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UEFA launches campaign to support national associations with referee recruitment

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Elite match officials Stéphanie Frappart and Michael Oliver feature in "Be a Referee!" campaign video to inspire a new generation of referees.

Be a Referee!

UEFA has launched its first-ever refereeing recruitment campaign "Be a Referee!", which aims to increase knowledge about refereeing, highlight their importance for the game and inspire young people to start a career as a match official. The campaign is part of a wider programme through which UEFA will support national associations in their recruitment activities with the aim to enlist around 40,000 new referees per season.

An assessment by UEFA’s referee committee has shown that several member associations are facing challenges in recruiting or retaining young referees before they reach higher levels, which is becoming a serious threat to the game and could have a negative impact on the number of top match officials.

UEFA chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti:

"With the number of matches increasing we currently need around 277,000 officials in European football, but we are lacking almost 40,000 referees in order to have enough for the running of the game at grassroots level. This is why UEFA has decided to invest in a programme which supports the national associations in recruiting and retaining young referees. It is essential for the lifeblood of European football."

As part of the campaign a video clip featuring referees of all levels, including two current elite referees at domestic and international level, Stéphanie Frappart from France and Michael Oliver from England, has been released across UEFA’s platforms. By using the dynamic style of video games, it showcases the impressive skills and excitement of officiating matches at different levels, from grassroots to professional football. The video and accompanying promotion content will be provided to all of UEFA’s member associations in their respective languages to support them in their recruitment activities.

Zvonimir Boban, UEFA Chief of Football and Director of technical development:

"This campaign holds immense significance for the future of football, as referees play a pivotal role in safeguarding the game on the field of play. In addition to improved fitness and a deep understanding of football, refereeing can equip young individuals with invaluable life skills that will serve them both on and off the field."

Roberto Rosetti highlights the main pillars for successful recruitment of referees: "We are advising the associations to target players who have stopped playing football and to also identify prospective candidates at schools or at universities. It’s also important to reinforce the online learning component and have a clear communication strategy in place. Any interest gathered through the UEFA campaign video will be channelled directly to the national associations."

The associations will set clear goals with regard to the number of targeted recruits and retained referees, as well as how to tackle abuse, which has been identified as one reason why referees are deciding to stop pursuing the career. UEFA will also support the national associations to work closely together with their regional associations and domestic clubs to motivate and inspire young people to become referees.

More information on Be a Referee!