Euro 2020

Referees prepare for an intense year Behind the scenes at UEFA – Euro 2020

by: Adam Smith


UEFA’s introductory and advanced winter arbitration courses in Mallorca have prepared the continent’s elite referees, both women and men, for a year that promises to be exciting for interclub football and national teams.

UEFA’s great attention to arbitration continues to have positive and rewarding effects, as Roberto Rosetti, President of the Referees Commission, tells us. Why does UEFA gather its referees at this time of year?

Roberto Rosetti

Roberto Rosetti©Sportsfile

Roberto Rosetti: This course is always important: it allows you to go back to the first part of the season and prepare the second half. We also welcome young referees who are entering the international list. This year’s week in Mallorca has been particularly significant as in addition to the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Women’s Champions League, our elite referees are preparing for UEFA EURO 2020 this summer. We make many adjustments for the various missions that are approaching. What was the program in Mallorca?

Roberto Rosetti: With the advanced referees, we analysed videos of incidents and various situations, spoke with the referees, listened to their feedback and discussed ways to improve, as the overriding objective is to continuously improve and to ensure consistency in the decision-making process of arbitrators. Referees taking part in the introductory course are newcomers to FIFA’s list of international referees. The week introduced them to the life of an international referee and explained to them what our expectations are, their various duties as UEFA representatives and the qualities they must demonstrate both on and off the pitch. Of course, we also did fitness tests to make sure the referees were in excellent shape.

Training in video refereeing assistance during training, with UEFA expert Werner Helsen (centre)

Training in video refereeing assistance during training, with UEFA expert Werner Helsen (centre)©Sportsfile Video refereeing assistance was also a key component of the course. Now that this system is operational in several European competitions, how do you rate its operation?

Roberto Rosetti: We believe that video refereeing assistance is crucial for football because it provides essential assistance to referees in their decision-making. We are very pleased with the statistics of the UEFA Champions League group stage: only one decision cancelled every four matches, it is a testament to the quality of the referees’ work. However, I stress that we only want to use this system in the event of obvious errors, not in controversial situations. We love football, and we want to keep it as it is. Our goal is to provide support to referees. What instructions did you give the referees for their upcoming assignments?

Roberto Rosetti: We ask them to remain strict with gross misconduct and violent behaviour, to protect players, and not to tolerate general altercations or expressions of disapproval. Football must have a positive image, especially in the eyes of the younger generation, and referees have an important role to play from this point of view.

Referees analyze video of a key moment in a match

Referees analyze video of a key moment in a match©Sportsfile

During the course, the new international referees were also informed of the need to show integrity and contribute to the campaign against match-fixing and corruption in football.

This is one of our key messages: our referees must lead by example and act as ambassadors for football. We ask them to retain the “three Rs” if they are asked to manipulate the outcome of a match: recognize what is happening; Refuse to rig a match; report the incident. One of the strengths of the course is the ability for new international referees to meet more experienced colleagues and learn more about what it means to be part of the referee’s elite and the paths to success.

Roberto Rosetti: For young referees, there is no better way to learn than to talk to people who have been in this profession for many years and have a solid background. In Mallorca, two of our most experienced referees, Bjorn Kuipers and Kateryna Monzul, gave a terrific presentation to the new FIFA referees about the life of an elite referee, the qualities and characteristics essential to success in this position, the dedication, courage and self-confidence required, and the desire to constantly strive to improve. The young referees have thus filled up with knowledge and experience that will undoubtedly be useful to them in the future. Looking at the training sessions, it’s obvious that the elite referee now needs to be in excellent physical condition now more than ever.

Women referees in Europe have raised the level by a notch

Women referees in Europe have raised the level by a notch©Sportsfile

RR obertoosetti: We are delighted with the way the men and women referees have responded to this challenge and managed to adapt to the demands of today’s football. They prepare in an extremely professional manner, and pay a lot of attention to their fitness and health. Over time, with our help, their physical condition has developed to the point of achieving a level of performance as high as that of the players. The referees know what they have to do and are ready for the upcoming matches. We are very proud of them! At the beginning of this particularly ambitious year, what was the general message you sent to the referees?

Roberto Rosetti: We encourage them to strive for excellence, to work on their physical condition and mentality, and to show why European referees are often seen as a reference in refereeing around the world. They also have to be tactically ready, which means studying the teams and players that will be on the field. We ask them to behave with professionalism and consistency, and to focus on their work, for the good of football. Finally, tell us about the best in this business.

Roberto Rosetti: Being an arbitrator is an excellent school of life. You learn to make decisions, to be responsible, to interact with others and to manage people. You learn to show courage in your actions. If you are passionate about football, being a referee is a great opportunity, because it is an integral part of the “beautiful game”.