Heinz Fahnler

European and Austrian football is mourning the loss of former referee Heinz Fahnler, who has died aged 66 while on duty as a UEFA delegate for Wednesday's Real Madrid CF-FC BATE Borisov fixture.

Heinz Fahnler died suddenly on Wednesday
Heinz Fahnler died suddenly on Wednesday ©UEFA.com

The former Austrian referee and UEFA official Heinz Fahnler has passed away at the age of 66. He died suddenly while on duty as a UEFA delegate for Wednesday's UEFA Champions League Group H match between Real Madrid CF and FC BATE Borisov in the Spanish capital.

Delegate since 1990
Fahnler served as a UEFA delegate from September 1990, and this evening's match in Madrid would have been his 188th assignment in the role. He was also an experienced stadium inspector, and a member of the UEFA security officers' panel from 2000 to 2004. Fahnler had previously been a much-respected international referee in the 1970s and early 1980s, officiating at major world and European competitions.

Austrian 'great'
He refereed at the 1984 UEFA European Championship in France, taking charge of the group-stage game between Portugal and Romania in Nantes. A journalist by profession, Fahnler was latterly chief editor of Austria's Vienna-based Wiener Zeitung before his recent retirement. His work as a senior official in Austrian football after his retirement as a referee centred most recently on improving stadium and safety structures. "Heinz Fahnler's leadership style was essentially based on partnership and consensus," said the Austria FA in a statement praising his determination and wisdom. "Austrian football has lost one of its greats."

Minute's silence
A minute's silence was observed in his memory before the match in Madrid, as Norwegian Rolf Haugen assumed the delegate's duties.

Platini's tribute
"It is always sad to lose anyone from the football family," said UEFA President Michel Platini," but for someone who had served the game for so many years and in so many different fields it is especially tragic. Our thoughts go out to both his family and close friends at this difficult time."