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Refereeing must develop constantly to meet the demands of the modern-day game, and UEFA's refereeing activities have kept pace.

UEFA via Getty Images


Refereeing at the highest level must develop constantly, to keep in tune with the demands of the modern-day high-pace game.

The speed and movement of today's top-level football, allied to the intense media focus on the game, means that match officials must be well-prepared, highly-trained athletes who also have tactical acumen, the mental strength to withstand pressure and the ability to make split-second decisions with confidence and consistency.

UEFA's refereeing activities have kept pace with the demands placed on the men and women in the middle. In conjunction with our 55 member associations, UEFA takes great care in nurturing and promoting referees – fostering both elite and up-and-coming referees, and ensuring that newcomers to the UEFA list are given the proper instructions and advice for their duties.

All 55 member national football associations have agreed to the UEFA Convention on Referee Education and Organisation, which aims to improve referee education, enhance the role of referees, and strengthen refereeing structures and development in Europe.

Football's Laws of the Game

Referee Cheryl Foster at UEFA Women's EURO 2022
Referee Cheryl Foster at UEFA Women's EURO 2022UEFA via Getty Images

Football's constant evolution means that the Laws of the Game ( football's rules) are reviewed and updated on an annual basis. A clear understanding of these developments is essential for match officials at all levels, as well as players, coaches, fans and the media.

The International Football Association Board (The IFAB) is an independent governing body responsible for setting, amending and clarifying the Laws of the Game.

Law changes are approved ahead of their adoption at the beginning of a new season on 1 July. For tournaments such as UEFA EURO, which start in June and end in July, the competition organiser may decide the Law changes are effective as from the opening match.

How does UEFA train and develop referees?

Biannual courses for top referees

In order to preserve the beauty of the game and maintain high standards of officiating throughout our competitions, we organise two courses each season, one in summer and one in winter, to prepare Europe's top officials for their duties.

During these courses, referees undergo intense training sessions that focus on various aspects of match officiating, including the interpretation and application of football's laws and vital communication skills. UEFA's team of experts, headed by chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti, deliver presentations, tests and workshops to ensure referees and assistant referees are ready for the demands that await them in European football's top competitions, such as the men's and women's Champions League or European Championship.

UEFA organises regular workshops for elite referees
UEFA organises regular workshops for elite refereesUEFA via Getty Images

UEFA Centre of Refereeing Excellence (CORE)

UEFA kicked off the CORE programme in 2010, targeting and developing young and promising referees and assistants to prepare them for the intensity and ever-growing demands of elite-level football.

For referees and assistants to develop they need advice, guidance and motivation, as well as to be confident in their use of the English language. The UEFA CORE programme aims to provide exactly that. Using high quality technical experts, it prepares young promising referees and assistants from across Europe, and sometimes beyond, for the demands of international football.

Technology in refereeing

Video assistant referees (VAR)

VAR was introduced into the UEFA Champions League in 2019 following extensive testing and training of referees. Since then, its usage has expanded into other competitions, including all men's senior club competitions and the UEFA Women's Champions League.

How does VAR work?

In principle, there is a video assistant referee, an assistant video assistant referee and two video operators in a video operations room (VOR) on site at all UEFA games where VAR is being used. For some matches, the VOR is located at UEFA headquarters in Nyon and VAR is operated remotely from there.

VAR explained: the four match-changing situations

The VAR team at the stadium will constantly check for clear and obvious errors related to the following four match-changing situations:

1) goals
2) incidents in the penalty area
3) red cards
4) mistaken identity

• The VAR team will check all match-changing situations, but will only intervene for clear and obvious mistakes. The referee can hold up play while a decision is being reviewed.

• If the VAR review provides clear evidence for a serious mistake in one of the game-changing situations, the VAR can then ask the referee to conduct an on-field review. The final decision can only be taken by the referee.

• The VAR is also able to take into account any infringement that could have taken place in the immediate build-up to the incident (the attacking phase of play).

• For 'factual' decisions (e.g. offsides, fouls in or outside the penalty area), the VAR can simply inform the referee of those facts and the on-field view screen isn't needed, but it is always the referee who takes the final decision.The on-field review process will be communicated within the stadium using either the stadium screens or the public announcement system.

Semi-automated offside technology (SAOT)

SAOT enables VAR teams to determine offside situations quickly and more accurately, thanks to specialised cameras which track 29 different body points per player. Introduced in 2022, the system is used in the UEFA Champions League from the play-off round onwards, the UEFA Women's Champions League from the quarter-finals, as well as the UEFA Europa League and Europa Conference League finals, UEFA's men's and women's EURO tournaments and the UEFA Nations League.

SAOT in action

Goal-line technology (GLT)

UEFA also manages the installation and operation of Goal-Line Technology (GLT) in some of our competitions, from varying stages. Our Goal Decision suppliers are Hawk-Eye Innovations, the leading company in this field, providing GLT services to a number of top-flight leagues in Europe using a camera-based tracking system.

Should clubs or national associations have existing FIFA-certified GLT installations at their venues for other fixtures, we accept the use of such systems upon confirmation that both teams agree to its use. UEFA also centrally manages the use of GLT in our final tournaments, such as the UEFA Nations League and UEFA EURO.

A goal-line technology check prior to a UEFA Women's Champions League game
A goal-line technology check prior to a UEFA Women's Champions League gameUEFA via Getty Images

How do I become a referee?

UEFA has launched a new campaign, "Be a Referee!", which aims to increase knowledge about refereeing, highlight the importance of referees for the game and inspire young people start a career as a match official. The campaign is part of a wider programme through which UEFA will support the national associations in their recruitment activities aiming to recruit around 40,000 new referees per season.

Be a Referee!

General terms and conditions for referees (2022 edition)
UEFA Convention on Referee Education and Organisation – Edition 2020

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