The UEFA EURO 2012 referee teams have been sent into the final phase of preparations for the tournament with the backing to make a memorable contribution at this summer's festival of football in Poland and Ukraine.
The referees, assistant referees, additional assistant referees and fourth officials are gathered in Warsaw this week for their EURO preparatory workshop, during which they will receive key instructions from the UEFA Referees Committee and undertake fitness work to fine-tune themselves for the assignments to come.
"EURO 2012 will be a tough challenge," UEFA's chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina told the match officials. "It will not only be remembered for the quality of the play, but also for the quality of the refereeing. We need a very high commitment from all of you from now until the end of the competition."
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 additional assistant referees, who stand on the goal line and focus in particular on penalty-area incidents, are being deployed as part of a continuing experiment, authorised by the International Football Association Board (IFAB). View the complete list of officials.
"UEFA has selected the 12 best teams of match officials," Collina explained. "You are here because you gave the best performances – so you deserve to be here. Now we need the best from each of you." This viewpoint was echoed by UEFA Referees Committee chairman and UEFA vice-president Ángel María Villar Llona in his welcome message. "We have chosen the best of the best, and on behalf of the UEFA President Michel Platini and general secretary Gianni Infantino, I want to wish you the very best of luck for the tournament."
Collina urged the referees to conduct themselves as true teams. "Play as a team, because we can win only if the team wins," he said. "Work as a team if you want to make your team successful."
The Italian – who himself enjoyed an officiating career at the top of the game – urged the referees to be reliable, consistent and accurate in their decision-making. "Take decisions that are understood and accepted," he said. He also emphasised that a key to the EURO referees' success in Poland and Ukraine would be proper preparation.
"Today in football, nothing happens by chance," he reflected, stressing the need for preparation in technical, physical, match and psychological terms. "Take care of yourselves. We need athletes today and not just referees. Always know what can happen next, predict instead of following, be focused, learn about teams' tactics, look after your image and be mentally ready for this competition."
"You are our team, and we want to be proud of you and your success," Collina concluded. "You are UEFA's team, and we are ready to support you. If you work hard and trust in yourselves, then everything is possible."
During the course, the EURO referees will be given 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. A media session will also provide an opportunity for UEFA's refereeing tournament guidelines to be explained to the public.
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