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'Man in the Middle': access all areas with Champions League referees

About UEFA

The first episode of a new four-part UEFA series debuts today, giving viewers a new angle on what it takes to referee at the highest level.

The first episode of 'Man in the Middle', a brand new UEFA.tv offering an unprecedented look into the lives of UEFA Champions League referees, is available to watch now.

The series opener introduces viewers to some of European football's top officials learning how to adapt to the introduction of VAR and giving their own frank assessments of some of the most-talked-about decisions since its adoption in early 2019.

Björn Kuipers hurries Lionel Messi off the pitch

Featuring behind-the-scenes access and on-field exchanges under the Champions League spotlight, 'Man in the Middle' brings viewers closer than ever before to the life of a referee.

Roberto Rosetti, UEFA's chief of refereeing, believes the series will give fans an alternative view on match officials.

"It's important to communicate with people, to show what the referees are doing," he says. "They are human beings, they are trying to do their best, they are really professional, they are really serious and honest people."

Which referees feature in episode one of Man in the Middle?

Björn Kuipers – Netherlands
Szymon Marciniak – Poland
Damir Skomina – Slovenia
Clément Turpin – France
Felix Zwayer – Germany

Key quotes: referees on VAR

Damir Skomina's Champions League final penalty call was backed up by VAR

Damir Skomina: "We need to be transparent and to make the right and correct decisions, and, of course, to forget our ego.

"I’m really happy that now we have this help, to avoid being in the newspaper the next day, on the main point for why one team is out because of the referee. VAR is really welcome to help us.

"When this kind of thing happens, we need to think about what our duty is. We are not there to be popular, we’re there to make decisions. And sometimes these decisions are unpopular."

Clément Turpin: "VAR is a new tool, and when there is a VAR intervention, you have to be aware of two things: the information that you receive from the VAR, so you have to be focused on it. You have to [also] be aware of your body language. At this moment, all the people in the stadium, all the cameras are on you. So, it’s important to be focused on the communications, but important as well to be aware of the message that you give at this moment. So, calm, confident, in control."

Also in 'Man in the Middle', episode one

Björn Kuipers discusses what it was like to get through 86 minutes of a Champions League semi-final carrying a muscular injury. We also go behind the scenes with Szymon Marciniak, Clément Turpin and Felix Zwayer, who talk about their motivations, experiences and life away from football.

First UEFA.tv documentary series

Free-to-view on UEFA.tv, ‘Man in the Middle’ is the first original documentary series produced for UEFA’s own digital video platform.

Four weekly episodes give unique insight into one of the toughest jobs in football, and how UEFA's community of referees have adapted - not just to VAR, but also the on-going pandemic, as well as the physical and psychological preparation that is now so central to modern elite referees’ training.