Refereeing teams from Azerbaijan, Serbia and Sweden are taking a significant step forward in their careers at the UEFA Youth League finals in Nyon
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Talented young footballers are relishing the opportunity to perform on an international stage at the UEFA Youth League finals in Nyon – and three referee teams are also picking up invaluable experience that will help them along their career paths.
Friday’s first semi-final between Chelsea and Porto at the Colovray Stadium was refereed by match officials from Serbia – referee Srdan Jovanović and assistant referees Uroš Stojković and Milan Mihajlović.
The second semi-final, which brought together Manchester City and Barcelona, was officiated by the Azerbaijan team of referee Aliyar Aghayev and his assistants Zeynal Zeynalov and Akif Amirali.
Switzerland provided the two fourth officials for the semi-finals – Fedayi San for the Chelsea-Porto encounter, and Sandro Schärer for the game featuring Manchester City and Barcelona.
Monday’s eagerly awaited final will be officiated by Sweden’s Andreas Ekberg, along with assistants Mehmet Culum and Stefan Hallberg. Another Swede, Kristoffer Karlsson, will act as fourth official.
UEFA has chosen the three referee teams on the basis of the potential that they have shown on their assignments so far in UEFA’s European competitions. In addition, the officials are gaining invaluable experience in domestic league and cup competitions in their own countries.
The referees are also being given important advice and guidance at UEFA Youth League matches by experienced former referees, who act as observers and hold debriefing sessions with the officials after their matches.
Two observers – UEFA chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina and UEFA refereeing officer Marc Batta – will watch the referees at their assignments in Nyon, and will meet with the officials to review their seasons so far and give crucial pointers in the constant search for improvement.
As part of UEFA’s comprehensive referee development programme, the majority of the match officials at the Nyon finals have also been helped in their progress at courses run by the UEFA Centre of Refereeing Excellence (CORE), which makes a crucial contribution to preparing young referees for the future.
A key duty for any UEFA referee is to protect the image of the game, and the referees at the UEFA Youth League finals are being asked to be ‘educators’ to the young footballers on the pitch.
In managing the players, the referees are playing a key role in helping them to learn important values, such as respect for the referee and opponents.
The three referee teams are hopeful of enjoying successful careers at the highest levels – and the UEFA Youth League appointments are the latest step in giving them the experience to handle major matches in the coming years.