Coaches, players and referees all made a significant contribution to the success of UEFA EURO 2012 through the positive approach which was adopted – and the UEFA Conference for European National Team Coaches in Warsaw also heard how the deployment of additional assistant referees in Poland and Ukraine had a key impact on the tournament.
UEFA's chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina told national team coaches and technical directors from the UEFA member associations that dialogue between the teams and the UEFA Referees' Committee ahead of the EURO final round had been a crucial element in ensuring that football was the winner at this summer's tournament. "What we did before the start of EURO helped the cooperation between the players, coaches and referees," he explained.
The behaviour of players and coaches towards match officials was generally positive. "We tried to make sure that everyone was speaking the same language – the results could be seen, and fair play was a key factor," Collina added. The fact that there were 20% fewer fouls than at UEFA EURO 2008 provided tangible proof of a change in attitudes.
The former Italian referee also emphasised that the use of additional assistant referees at UEFA EURO 2012 – at the time, part of a continuing experiment authorised by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) – had proved its worth. "They were a big success at EURO," said Collina. "The additional assistant referees are a support for referees in their difficult task." There had been better control and assessment of incidents in the penalty area, in particular fouls, or pulling and pushing. Subsequently, additional assistant referees have been made part of the Laws of the Game by the IFAB, and are being deployed in UEFA's major club competitions.
Collina explained to the technicians that the hard work to improve refereeing being carried out at European level would continue apace, as UEFA maintains its programme to help train and nurture match officials from a physical and technical point of view. Modern referees, he said, had to be 100% fit to handle the high-intensity modern game, and tactically aware in knowing how teams play. "Preparation is crucial," he stressed.
The four semi-finalist coaches at UEFA EURO 2012 – Vicente del Bosque (Spain), Joachim Löw (Germany), Cesare Prandelli (Italy) and Paulo Bento (Portugal) took part in an interview session in which they explained the reasons for their team's success – factors ranging from adapting the national playing culture and habits, instilling self-belief and confidence in players, having clear goals in mind, and profiting from long-term football development.
Four eminent coaches – Fabio Capello, Jerzy Engel, Gérard Houllier and Lars Lagerbäck – worked for UEFA's Technical Team at UEFA EURO 2012, and they likewise provided the audience with a wealth of observations. The quartet emphasised, among many things, the beautiful side of the game which came to the fore in the tournament, the organisation and atmosphere in both countries and the pride of the people, the determination of the teams to win and not just sit back on a lead, the hunger still shown by Spain even after the triumphs of 2008 and 2010, the joy of the supporters and the spirit of fair play which made this EURO such a pleasure.
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