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Referees savouring UEFA Youth League chance

For the refereeing team, the UEFA Youth League finals is not just an important step for their careers, but a chance to help young players learn key values like respect.

UEFA Youth League refereeing team ©Getty Images

The UEFA Youth League finals in Nyon are providing invaluable experience for talented young footballers – and the refereeing teams taking charge at the Colovray Sports Centre are also taking important steps forward on their own career paths.

On Friday, a trio from Israel officiated at the first semi-final between RSC Anderlecht and FC Shakhtar Donetsk – referee Eitan Shmuelevitz was joined by compatriots Danny Krasikow and Nissan Davidy – while the second semi-final pitting AS Roma against Chelsea FC was handled by Spanish match officials: referee Jesús Gil Manzano and assistants Miguel Martínez and Teodoro Sobrino.

Referees from the Netherlands have been selected to oversee Monday's final in Nyon (16.00CET kick-off): Serdar Gözübüyük and assistants Hessel Steegstra and Mario Diks. Host association Switzerland supplies the fourth officials for the three games – Adrien Jaccottet and Stephan Klossner for the semi-finals, and Alain Bieri for the final.

The refereeing teams are being accompanied by former French international referee Marc Batta, who is now a UEFA refereeing officer. Batta combines the task of referee observer at the UEFA Youth League finals with leading the important referee debrief session after the match officials' assignments.

"The referees have been identified as having potential," said Batta. "Although these referees are still young, they already have some European match experience and they referee at the highest levels in their domestic competitions."

The officials for Anderlecht v Shakhtar
The officials for Anderlecht v Shakhtar©Getty Images

In taking the whistle for these UEFA Youth League fixtures, the officials are also being asked to play an important educational role with the youngsters. "The players in the UEFA Youth League are young players, so the referees must manage them and help prepare them for the future in learning UEFA's values – for example, the players should not show dissent. The players should also understand that at UEFA, respect vis-a-vis the referee and the opposition must take priority."

UEFA's Centre of Refereeing Excellence (CORE) in Nyon serves a crucial function in preparing potential international match officials, ensuring the next generation is of the highest quality. Some of the officials appointed to the UEFA Youth League finals have already come through the CORE system. "The work that is being done there with young referees is absolutely essential, and is bearing fruit," said Batta.

"We are using the time in Nyon to look back over the referees' seasons, to find out if they are satisfied and where they feel they can improve. After matches, the debrief session involves feedback about the game, and we look to emphasise the positive elements, because this obviously gives the referees confidence. If there are points to discuss, we do it openly and honestly to help them progress and improve."

Like all of his colleagues on the UEFA Referees Committee, Batta derives great pleasure from giving back his refereeing experience to the game. "I really enjoy the work in helping referees progress, and it's certainly very satisfying to see some of them reach the highest levels."

Finally, what words of encouragement does Batta have for the refereeing teams that are part of the UEFA Youth League finals this year? "They should give the best of themselves, and take pleasure from what they're doing, because you don't work well if you feel stress or fear. Most importantly they should work hard. It is only in the dictionary where success comes before work."

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