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Five-refs trial to be requested for major competitions

After a successful trial, UEFA is to propose to FIFA and the International Football Association Board that the experiment with five match officials be continued in major European competitions.

The trial with five officials proved a success in the UEFA Europa League
The trial with five officials proved a success in the UEFA Europa League ©Getty Images

UEFA is to propose to the world football body FIFA and the International Football Association Board (IFAB) that the experiment with five match officials be continued in major European competitions – the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League, the UEFA Super Cup and UEFA EURO 2012.

The Executive Committee's proposal follows the option given by the IFAB to the continental football confederations and national football associations to carry out a further two-year trial to test the system of five referees.

Consequently, UEFA is to request that further trials take place in the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League from the qualifying play-offs ahead of the group stage, the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League as from the group stage, the 2010 UEFA Super Cup and the UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying phase and final tournament.

FIFA is requesting the confederations and associations to transmit their wishes, and an IFAB sub-committee will meet in July to approve requests that are made. The five-referee experiment has been undertaken most recently during the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League season.

The system of five match officials involves the referee, two assistant referees and the fourth official being accompanied by two additional assistant referees who take up positions alongside each goal. The two additional assistants are charged in particular with the task of focusing on penalty-area incidents.

"We have made the experiment in the UEFA Europa League, it went well, and we want to continue," said UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino. "It is difficult to find something negative in this experiment. We now have to fulfil the formalities and make a request to FIFA, and we hope that FIFA will grant this request."

Initial trials with two additional assistant referees took place in UEFA European Under-19 Championship qualifying tournaments in 2008, after which the IFAB gave permission for the experiment to be continued at professional level. The UEFA Europa League was the setting for the experiment in its debut season.

The UEFA Executive Committee also took a series of other decisions at its meeting in Nyon on Thursday.