Englishman George Reader oversaw the crucial final match of the 1950 World Cup between hosts Brazil and Uruguay in Rio de Janeiro at the age of 53. The best-known Final referee of all time, Gottfried Dienst (photo), was almost 47 when he awarded the famous ’Wembley goal’ to England in the 1966 decider. There were no age limits for referees back then, and it was only later that FIFA introduced a limit of 50. When several decisions came under scrutiny after Italy 1990, football’s world governing body opted to lower the upper limit for match officials from 50 to 45, but change is on the horizon.
"There is no compulsory retirement age in football, for players, coaches or all other club staff. The FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo in June voted down age restrictions and limits on terms of office by a large majority. Referees can also benefit from these significant freedoms. For the time being they are obliged to lay down their whistles in international football at the age of 45. This regulation is in stark contradiction of competitive principles, because performance must take precedence over age in all cases. The modern referee is a sportsman – a mentally and physically trained athlete. His fitness to practice his trade at the highest level is earned and legitimised by his performance in applying the Laws, and in physical and psychological areas. For especially demanding tasks such as these, practised skill and experience are indispensable qualities. Removing age restrictions would open new horizons in the direction of professionalism. Highly pragmatic considerations have obstructed this path so far. Why would anyone choose a profession which requires him to step down at the age of 45? I think it is high time to extend the resolution made by Congress to referees. This has to be discussed by the Referees Committee", said FIFA President Joseph Blatter.
Source: FIFA Weekly