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Referee Siebert feeling great ahead of 'home' EURO

German referee Daniel Siebert shares his feelings as he prepares to officiate this summer's tournament on home soil.

Daniel Siebert (centre) with assistant referees Rafael Foltyn (left) and Jan Seidel (right)
Daniel Siebert (centre) with assistant referees Rafael Foltyn (left) and Jan Seidel (right) UEFA

As part of their preparations for UEFA EURO 2024, all selected referees, assistants and video match officials – 89 people in total – attended a two-day workshop in Frankfurt last month.

For Daniel Siebert, one of 19 referees, it was the moment the reality of his role in a home European Championship sank in. "Now that I’m here, I can fully realise that I am part of the referee team for the EURO in Germany," said the 40-year-old. "I am thankful and happy to be selected for this tournament. It feels great."

Born in Berlin, Siebert can also sense the excitement among the German population growing, as the home fans dare to dream of victory on home soil.

"The atmosphere and the tension are rising," he said. "It’s a little bit like the World Cup in 2006. By the start of that tournament the whole country was going crazy."

Familiar surroundings

Siebert was also part of the officiating team for EURO 2020, taking charge of three games. It is an experience he can lean on to prepare for the 2024 edition, but he also has the added benefit of feeling right at home.

 Siebert (l) with fellow German EURO 2024 referee Felix Zwayer
Siebert (l) with fellow German EURO 2024 referee Felix Zwayer picture alliance/dpa

"The difference with EURO 2020 is that I already know many people, I know all the stadiums, I know the people working around the matches from the German Football Association (DFB) and UEFA," he explained.

"I’m really happy and looking forward to this tournament. During the last EURO, because of COVID-19, some stadiums were only half full, and it can make a difference. But the pressure, the important matches, the fact that all eyes are on you, remain the same. I know the situation and I hope that’s a benefit for me."

A refereeing family

Referees are already feeling the benefit of spending time together ahead of the tournament, with a family atmosphere building at the group's base camp.

"We have already met each other several times on UEFA courses," said Siebert. "We have good communication, good conversation, and we can also share our experiences. I’m really enjoying being a part of this."

 Siebert (r) and his two assistants at an officials' fitness session
Siebert (r) and his two assistants at an officials' fitness sessionpicture alliance/dpa

The referees’ time together during last month’s workshop was also an opportunity to familiarise themselves with their surroundings; they are based at the same hotel complex just outside Frankfurt for the tournament.

"I think it’s really important that you feel comfortable if you are spending three or four weeks together as a group," explained Siebert. "Everyone is happy to be there and it has a benefit for your performance."

Protecting referees and the image of football

In order to encourage fair play and respect, UEFA has issued a new directive for EURO 2024 whereby referees will speak directly with team captains to explain decisions on the pitch.

"I think it’s a good message," said Siebert. "We will invite captains to speak with us if there is a situation, but now the captain also has the responsibility to protect us from teammates."

UEFA’s managing director of refereeing, Roberto Rosetti, published an open letter last month detailing the rationale and aims of the new approach.

"I’m sure it will work very well," said Siebert. "I hope everyone can say after that tournament that this was a great idea for the good of football."

Check out UEFA’s "Be a Referee!" campaign, 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.

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