the death of Marc-Vivien Foé.
In the 2006 World Cup, he whistled three matches with mediocre results. After the match Australia-Brazil, he was verbally blasted by Harry Kewell for allegedly lop-sided, pro-Brazil refereeing , and after Ghana’s victory over the United States, US Coach Bruce Arena and several players heavily criticized Merk’s controversial call where he awarded a vital penalty kick to Ghana. The United States vs. Ghana game was the last game in the 2006 World Cup for Merk, as he was not chosen to referee any of the games in the knockout stages. Merk was highly critical of the whole FIFA refereeing process after that, stating in the German sports TV show das aktuelle Sportstudio, it “robbed me two weeks of my life” being forced to stay in the referee camp without a call-up, and adding a mere two was a bitterly meagre payoff regarding the fact he (among others) had to visit countless seminars and were sent on small junior tournaments all over the world to merely assist, comparing it to as if Ronaldinho would have to agree to sit on the bench for the Brazilian U 20 in order to qualify for the World Cup.
Merk is also a long-time proponent of instant video replay to judge critical scenes. On March 1, 2008, Werder Bremen striker Markus Rosenberg scored a goal from clear offside position; Merk initially gave the goal, but immediately after that realised it was illegal, but it was too late to retract his error. He called it “the most bitter moment of my career” and called for introduction of instant replay.
- DFB German Referee of the Year: 1995, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2006
- Bundesverdienstkreuz (major order of merit of the Federal Republic of Germany) 2005
The religious Merk is active helping slums in India, providing basic dental care for the poor since 1991. He helps the Indienhilfe Kaiserslautern, which erects schools and housing for the homeless, as well as offering basic medical care.
an interesting end of a match with Merk as referree:
- Markus Merk’s homepage (German)
- FIFA Profile
- DFB: Markus Merk
- Fanclub 1. FCK: Markus Merk’s India charity