Young players from the four teams taking part in the UEFA Youth League finals in Nyon have been given important insights into financial planning and the video assistant referee (VAR) system at an education session.
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The four teams competing at the UEFA Youth League finals in Nyon swapped the Stade de Colovray pitch for the classroom on Saturday. Taking their seats in the auditorium at UEFA's headquarters, they received lessons on two key areas of the UEFA Educational Programme – gaining insights into financial planning and the Laws of the Game.
The players from Barcelona, Chelsea, Hoffenheim and Porto also learned about the new UEFA For Players app which offers advice on a range of matters for professional footballers across Europe.
For the financial training session, the players present heard from Juan de Dios Sánchez-Roselly, a global investment strategist from Banco Santander, who spoke about the importance of receiving proper advice on how to save the wealth that comes with a career in the professional game.
Sánchez-Roselly explained that the average duration of a professional football career is eight years, and he was joined by UEFA ambassadors David James and Gaizka Mendieta, the former England goalkeeper and Spain midfielder respectively, who had their own lessons to pass on.
James cited the statistic that 40% of ex-footballers have no money within five years of leaving the sport. "You think you're going to play forever," he added, arguing for the need for young players to start planning ahead early. "If you don't have the plan, then one day the money stops, and then the lifestyle you have changes, and if you have an expensive lifestyle it's difficult to continue."
One firm message to the players was to choose a financial adviser with the same diligence with which they would select an agent, coach or surgeon. "From the moment you have money, you have people who are wanting your money," Mendieta explained. "Don't be afraid to go somewhere and ask professionals."
The other main part of the session sought to give the players an appreciation of how referees apply the Laws of the Game – with a specific focus on the video assistant referee (VAR) system.
Roberto Rosetti, UEFA's Referees Committee chairman, explained the principles of VAR, outlined the specific cases in which it is used – goals, mistaken identity, penalties and red cards – and also spelled out the benefits. "VAR is not for the referees," he said. "VAR is for football. We want to protect football; we want to protect justice in football."
Rosetti presented several examples of decisions taken using VAR in the current UEFA Champions League season – and provided an explanation of each one, with the young players hearing a recording of the conversation that took place between the referee in question and his VAR team, to allow for a proper insight into the decision-making process.
"Believe me, the referees want to take the right decisions," Rosetti added. "We want to protect football."
The Lennart Johansson trophy remains within reach of two of the teams – Chelsea and Porto, who won through to Monday's final in Nyon – but whatever the ultimate outcome, all four sets of players will be heading home with helpful insights for their lives off the field, on top of the experience gained on it.