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Björn Kuipers, Sander van Roekel and Erwin Zeinstra were appointed as knights of the KNVB on Sunday just after the EURO 2020 final between Italy and England. The (assistant) referees received these high awards from federation president Just Spee for their services to Dutch football in their positions of (assistant) referees at the highest (inter)national level.
Because of their way of working together and the successes that Kuipers, Van Roekel and Zeinstra have achieved together, Team Kuipers has become a household name nationally and internationally. As a team, Kuipers, Van Roekel and Zeinstra led, among other things, the final of the FIFA Confederations Cup (2013), the Europa League final (2013 and 2018), the Champions League final (2014) and, as icing on the cake, the final of EURO 2020 (2021).
Team Kuipers is a great ambassador of the KNVB and of the Dutch referee corps. Their positive attitude, dedication and commitment make them an example for their fellow (assistant) referees. Time after time they show that their success is the result of hard work, a lot of training and a willingness to improve themselves. Their success is a source of inspiration for boys and girls to start a referee career as well. Many of them see Kuipers as their great example.
Kuipers (48, 643 matches) has been active as a referee for more than thirty years, in professional football since 2004. In 2006 Kuipers became a FIFA international before he was promoted to the UEFA Elite Category in 2009. Van Roekel (47, 643 matches) exchanged the whistle for the flag in 2003. In 2007 he was appointed FIFA international to soon accompany Kuipers to matches and tournaments. Zeinstra (44, 658 games) opted for the step to assistant referee in 2005. In 2010 he became a FIFA international to join Team Kuipers a year later.
The KNVB awards are handed out in recognition of the efforts of association volunteers or KNVB officials with a long track record. Depending on the length of the 'service period' and the weight of the position, there are various awards: a silver and gold referee pin, a silver and gold KNVB appreciation pin, meritorious member, federal knight and honorary member of the KNVB.