The refereeing teams chosen for UEFA EURO 2012 take their next important steps towards this summer's tournament in Poland and Ukraine next week when they travel to Warsaw for the latest final-round preparations.
The UEFA EURO 2012 Preparatory Workshop for Referees, Assistant Referees and Additional Assistant Referees will feature fitness work, as well as specific instructions from the UEFA Referees Committee on areas such as holding in the penalty area, offside, handball, simulation, free-kick management, injury protocol and dissent/mobbing.
Each of the 31 games in Poland and Ukraine will be handled by a full team of seven match officials, with the referee, two assistant referees and the fourth official being supplemented by two additional assistant referees as well as a reserve assistant referee. The complete list of officials can be found on UEFA.com.
A total of 80 match officials – the six officials named for each team, as well as the previously selected four fourth officials and four reserve assistant referees – will attend the UEFA EURO 2012 workshop in the Polish capital. During the course between 30 April and 3 May, all officials will undergo the FIFA fitness test and the final selection of quintets will follow that test. On Wednesday the media will be appraised of the refereeing guidelines for the tournament, which runs from 8 June to 1 July.
The additional assistant referees are being deployed at UEFA EURO 2012 as part of a continuing experiment authorised by football's lawmakers, the International Football Association Board (IFAB). The additional assistants stand on the goal line and help the referee in the decision-making process, especially with regard to penalty-area incidents.
Ahead of UEFA EURO 2012, the match officials have been taking charge of games in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, and their progress is being monitored by the UEFA Referees Committee – who are former international referees with vast experience of the profession, and chose the 12 main EURO referees last December.
The EURO referees joined the rest of the European refereeing elite and new international referees for the annual UEFA winter course in Antalya, Turkey, in February.
The referees are being given comprehensive fitness guidance by UEFA's referee fitness team led by Belgian expert Werner Helsen. Off the field, they can also count on the experience gleaned by Pierluigi Collina, now UEFA's chief refereeing officer after a career with the whistle which saw him officiate at the biggest matches on the planet. All with the aim of being at the peak of their powers in the most demanding of jobs.
"A tournament like the EURO, it's a very short tournament where even one match can be decisive; so this is what is clear to the referees," Collina told UEFA.com. "Everything is important, everything can be decisive. There is no match without any important interest, everything can mean a lot, not only for the teams but also for the referees. So [the referees] are very motivated and determined [to give] the best performance possible."
The 12 referees have been picked for their know-how and the quality of their performances in the UEFA Champions League over the last two seasons. Only one referee remains from the team at UEFA EURO 2008 – England's Howard Webb.
The referees nowadays have to be as supremely fit as the best athletes, and are nurtured accordingly. In additional, they have to be tactically aware – and try to anticipate what might happen amid the high pace of a top game.
“It is crucial, absolutely crucial," Collina explained. "Today, the referee must absolutely know what can happen. This is the difference. The referee should know before what can happen. He has to predict, he has to be aware of what can happen maybe one second later. This is the best way to be ready to take a decision.
"If you are surprised by something, you are very probably wrong," the Italian added. "If you know that something can happen, [if] you are ready, it's very probable that you will be right. So this is the main difference."
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