De Burgos Bengoetxea, LaLiga’s Basque whistle

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Almost six years under the critic magnifying glass of fans, players and media have made De Burgos Bengoetxea one of Spanish LaLiga’s steel referees. The Basque official is one of the most popular faces of Spanish’s refereeing, making himself a place in the First Division of the country and in international competitions based on hard work and effort. Besides, he has become with the appearance of VAR in one of the referees most linked to this new system. A cocktail of attributes that made him worthy of an important place in Spanish’s football panorama.

Ricardo De Burgos Bengoetxea was born in Bilbao, Basque Country, on March 29, 1986. His life has always been linked to refereeing, as he is the son of the also referee Ernesto Burgos Nuñez, who refereed in Spanish’s First Division between 1976 and 1982 a total of 69 matches. Having such an example like his father, no wonder that soon he would share his passion and decide to dedicate to refereeing.

Beginnings in refereeing

“I was 15 years old and I was in cadet Indar-tsu, a friend from high school told me there was a referee course and I found it interesting to know more about the Laws of the Game, even though later I wouldn’t referee. We took it late 2000 and on January 5 or 6 of 2001 I was already refereeing my first match. I got interested, people liked how I refereed and I’ve been lucky enough to make it to Spanish First Division, something maybe as a player I wouldn’t have made it”, the Basque referee remembered in an interview with Deia newspaper.

His professional career started in the Third National Divisional, quickly achieving the jump to Second Division. In said category, he was in charge of 88 matches. His decisions and great work turned him into one of the most promising referees in that moment, achieving the attention and qualification necessary (he got a score of 9,47 that year) to make it into Spanish’s LaLiga First Division.

First Division and internationality

Once promoted to First Division, his first official match was a Levante-Celta played in 2015, that ended with galician victory. “Yes, of course. A Levante-Celta that Celta won 2-1. It was a game with 40 degrees at 10pm, it was broadcasted by Teledeporte and I remember that I sent off a Levante player in minute 4 with a straight red card”, the referee answered to Deia’s question about his memories of his first match in the division.

His first year in the maximum category of Spanish football served him as learning, and he soon managed to referee bigger matches such as Madrid’s derby  played by Atletico de Madrid and Real Madrid, or Spanish’s 2017 SuperCup, where Real Madrid an F.C. Barcelona faced each other. In his second season as a First Division referee, in 2016/2017, he ended fourth in the ranking made by the Referees Technical Committee of the RFEF.

In 2017 the doors for a new opportunity opened to him when the also Spanish referee Clos Gomez gave up his place as international in order to direct Spanish’s VAR system. That place was taken by Bengoetxea, who since January 1, 2018 carries with him the title of International UEFA referee. A year earlier, in addition, he was chosen to represent Spain in UEFA’s CORE Program for young referees.

In these five years that have passed since his debut in First Division, De Burgos Bengoetxea has become with the incorporation of VAR system in one of its most popular faces. If the Basque is not in the field, it is usual to find him in the VOR room as a video assistant. His participations in this system does not only limited to our borders, but he also exercises his role in the international area. The referee was the Spanish VAR representative in the former Sub-17 World’s Cup.

Work during quarantine

With the current situation due to COVID-19, De Burgos Bengoetxea shared in the aforementenioned interview how the referees handled the situation. During quarantine, even though competitions were suspended, referees never stopped working, preparing both on a physical and regulatory level, “It was hard not being able to train in the street and the muscles noticed that, because when it was time to go back to normal, the muscles resented. But luckily, I haven’t gain weight, which was fundamental in order to go back without problems”.


From time to time, they had to do exams about game rules or video-tests with our CloudLab platform, as well as match’s analysis and VAR simulations on a european level. This way, the Basque referee returned at 100% to competition, ready to give his best on the field and in the VAR room.


With an extensive curriculum as this, it’s hard to have things left to do or goals to achieve. The Basque has earned continuity in Spanish First Division and to be International, but there is something for him yet to achieve. In an interview on Youtube by Amigos del Arbitraje, the referee shared what is that thing that he hasn’t achieve yet but he seeks, without marking a date, in the future.

“Hopefully with time, some day, I get the chance to be main referee [in Copa del Rey’s final]. I was lucky enough to be fourth referee. Well, I don’t mark any date, really. The priority is to enjoy, and all the positive things that come and adding, great”, affirmed De Burgos with enthusiasm.

For now, he has been designed by UEFA to referee in the group phase of Sub-21 EuroCup. This way, we can see the Spanish representative direct the matches of this phase, that is going to be held in Hungary and Slovenia from 24 to 31 of March.

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