In keeping with its objective of educating and developing young players, UEFA – via the UEFA Youth League – organised an education session at Valencia's Paterna training ground for the club's reserve team (Valencia Mestalla), youth team and women's team (from the Spanish women's top flight).
The day centred around three presentations: changes to the rules of play for the 2016/17 season, awareness of the dangers of social media in sport, and preventing match-fixing.
Former UEFA referee Carlos Velasco Carballo, who oversaw the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League final and retired last season, presented some of the main changes to the rules of play for the current campaign. With more than 100 newly introduced changes, the ex-official led an animated discussion, explaining modifications to the rules in common game situations – such as whether denying a goalscoring chance with a foul should be sanctioned with a yellow or a red card.
In a friendly atmosphere, Velasco Carballo also tried to break down the mythical barrier between players and referees, saying: "The objective is to bring the referee and players closer together because we share the pitch and in every game we should be trying to help each other, with utmost respect and mutual understanding."
There was also a video from UEFA's chief of communications and media, Pedro Pinto, which featured big-name players advising the youngsters on how to handle interviews or press conferences before/after games. They were also warned about the perils of social media, with a recommendation to be careful with their online activities, and above all to consider carefully what they upload or write on social media channels.
This informative session concluded with a small presentation on one of the most important issues for UEFA, match-fixing. Kepa Larumbe, chairman of legal affairs at the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), warned the players of the dangers of match-fixing, showing them UEFA's betting fraud detection system and highlighting the serious consequences facing a player found to be involved in betting on football.
"Betting is very attractive for young people now you can place bets from your phone or the internet, but be warned that you should never place a bet; you should be extremely careful and responsible because you either are or will be top-level footballers," he said, bringing the session to a close.
"As a player you cannot place any bets because in one way or another you could be connected with other teams from the same division."
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