UEFA has elected to go with Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers for the upcoming Champions League semifinal between Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig. Kuipers is among the most well respected and experienced referees in Europe today. He has been called to officiate key contests such as the 2014 UEFA Champions League Final and numerous international tournament fixtures.
However, not everyone has a pleasant history with Kuipers. PSG forward Neymar may be among those who are likely not very fond of his work as a referee. The two have clashed before, most notably in two key contests back in 2018.
In a 2018 FIFA World Cup Group Stage contest against Costa Rica, Neymar had a difficult time getting going due to the physical play from the Concacaf side. Neymar was fouled four times and involved in 23 ground duels. Brazil did win thanks to some late-game heroics from the likes of Neymar and Phillipe Coutinho.
But the Brazilian forward did let his frustrations be well known to referee Kuipers during the contest. The two had a lengthy argument at one point during the game with cameras catching Kuipers telling Neymar to stop the talking.
Neymar earned a yellow card from Kuipers during the game for arguing.
Later that year, Kuipers officiated a Champions League group stage contest between PSG and Napoli. Neymar was fouled six times in the fixture and evidently was not pleased with how Kuipers reffed the game. At one point, Neymar voiced his displeasure to Kuipers even with both Thiago Silva and Kylian Mbappe attempting to halt the back-and-forth argument. Kuipers cautioned Neymar with a yellow card in stoppage time for arguing.
Neymar later explained (via ESPN) why he was involved in a heated discussion with Kuipers.
“The referee told me something he should not have,” Neymar said. “It was disrespectful. I do not want to repeat what he said to me. However, somebody high up should do something. He cannot be as disrespectful as he was with me. On the pitch, we are asked to show respect towards the referees. We should get the same in return.”
It will be interesting to see if Neymar once again clashes with Kuipers during the upcoming fixture against RB Leipzig.
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