Problematic Slovenian referee Slavko Vincic has stirred up controversy once again as the 42-year-old drew flak online after his officiation for Manchester United’s 0-1 defeat against Atletico Madrid.

The game resulted in Manchester United’s knockout from the Champion’s League, following Renan Lodi’s first-half header, echoed by protests and outrage from United players, staff, and supporters who criticized Vincic’s decisions as referee.

This certainly isn’t the first or the most intense heat Vincic has faced online. While currently being accused of everything from match-fixing to plain stupidity, the ref has a deep dark past as well — one that stays mysteriously unaddressed by FIFA.

So, Who Is Slavko Vincic?

Slavko Vincic in 2020

42-year-old Slavko Vincic is Slovenian, and has been an international-listed referee for FIFA ever since 2010. His first introduction to the big leagues was in 2012, when he joined as an additional assistant in the team of fellow Slovene Damir Skomina. 

He has presided over this year’s Champions League game between Genk and Liverpool, along with two more CL games and an Europa league game.

Far away from the glitzy floodlights of Belgium, however, the ref was up to what seems like no good.

Vincic’s Shady History

While current allegations are rough enough, the referee faced something much more serious in 2020, which deeply revealed links to notorious crime gangs in East Europe.

Back in the summer of 2020, Slavko Vincic was found and detained in a cabin in Bijeljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Here, local authorities discovered nine women, twenty six men, and a cache of weapons and cocaine. According to Croatian media 24Sata, Vincic was arrested alongside Tijana Maksimovic, who police believe was the ringleader of a prostitution ring. The criminal was detained while attempting to cross the Croatian border in a boat, which was carrying three women.

Bijeljina police said: “During the search of the house and vehicles used by the suspects, 14 packages of cocaine, ten pistols, three suits of body armor, over 10,000 euros (£8,996) in various currencies, phones and laptops were found and seized.”

Sources claimed that Slavko Vincic is not believed to be directly involved in the operation, but he stood accused as one of the 26 men who were found in possession of both drugs and illegal firearms. Speaking to another Slovenian newscaster Vecer, Vincic denied all direct connections to the criminal activities, and was eventually acquitted.

“I found myself on this ranch by chance. I have my own company. I was in Bosnia and Herzegovina for a business meeting. I accepted an invitation to lunch, which turned out to be my biggest mistake.”

As far as football authorities go, Vincic was given direct support by Vlado Sajn, the president of the Association of Football Referees of Slovenia. “According to the information we gathered from official and unofficial sources,” he shared, “and last but not least from Slavko himself, he is not suspected of anything, no proceedings have been instituted against him.”

Vincic’s Current Controversy

Slavko Vincic Ronaldo

As of right now, Vincic has been targeted by Manchester United and its supporters for ‘curious refereeing decisions,’ in Interim Manager Ralf Rangnick’s words.

The match result comes as a huge disappointment to United, who have not won a trophy since 2017’s Europa League. They will now have to concentrate on their fight in the Premier League — currently in fifth place, 20 points behind leaders Manchester City. They stand a good chance of securing a top 4 finish, making it to next year’s Champions League.

“I think we played a very good first half, exactly the way we wanted to play with a high energy level but we couldn’t convert that into one or two goals,” said Rangnick, who seemed satisfied with his players’ performance.

“There was always somebody lying on the floor. I would also say some curious refereeing decisions. I wouldn’t say they were decisive but at least he fell too often for those time-wasting antics and four minutes at the end added on was a joke for me,” he added.

Meanwhile, fans took to social media smearing Vincic’s name across a host of furious posts and memes, some of which called the ref to be banned from officiating:

Slavko Vincic’s next appearance will be confirmed on March 18th, as the Champions League quarter & semi-final draws take place.

(Featured Image Credits: Getty Images)