Cuneyt Cakir is a 38-year-old referee from Istanbul who works predominantly in the Turkish Super Lig where he is regarded as one of the league’s best officials having recently refereed the top of the table clash between Besiktas and Galatasaray at the Recep Tayyip Erdogan Stadyumu.
An experienced official in European competition, Cakir first took charge of a Champions League game back in 2008, officiating a qualifier between Dynamo Kyiv and Irish league side Drogheda United in August of that year.
He refereed several Europa League ties over the next two years before earning promotion to Champions League duty on a regular basis from 2010.
Cakir also began officiating international games from 2008 with the 2010 World Cup qualifier between Andorra and England representing his debut.
2. Big Game Experience
Fourth official for last season’s Champions League final, aside from the previously mentioned Istanbul derby clash, Cakir has refereed several major Champions League encounters.
Arguably his most prestigious game to date came in December 2012 when he was named referee for the final of the FIFA Club World Cup between Corinthians and Chelsea.
Cakir has been in charge of two Champions League group stage games this term – Bayern Munich’s 2-0 win over AS Roma and Shakhtar Donetsk’s 2-2 draw with Porto.
An experienced official at international level, Cakir officiated three games at World Cup 2014 with the biggest being the semi-final clash between the Netherlands and Argentina. He was also referee for the Euro 2012 semi-final between Spain and Portugal with both games going to penalties.
3. Card Count
Cakir comes into this game off the back of a rather prolific run of bookings in the Turkish Super Lig with a total of 20 yellow cards and three red cards dished out over his last five outings as referee.
One clash between Rizespor and Besiktas was a notable highlight with two reds and five yellows while the previously mentioned game between Besiktas and Galatasaray also featured a red card for the hosts after just over an hour.
Shakhtar’s group stage encounter with Porto also featured seven yellow cards but no reds. In fact, it’s been seven games since Cakir last sent someone off in the Champions League.
On the international stage, Cakir has averaged around three yellow cards per game over his past six outings though a 2014 World Cup play-off between Ukraine and France featured two red cards, a further four yellows and a penalty.
Another qualifier for the tournament in Brazil, involving England and Ukraine, also featured six yellow cards, a Three Lions penalty and a red card for Steven Gerrard after the Liverpool man picked up two yellows.
4. Controversial Moments
Cakir may be best known for a contentious decision in another Champions League tie involving Jose Mourinho and an English side.
March 5th, 2013 and Manchester United lead Real Madrid 1-0 at Old Trafford, thanks to an own goal from Sergio Ramos, and are 2-1 up on aggregate.
In the 56th minute Nani challenges Alvaro Arbeloa for the ball with a high boot in the middle of the United half. Both players go down, then Cakir brandishes a red card to the Portuguese winger.
Sir Alex Ferguson is furious, while Mourinho reacts quickly to the one man advantage with Luka Modric brought on. The Croatian levels the scores minutes later before Cristiano Ronaldo nets the winner. Cakir’s decision proves to be a pivotal moment with Mourinho the beneficiary.
5. Previous issues
Though Cakir has never taken charge of a game involving PSG before, he actually has quite a lengthy history of encounters with the Parisiens’ opponents Chelsea.
His earliest encounter with the Blues came back in November 2010 when he took charge of a routine 4-1 victory for then-manager Carlo Ancelotti’s side over Spartak Moscow a game in which he gave the Blues a penalty, which was duly converted, and dished out just three yellow cards.
Cakir’s next meeting with Chelsea was more notable– the 2-2 draw with Barcelona that saw the Blues reach the final of the Champions League in 2012 with the Turkish official awarding a penalty to the Catalans, which was missed, as well as eight yellow cards and a straight red card for John Terry.
He has been less of good luck charm in recent meetings, refereeing Juventus’ routine 3-0 win over the Blues the following season as well as the final of the FIFA Club World Cup in the same season, sending off Gary Cahill in the 90th minute of a 1-0 loss for Chelsea against Corinthians.