European referees urged to protect players

A busy week of UEFA course activity for Europe's top referees comes to a close on Friday.

A hectic week of UEFA course activity for Europe's leading referees comes to a close in Monaco on Friday – with match officials being encouraged to protect players from brutal tackles and maintain consistency in their decision-taking.

More than 80 referees
More than 80 top match officials – including 14 UEFA referees chosen for this summer's FIFA World Cup finals – have been attending UEFA's Advanced Course for Top and First-Class Referees and Introductory Course for International Referees.

Focal points
The focal points of events in Monaco have been the annual fitness test for European referees, as well as presentations, discussions and workshops on issues such as training routines, referees and the media, physical contact and application of various aspects of the Laws of the Game.

Firm action
Among the conclusions reached at the course was that while it is accepted the football is a game of physical contact, only unfair contact should be punished. The referees were also told that they have a duty to protect players and take firm action against brutality.

Spirit of trust
It was agreed that referees and assistant referees should always be aware that they are operating as a team, and should work together in a spirit of trust. Referees should also be as consistent as possible, avoid overreacting, and show equal fairness to defenders and attackers in match situations.             

Fitness test
All of the referees passed the fitness test at the Stade Louis II in Monaco, in which they had to run a minimum 2,700 metres in 12 minutes, two 50-metre sprints in a maximum 7.5 seconds per sprint, and two 200-metre sprints in a maximum 32 seconds per sprint.

Welcome move
As the week in the principality came to its completion, top referees and officials united in welcoming UEFA’s move to bring the leading referees and  international list newcomers together in parallel courses. More than 50 top-category and first-class referees were joined by 34 new UEFA match officials, which led to a wide exchange of experiences and opinions of life as a referee at football’s higher levels.

Listened to suggestions
"The courses have improved every year," said Scottish referee Hugh Dallas, who is preparing for duty in the World Cup in Japan and the Korean Republic. "The UEFA refereeing unit has listened to suggestions, which is very encouraging. This course was a little shorter, UEFA brought in the new referees to mix with the experienced referees, and the content was also good."

Excellent initiative
"It was an excellent initiative to stage the two courses together," said French Football Federation national referee director Michel Vautrot. "Just as young footballers look up to their idols, young referees also look to learn from their more experienced colleagues." "We can learn something from the young referees as well," was the viewpoint of top Italian referee Pierluigi Collina.