Whistle blower Collina picked for final
YOKOHAMA, Japan (CNN) -- Italian referee Pierluigi Collina has been put in charge of Sunday's World Cup final between Brazil and Germany.
Collina, 42, who refereed his first international match in 1996 and who speaks Italian, English, French and Spanish, has become the game's most famous official.
The accountant became the favourite to get the final after Italy were knocked out by co-hosts South Korea. FIFA, world football's governing body, confirmed his appointment on Thursday.
His performance will come under extra scrutiny during the final in Yokohama, Japan, following a series of high-profile rows over the standard of refereeing.
FIFA admitted at the weekend that referees had made "major mistakes." (Full story)
Portugal, Italy and Spain all cried foul over decisions that they say led to their downfall against co-hosts South Korea.
And Turkey were enraged after their group game against Brazil in which they had two players sent off and lost to a controversial late penalty.
Collina understands the pressure he is under. "We try to do our best, absolutely we try to do our best. Sometimes it is not enough, but it is the same thing for players," he told The Associated Press.
"I try to keep my feet on the ground, but it is very difficult. I have refereed a lot of matches in my career, but the World Cup final is something totally different from all the other things."
Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari denied stories that the national football federation had wanted a different referee because Collina and Germany are sponsored by Adidas.
He told Reuters: "I was hoping it would be him. He's a spectacular referee, everybody likes him, the players like him and I like him."
Sepp Blatter said he does not see anything wrong in the fact that Germany and the referee have the same sponsor, adding that Adidas is also sponsoring FIFA and the World Cup Tournament.
Collina began officiating by accident when he took charge of his team mates' training matches while injured after playing as a teenager.
Moving through the Italian minor leagues, Collina refereed his first Serie A match on December 15, 1991.
But his talents soon earned him a reputation far beyond his own shores.
He was in charge of the memorable 1999 European Cup final when Manchester United came back from a goal down with injury time approaching to upset Bayern Munich 2-1.
Collina's assistants on Sunday will be Philip Sharp of England and Leif Lindberg of Sweden, with Scotland's Hugh Dallas the fourth official.
FIFA admits refs made 'mistakes'
June 23, 2002
Italian TV may sue over Cup exit
June 21, 2002
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