German referee Wolfgang Stark will take charge of Wednesday's UEFA Europa League final between Club Atlético de Madrid and Athletic Club at the National Arena in Bucharest, Romania (20.45 CET).
Stark, a bank employee from Landshut in Bavaria, will be assisted by his fellow countrymen Jan-Hendrik Salver and Mike Pickel. The fourth official will be Stéphane Lannoy of France, while the two additional assistant referees, Florian Meyer and Deniz Aytekin, are both from Germany. German reserve assistant referee Mark Borsch completes the lineup of the refereeing team
The 42-year-old Stark has been a German Football Association (DFB) referee since 1994 and took charge of 53 matches in the 2. Bundesliga before stepping up to the top flight in 1997. He has been an international referee since 1999, and has officiated in a total of 89 UEFA matches in his refereeing career.
In 1999, he was selected to travel to the FIFA U-17 World Cup in New Zealand and the UEFA European Under-18 Championship in Sweden, also spending a valuable month refereeing in Japan's J-League in September 2001. He took charge of three matches at the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa, as well as the 2011 German Cup final.
Stark, who is following in a long line of distinguished German referees, has handled 18 UEFA Europa League matches to date – two of which have come this season, the round of 32 second leg between Manchester City FC and FC Porto (4-0) and the quarter-final first leg between Sporting Clube de Portugal and FC Metalist Kharkiv (2-1). He has also taken charge of 52 UEFA Champions League matches since 2001.
With such big-match experience, Stark – who is one of the 12 referees chosen to officiate at this summer's UEFA EURO 2012 finals in Poland and Ukraine – will definitely take the occasion on Wednesday night in his stride, amid the big-crowd atmosphere. "I think every referee at this level can focus on the match, and on the match situations," he told UEFA.com at the UEFA winter referees' course in Antalya earlier this year. "Of course, the atmosphere is part of it, but I think you can turn that off as a referee, so you can concentrate on your main task, which is refereeing the match."
Stark also explained the importance of a referee making a good start to a match for confidence and wellbeing. "I think the first minutes are certainly important, not only for the players but also for the referees, to get into the match in the right way," he explained. "I think the first few decisions for the referee set the tone for the match, to get a certain security. And I think if the first decisions are taken well, then you get into the match easily as a referee."
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