The UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship consists of three distinct stages: two qualifying rounds and an eight-team final tournament.
The competition begins with one-venue four-team mini-tournaments, although the nations with the highest UEFA coefficient may be given byes to the elite round. The winners and runners-up of the groups go through along with the required number of third-placed teams with the best record against the first and second-placed teams, to ensure there are 24 sides in the next phase.
The 24 teams are drawn into six groups of four teams. The groups are played as one-venue mini-tournaments with the winners and the runners-up with the best record against the teams first and third in their section progressing to the finals to join the hosts.
The eight teams are split into two groups of four. The top two in each group go through to the knockout phase, beginning in the semi-finals.
Further details, including the criteria for separating teams that finish level on points in a group, or after 80 minutes in a knockout match, can be found in the official competition regulations.
UEFA has announced the refereeing team for Monday's UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship final, with Greek match official Eleni Antoniou proud to be named referee for the Spain-Germany showpiece in Belarus.
A police officer from Athens, Antoniou will head a refereeing team featuring assistant referees Oleksandra Ardasheva and Emilie Aubry, from Ukraine and Switzerland respectively, as well as fourth official Vera Opeykina of Russia. "I trust in my team," she said.
Antoniou told UEFA.com she hopes the appointment will "pave the way for more opportunities". "I feel proud to be refereeing at this final tournament and I have a good team for this final," said the 31-year-old, who has been on the FIFA list since January 2014 and normally handles matches in the Greek women's top flight and men's third division. "Everything has been excellent here. This is a first final tournament for me and it has been very good for my career."
Though she has regularly taken charge of qualification games at European Women's Under-19 and WU17 levels, this latest assignment at the Borisov-Arena eclipses her fourth-official posting for the 2014 UEFA Women's Champions League semi-final between Turbine Potsdam and Wolfsburg. It also caps an invaluable experience as part of the 16-strong refereeing squad at these finals.
"I have taken this opportunity to learn from the UEFA people here and to make improvements for the future," said the mother of two young boys. "We've had a lot of good advice from the observers. There's been a good spirit and togetherness between the girls, both in training and back at the hotel."
For UEFA Referees Committee member Bo Karlsson, Eleni and her colleagues – all third-category referees – have shown great promise for the future. "
We can see them refereeing at the higher level in the future," he said. "We have had some crucial decisions here and the outcome has been correct."
As part of their development, every refereeing team has had its own post-match debriefing, though Karlsson has been careful not to overload the officials. "The referees were given instructions before the tournament and also had a fitness check. Then, if there is a trend, we discuss that with the whole group – some general comments when needed.
"The highest they have done until now is mostly WU19 elite round," continued the man tasked with overseeing the refereeing operation here in Minsk. "We started with six referees and eight assistants plus two fourth officials from the host country for the group stage. Then we kept four referees and four assistants for the rest of the tournament."
The other four remaining officials – namely Portuguese referee Ana Aguiar, assistant referees Kristina Yanashkevich and Bianca Scheffers of Kazakhstan and the Netherlands respectively, and fourth official Tess Olofsson from Sweden – have been appointed to supervise the third-place play-off between England and Norway in Minsk earlier on Monday. Olofsson and Opeykina refereed the semi-finals.
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