Senior refereeing officials from UEFA's 53 member associations gather in Nyon on Wednesday and Thursday for a workshop on the additional assistant referee (AAR) system which became part of the Laws of the Game this summer.
UEFA is deploying additional assistant referees in its club competitions in the wake of a decision by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in July, following experiments which had taken place since 2008. The referee, two assistants and fourth official are joined by two additional assistant referees positioned alongside each goal line, with the particular brief to watch for incidents in the penalty area.
The workshop will look at the results of AAR deployment in some 1,000 matches, and will examine issues such as preparation and training exercises. The national associations will have a chance to air their views. AARs have been used in Italy since the start of this season, and the workshop will look at the impact of AARs in Serie A.
UEFA chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina and UEFA refereeing officers Hugh Dallas and Marc Batta will join other members of the UEFA Referees Committee in passing on expert advice on the system and its benefits, as well as areas where UEFA is striving for improvement.
UEFA has produced a DVD for its member associations, which gives information on implementing the AAR system. The DVD is based on a presentation given by Collina in Kyiv in July. Through key video examples – especially those related to UEFA EURO 2012 matches, where audio communication among the referee teams was recorded – the DVD demonstrates the practical benefits on the pitch, as well as offering solutions for utilising refereeing resources efficiently in order to implement the system.
All FIFA member associations are free to fully apply the system, which proved its worth at UEFA EURO 2012 this summer, in particular as a deterrent against penalty-area incidents.
"With football getting even faster and the players fitter, it seems that sometimes the men in black face a mission impossible," Collina said at UEFA's season kick-off in Monaco in August. "Two extra pairs of eyes focusing on the penalty areas are of valuable assistance to the referee, and strengthen the refereeing team in confidence and numbers, while allowing the game to flow. This is the real reason behind having two extra officials on the field of play."
The presence of additional assistant referees is stopping a lot of fouls being committed. "Because of their presence, the number of these kinds of incidents has diminished," said Collina. "During EURO 2012 there were an increased number of goals scored from headers. This is a consequence of the diminishing of pulling and pushing which makes it easier to score a headed goal. We also had better control of the goal line to assess whether the ball crossed."
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