Forty-five match officials, men and women, from across Europe traveled to UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, for UEFA’s latest introductory course for international referees – many of them Between them, it was their first major contact with the European body after having obtained the international badge which gives them the right to officiate in competitions of international level.
The introductory course serves as a foundation for new international referees to prepare them for an exciting new stage in their fledgling career – and to help them become fully acquainted with the UEFA refereeing lifestyle.
“Joining the UEFA refereeing team is one of the most important moments in a young referee’s career,” said Roberto Rosetti, chairman of the UEFA Referees Committee.
“The main purpose of the course is to inform referees of our concepts, technical guidelines and other requirements,” added Rosetti. “We explain what we want to see from them on the pitch and how they should represent UEFA, and convey UEFA’s refereeing values - emphasizing the discipline, hard work and dedication they need to reach the top.”
Björn Kuipers, who refereed the UEFA EURO 2020 final last July before retiring and becoming head of refereeing at UEFA, has proven to be an ideal and influential role model for international ‘rookies’ to listen to during the opening speech of the course. In addition to the presentations, the newcomers analyzed match clips, took a physical fitness test and studied aspects such as game and player management, as well as technical topics such as challenges, surface incidents of penalty, handball and offside.
Referees have earned their international badge through performances in their country’s domestic football, and candidates for the international stage are nominated by their national associations. UEFA maintains close contact with the associations to monitor referee progress, and many officials also gain crucial initial experience by taking courses at the UEFA Center of Refereeing Excellence (CORE) in Nyon.
The main thing for officials is to quickly absorb what is expected of them. “It’s a new level, a new step for them,” Rosetti said, “because we’re setting very high standards for them. During their first lesson, they take the UEFA fitness test to check their physical condition. They also pass a video test and a Laws of the Game test, and they undergo a medical check-up.
“We give them time to adapt to our sphere – they are having one of the best times in a referee’s life. It is a great challenge and opportunity for them to develop as referees and as people, and they also have a fantastic chance to exchange opinions and ideas with referees from other countries who are at the same stage of their career.
The new referees will soon be entrusted with important UEFA assignments in various UEFA competitions, at the start of a career path which he hopes will take them to the top and emulate a distinguished list of officials players who also began their journey during past introductory courses. .
Quality the key
Rosetti stressed that the path ahead for new international referees involves no time pressure. “There are no rules in this regard,” he explained. “Referees should always see their next game as the most important goal, take a step-by-step approach, work hard and not think too much at this stage about taking on the big games.
“Quality will be the key criteria for them – thinking about their refereeing, staying focused, analyzing their matches and their performances… trying to be better every day. And bearing in mind that good performances will be the key to their progress.
Meanwhile, as the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system continues to prove itself as an essential source of support for referees in their decision-making process, UEFA has organized a course for 30 VARs from national associations across Europe.
The theoretical and practical course in Nyon, which also used UEFA’s VAR facilities, aimed to introduce additional video assistant referees to the VAR team responsible for applying the system at matches in UEFA competitions.
“We have just appointed 108 referees and 108 VARs for 108 matches ahead,” said Roberto Rosetti, “and it’s clear we need more VARs to be ready and prepared for duty.” A team of experts led by UEFA Referees Committee member Carlos Velasco Carballo led the two-day proceedings.
Significant VAR experience
“We decided to set up this course and asked the associations to provide us with VARs who were not involved in our competitions but who had significant experience in their national competitions.
The VARs invited to Nyon received comprehensive instructions and advice on UEFA’s VAR procedures, including the correct interpretation of the ‘line of intervention’ – when VAR intervention is required for a situation on the ground.
In particular, they were informed about UEFA’s concept of ‘minimum intervention, maximum benefit’. “Football remains the priority,” Rosetti said.
“Our aim is that VAR interventions are only carried out in the event of a clear and obvious error by a referee, or in the event of serious missed incidents.”